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University Bulletin

Graduate Degree Programs

Computer Science (COMP)

Program Home Page

LINDA NULL, Graduate Program Coordinator
W-255 Olmsted Building
Penn State Harrisburg
777 W. Harrisburg Pike
Middletown, PA 17057-4898
717-948-6081
E-mail: lnull@psu.edu

Degree Conferred:

M.S.

The Graduate Faculty

  • Jeremy J. Blum, D.Sc. (George Washington) Assistant Professor of Computer Science
  • Thang N. Bui, Ph.D. (MIT) Associate Professor of Computer Science and Mathematical Sciences
  • Sukmoon Chang, Ph.D. (Rutgers) Associate Professor of Computer Science
  • Linda M. Null, Ph.D. (Iowa State) Associate Professor of Computer Science
  • Clifford H. Wagner, Ph.D. (SUNY, Albany) Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Seth Wolpert, Ph.D. (Rutgers) Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering

The program is professionally oriented and designed to prepare students for employment in industry or government. Courses emphasize practical concerns as well as the relevant theoretical background. The program will provide appropriate background for diverse tasks such as developing scientific and engineering applications, developing system software, developing safety or security critical systems, solving computationally hard problems, and developing distributed applications. While not intended as preparation for subsequent entrance to a Ph.D. program, this goal is not precluded. Once the specific course requirements are met, appropriate selection of electives will enable individual interests to be met within the program. Anticipated areas of interest include software engineering, systems programming, and artificial intelligence.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the general Graduate School requirements, applicants must present a baccalaureate degree in Computer Science or a related field from a regionally accredited institution. A minimum GPA of 2.75 (on a 4.0 scale) is required. While a bachelor's degree in Computer Science is not required, admission without deficiency requires that an applicant has completed courses in analysis of algorithms, operating systems, database, and linear algebra. If these courses are not taken before admission to the program, they may be taken at Penn State Harrisburg, but the student will receive at most 3 credits toward the MS degree for these courses.

At the discretion of the program, applicants may be required to provide scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and/or the GRE subject test in computer science. In addition, applicants must provide three letters of reference, at least one of which is from an academic source, and a letter outlining significant work experience and academic and career objectives.

Degree Requirements

A total of 30 graduate credits (400 level or above) is required for the degree of master of science in Computer Science. Students are required to take the following courses: COMP 505 and COMP 511, COMP 512, and COMP 519. Additionally, students are required to complete either a thesis or a paper according to one of the two options described below. Students who believe that they have completed a course substantially similar to one of the specific course requirements may apply to have their previous work evaluated for the purpose of exemption to that requirement. If the exemption is granted, another approved course shall be taken in place of that required course. The remaining 18 credits must be completed according to one of the following options:

  1. Thesis Option: Research into a specific computer science problem, development of a scholarly written paper, and an oral defense.
    This option requires: 6 credits of COMP 600, 3 additional credits from approved 500-level electives in computer science, mathematics, engineering, and information systems courses and 9 credits from approved 400- and 500-level electives in computer science, mathematics, engineering, and information systems courses.
  2. Paper Option: In-depth study of specific computer science problems, development of a written paper or project, and an oral defense.
    This option requires: 3 credits of COMP 594, 9 credits from approved 500-level electives in computer science, mathematics, engineering, and information systems courses and 6 credits from approved 400- and 500-level electives in computer science, mathematics, engineering, and information systems courses.

A maximum of 9 transfer credits will be allowed for course work completed as a graduate student at another institution.

Suggested Tracks

For students with interests in the areas of software engineering, systems programming, and artificial intelligence, the program suggests the following course work. These tracks are only advisory--there is no requirement that a student follow any track, and tracks will not be noted on diplomas or transcripts.

Track in Software Engineering: Students following the track in software engineering will be provided with the conceptual tools needed for designing and managing large software systems. In addition to the required core, the track in software engineering consists of the following courses: COMP 513, COMP 516, INFSY 570. In addition to these courses, CMPSC 470 is highly recommended, as compiler development is an ideal environment for gaining practical experience with software engineering techniques and tools.

