Computer Science, Master of Science
The M.S. in Computer Science degree program prepares graduates for careers in a wide variety of areas in the application of computer science to science, engineering, industry, and business. The thesis option of the program is particularly appropriate for preparing graduates to subsequently enter doctoral programs of study.
Common types of software applications include advanced simulations, data analysis using Big Data, search and data mining, cloud-based systems, user interfaces, mobile application development, computer graphics and game development, high-performance parallel applications, and database design and applications.
Computer scientists are employed in a large number of organizations, with Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Dell, Oracle, Amazon, Google, General Dynamics, Boeing, and Raytheon among the largest employers. Other more specialized organizations include National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and one of the National Laboratories (e.g. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory or Los Alamos National Laboratory).
Computer scientists develop complex software and computer systems that are central to contemporary science, engineering, industry, and business. The M.S. in Computer Science enables students to either enter the computer science workforce or continue on to a doctoral program of study.
Individual and team-based assignments will enable students to build mastery of important computer science skills and their practical applications in areas that include computer networks, computer graphics and visualization, high-performance computing, cybersecurity, machine learning and data science, software engineering, software design and architecture, and software validation and verification. In addition, you will have the opportunity to engage in critical application areas of computer science in areas that include biology, ecology, and astronomy.
The non-thesis option of this program allows students to complete their degree through coursework and project-based learning, while the thesis option is focused on engagement with research projects under the mentorship of a faculty member and culminating in the preparation and defense of a thesis.
The program is strengthened through broad collaborations with a variety of other academic programs, government agencies, and private research organizations, including the departments of Biological Sciences and Physics and Astronomy, Center for Bioengineering Innovation, Pathogen and Microbiome Institute, Center for Ecosystem Science and Society, Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, and U.S. Geological Survey.
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Career opportunities that might be pursued:
- Senior software engineer
- Software project manager
With further education, one of these paths is possible:
- University professor
University Requirements Accordion Closed
To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. (Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.)
You must additionally complete:
- All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
- All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
- All work toward the master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.
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In addition to University Requirements:
- Complete individual plan requirements.
|Minimum Units for Completion||30|
|Additional Admission Requirements||Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.|
|Thesis||Thesis may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.|
|Oral Defense||Oral Defense may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.|
|Research||Individualized research may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.|
|Progression Plan Link||View Program of Study|
This M.S. in Computer Science will prepare you to either enter the computer science workforce or continue on to a doctoral program of study, building core skills that are widely applicable to many areas of science, engineering, industry, business, and research.
This degree is flexible and allows students to develop a customized program of study that is highly aligned with their professional or research interests. Available coursework allows students to study in many areas of computer science, including computer networking, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, and software architecture and testing. While all students will be expected to contribute to a substantive computer science development or research project under the mentorship of a faculty member during the course of their study, thesis option students will have additional opportunities to engage in computer science research and scholarship and prepare a thesis.
This program is designed for students with strong preparation in programming and computer science, gained through successful completion of an undergraduate computer science program or other professional experience. The non-thesis option of the program is designed for students seeking professional preparation, while the thesis option is particularly appropriate for students for considering further graduate study in a doctoral program.
As a graduate, you will be prepared to contribute in a wide variety of core computer science areas in both academia or professional practice, including computer networks, computer graphics and visualization, high-performance computing, cybersecurity, machine learning and data science, software engineering, software design and architecture, and software validation and verification. In addition, you will have the opportunity to engage in critical application areas of computer science in areas that include biology, ecology, and astronomy.
Student Learning Outcomes
Graduates of this program will demonstrate the following competencies and program learning outcomes:
- Identify, explain, and synthesize fundamental concepts of computer science, including computer networking, cybersecurity, high-performance computing, and software engineering
- Analyze and critically distill scientific literature to identify computer science theories and development and research methods appropriate to relevant science and engineering problems and research areas
- Apply computer science theories and development and research methods to formulate, develop, and assess computer system solutions to relevant science and engineering problems and research areas
- Compose and engage in highly effective written and oral communication in computer science areas
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Additional Admission Requirements
- Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
- NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
- Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
- Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent.
- Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
- For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
- International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy
Individual program admission requirements include:
- Bachelor degree in Computer Science or completion of program prerequisite courses (see department website for details)
- Personal statement outlining the prospective student's professional goals in computer science and an indication of interest in either the thesis of non-thesis option.
- Two letter of recommendation from recommenders who are familiar with the prospective student's computer science qualifications
- GRE® revised General Test
Take the following 30 units
- Statistics and mathematics (3 units):
- Complete 3 units in any graduate-level STA or MAT prefixed course
- Project-based learning (6 units):
- Thesis option requirements:
- Thesis (6 units): Complete 6 units of CS 699 under the direction of a computer science research advisor
- Computer science electives (15 units): Complete 15 units of graduate-level coursework, with at least 9 of these 15 units in CS prefixed courses
- Non-thesis option requirements:
- Computer science electives (21 units): Complete 21 units of graduate-level coursework, with at least 15 of these 21 units in CS prefixed courses
- Thesis option students are responsible for selecting a research advisor who will act as their thesis committee chair as well as other members of their thesis committee before completing 9 units of coursework in the degree program
- Thesis option students must successfully complete a thesis and thesis final defense and are responsible for following all applicable NAU Requirements for Theses and Dissertations (policy number 100806)
- Students may use a maximum of two courses, up to 6 units, of CS prefixed 400-level courses to satisfy a portion of elective requirements
- Students are responsible for ensuring that they meet all course prerequisites.
- Statistics and mathematics (3 units):
Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.
Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Program
This program is available as an Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Plan. Accelerated Programs provide the opportunity for outstanding undergraduates working on their bachelor’s degree to simultaneously begin work on a master’s degree. Departments may allow students to complete both degrees in an accelerated manner by approving up to 12 units applicable toward both degrees. Students must apply to the accelerated program and the master’s program by the application deadline, and meet all requirements as listed on the Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Programs to be considered for admission. Admission to programs is competitive and qualified applicants may be denied because of limits on the number of students admitted each year. Be sure to speak with your advisor regarding your interest in Accelerated Programs.