Jul 12, 2024  
2014-2015 Catalog 
2014-2015 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Computer Science, Non-Thesis, MS

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College of Science and Engineering

Graduate Faculty

Bover, David C., PhD, software engineering, software quality assurance, computer security.
Fizzano, Perry, PhD, algorithms, optimization, bioinformatics.
Hearne, James W., PhD, artificial intelligence, computational science.
Hutchinson, Brian, PhD, natural language processing, machine learning.
Johnson, James Lee, PhD, database theory, probabilistic algorithms.
Jusak, Debra S., PhD, distributed computing, middleware, embedded systems.
Liu, Yudong, PhD, natural language processing.
Matthews, Geoffrey B., PhD, artificial intelligence, data mining, scientific visualization.
Meehan, J. Michael, PhD, parallel and distributed computing, programming languages, networks.
Nelson, Philip A., PhD, parallel and distributed computing, compilers, computer networks.
Zhang, Jianna J., PhD, AI, machine learning, robotics, natural language processing.

Program Advisor: Philip A. Nelson

Send e-mail related to the graduate program in computer science to gradinfo.cs@wwu.edu. For further information concerning the program, consult the departmental website at cse.wwu.edu/computer-science.


❑ To graduate students with a strong, in-depth background in computer science.
❑ To prepare students for PhD programs.
❑ To engage students in high quality research-oriented projects.


❑ To educate students in core concepts in computer science.
❑ To provide students with in depth knowledge, skills, and experiences in computer science.
❑ To focus on the applied aspects of computer science, especially real-world projects that use core concepts and expert knowledge of computer science.
❑ To provide students and faculty opportunities to engage in research in computer science.


Students who have completed an undergraduate degree and who meet the requirements of the Graduate School and who show evidence of superior scholarship are invited to apply for admission to the graduate program in computer science. Students may be admitted into the computer science master’s degree program in one of three ways: full admit, full admit with prerequisite course work, and provisional admit. Students who have a sufficient background in computer science, i.e. an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, and who meet the general requirements of the Graduate School can be given a “full admit.” Due to the nature of this field of study, it is often the case that students with an undergraduate degree in an area other than computer science seek admission to the graduate program in computer science. Such students usually require a number of prerequisite undergraduate courses before they can embark on their graduate studies. If they meet the other requirements of the Graduate School, such students can usually be given a “full admit with prerequisite course work.” The student is admitted into the graduate program but is required to complete a number of undergraduate prerequisite courses. Other constraints may be placed on such admissions, such as a minimum acceptable grade(s) for the prerequisites and perhaps a time frame for completion of the prerequisites. The exact nature of the composition of the prerequisite course work will be determined on a case by case basis. In rare cases, students who do not meet the general requirements of the graduate school, for example do not have the required minimum GPA, can be given a “provisional admit” provided their background is such that it indicates a high probability of success in the program.
In case of provisional admission, the program advisor may interview the candidate individually and consider the following factors:

  1. Related background knowledge and work experience
  2. Classes taken since graduation
  3. Reference letters
  4. GRE scores

Application Information

Admission Deadlines: Fall, April 15; Winter, October 1; Spring, February 1.

TA Deadlines: Same as admission deadlines. Application requirements and forms are available from the Graduate School website.

Test scores: GRE General Test. An applicant with an advanced degree need not submit test scores. A statement of purpose is recommended.

Program Requirements (55-58 credits)

Core Curriculum

The core curriculum consists of five courses of 4 credits each.

  • These courses must be taken by all students in the MS in computer science program. These five courses should be scheduled during the first three terms the student is enrolled in the MS program or the first three terms following the completion of assigned prerequisite courses.


  • The following course must be taken by all students in each quarter the student is enrolled in the MS Computer Science program, up to a total of 6 credit hours.


  • Qualifying Examination

    A qualifying exam covering CSCI 509, 510, 511, and 512 will be given to the student after completion of those courses. To be advanced to candidacy in the MS program in computer science the student must pass the qualifying exam. The student is responsible for requesting of the faculty that the qualifying exam be administered when the conditions have been met.

    Advancement to Candidacy

    Students are advanced to candidacy when they have demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of completing their program of study. The student must have completed the core curriculum courses with a B or better GPA and must have passed the qualifying exam. Students are recommended for candidacy by the Graduate Committee.

    Elective Courses

    If possible, the student should take elective courses in support of their area of research.

    Research Experience

    In addition to the five core courses and five elective courses, all students in the MS in computer science program are required to take three research experience courses. The student should register for one of these courses each of the last three terms of study in the MS program. The three research experience courses are tied to one of a number of ongoing projects in the computer science department. Effectively, the student is joining that research team effort by registering for these courses. As such, the student should discuss their intentions with the faculty members involved in that project prior to registering for these courses. The research experience courses are numbers CSCI 601, CSCI 602 and CSCI 603. The CSCI 601, CSCI 602 and CSCI 603 sequence should be taken after the student has completed the qualifying exam for the core courses.

    Total Credit Hours Required for the MS Degree in Computer Science

    Core Courses: 5 courses x 4 credits = 20 credits Graduate Seminar: Variable, 3 to 6 credit hours Elective Courses: 5 courses x 4 credits = 20 credits Research Experience Courses: 3 courses x 4 credits = 12 credits Total: 55-58 credits

Additional Information

Five-Year BS And MS Fast Track Program

For students who complete their undergraduate study in computer science at WWU there is an option by which at the end of only one additional year of study past the BS degree they will have completed all requirements for the MS degree. To participate in this program, a student must request enrollment in the undergraduate honors program in computer science. To be admitted to this program, the student must have an overall GPA of 3.0 and a GPA of 3.0 in all undergraduate computer science classes. Students should apply for admission into the undergraduate honors program during the junior year of study. Once admitted to this program, the student will take CSCI 509-512 while an undergraduate. These courses will substitute for four senior-level courses the student would normally take as an undergraduate. The course substitutions are: CSCI 509 replaces CSCI 460, CSCI 510 replaces CSCI 401, CSCI 511 replaces CSCI 405, CSCI 512 replaces CSCI 410. A student must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 in these courses.

After students graduate with the BS degree in the computer science honors program, they then will complete all remaining requirements for the MS degree, i.e., CSCI 514, 590, 601, 602, 603 plus 5 graduate electives.

Registering for three courses per term, it is possible to complete all MS requirements in only one additional year. When a student enters the MS program via this path, the qualifying exam will be given during their first term as a graduate student, which implies that they may register for CSCI 601 while pending the outcome of the qualifying exam.

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