Track in Systems Programming: Students following the track in systems programming will receive instruction in both the conceptual foundation of systems software and the implementation of such systems. In addition to the required core, the track in systems programming consists of the following courses: CMPSC 436, COMP 517, COMP 545.

Track in Artificial Intelligence:
Students following the track in artificial intelligence are expected to gain an understanding in the theory and applications of AI methods as well as evolutionary methods for solving a variety of problems. In addition to the required core, the track in artificial intelligence consists of the following courses: COMP 520, COMP 524, COMP 556.

Additional Information

For further information, see: http://cs.hbg.psu.edu

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 599 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

COMPUTER SCIENCE (COMP) course list

Integrated B.S./M.S. Program in Computer Science

The Computer Science program offers a limited number of academically superior Bachelor of Science candidates the opportunity to enroll in an integrated, continuous program of study leading to both the Bachelor of Science and the Master of Science in Computer Science. The ability to coordinate as well as concurrently pursue the two degree programs enables the student to earn the two degrees in five years.

Students in the IUG program must satisfy the degree requirements for both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees. However, the total course load is reduced due to the maximum of 12 credits that can count towards both degrees. A minimum of 6 credits proposed to count for both degrees must be at the 500 level. Thesis credits may not be double counted. The first two years of the IUG program are identical to the first two years of the Bachelor of Science program. The third and fourth years of the IUG program differ from those of the Bachelor of Science program due to the courses that count toward the Master of Science degree requirements. Student performance will be monitored on an on-going basis. In addition, a formal evaluation of student academic performance will be performed when the student has completed 100 to 105 credits, which is at the end of the first semester of the senior year for a typical student in the program. Students who have not maintained a 3.5 GPA in their Math and Computer Science courses will be put on probationary status with respect to the IUG program. Their ability to continue in the IUG program will be based on their academic performance in the last semester of their senior year. As part of the review in the senior year, students will be advised about the paper option and thesis option in the graduate program. Students intending to pursue the thesis option would be advised to do so only if they have been doing very well in the program and are in no danger of not being able to continue into the fifth year. A minimum grade point average of 3.5 must be earned in all math and computer science course work that is applied toward the graduate degree. This includes any courses that count toward both the undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as all courses taken during the fifth year. Students have the choice of receiving the B.S. degree at the end of the fourth year or waiting until the end of the fifth year to receive both degrees. Students who elect to receive the B.S. degree at the end of the fourth year will pay graduate tuition for courses taken in the fifth year; students opting to receive both degrees at the end of the fifth year will pay undergraduate tuition for all five years. Note that students who are awarded a graduate assistantship must elect to receive the B.S. degree at the end of the fourth year. If for any reason a student admitted to the IUG program is unable to complete the requirements for the Master of Science degree, the student will be permitted to receive the Bachelor of Science degree assuming all the undergraduate degree requirements have been satisfactorily completed. Students who successfully complete the courses listed in the recommended schedule will satisfy the requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree by the end of their fourth year.

Admission Requirements

To initiate the application process, students must submit an Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate (IUG) Degree in Computer Science Application Form, a transcript, and a faculty recommendation, in addition to applying for admission to the Graduate School. A faculty adviser will help undergraduate candidates determine a sequence of courses that will prepare them for acceptance into the Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate (IUG) degree program. In order to apply for the IUG program, students must have completed a minimum of 45 credits. A typical student would apply after completing between 45 to 60 credits, that is, after the fourth semester and before the end of the fifth semester. For consideration for acceptance into the program, students must have completed and earned a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in the following Computer Science and Mathematics courses: MATH 140, MATH 141, MATH 220, CMPSC 121, CMPSC 122, and CMPSC 360. Student applications will be evaluated based on their overall academic performance, in addition to the above requirements. In all cases, admission to the program will be at the discretion of the Graduate Admissions Committee in Computer Science.

Degree Requirements

Students in the IUG program must satisfy the degree requirements for both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees. The total course load is reduced due to the maximum of 12 credits that can count towards both degrees. The minimum of 6 credits double-counted must be at the 500 level. Thesis credits may not be double counted.

Last Revised by the Department: Spring Semester 2012

Blue Sheet Item #: 40-05-074

Review Date: 02/21/2012

UCA Revision #2: 7/30/07

Last updated by Publications: 5/23/11