The Masters of Science in Applied Computer Science (MSACS) is fundamentally different from traditional computer science programs. Computer science focuses primarily on the theoretical aspects of computer systems and computability. Applied computer science builds upon these same foundations, but emphasizes the practical application of computer science methods to resolve business and other real-world problems through the design and development of software applications and the planning and deployment of computer systems. The curriculum is based on a traditional, graduate-level core curriculum in computer science plus elective courses that provide the student with a depth of knowledge in an applied areas such as cyber operations or software development.
Goals and Objectives
The MSACS student learning outcomes were developed to ensure that all graduates are prepared to enter employment in industry or to continue on in a doctoral degree program. Those goals include the ability to:
- articulate a solid understanding of the fundamental principles in computer science, in the area of specialization and in supporting areas;
- apply computer science principles to problems from other domains;
- conduct research and/or design projects that demonstrate an ability to model, analyze and design computer science processes and systems;
- communicate technical information, both orally and in writing, in an effective manner.
Courses in the MSACS program are offered using a variety of instructional delivery methods:
- Face-to-face on site in Madison, SD in a traditional classroom setting;
- Using interactive video-conferencing via the Dakota Digital Network offered at multiple sites in South Dakota (sites arranged to meet student need);
- At a distance via Internet, using a combination of both live and/or encoded streaming videos of classes, interactive course web boards, course web sites, and e-mail. All courses are web-enhanced.
The program can be completed on a full or part-time basis, with classes offered in three academic terms, fall, spring, and summer. Time to complete really depends upon the number of credit hours taken per semester and the number of knowledge support courses needed. Full-time students (9 credit hours per semester) can complete the program in four semesters (assuming two knowledge support courses are required). Students must complete the program within 5 years of the semester of their admission.
Admission Requirements Specific to the MSACS
The Dakota State University Masters of Science in Applied Computer Science program seeks highly motivated individuals with education and professional credentials that will enable them to be successful graduate students. Admission to the program is based upon a combination of the following requirements:
- A baccalaureate degree in computer science (or closely related field) from an institution of higher education with full regional accreditation for that degree. International students must have an undergraduate (bachelor's) degree that is the equivalent to a four-year undergraduate degree in the U.S.
- Minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent on an alternative grading system).
- Transcript should show completion of courses in key areas: Basic knowledge can be demonstrated in several ways, including:
- Programming (C, C++) and programming language foundations
- Data structures and algorithms
- Math foundations (discrete math)
- Satisfactory scores on the GRE and the test must have been taken within the last five years. The test can be waived if one of the following conditions is met:
- A cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or higher on a 4.0 scale for a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the U.S.
- Official admission into and demonstrated success in a regionally accredited graduate program in the U.S. Demonstrated success is defined as grades of A or B in at least 9 hours of graduate work;
- Graduation from a regionally accredited college/university in the U.S. at least 15 years ago or more.
- Students may be required to take undergraduate or foundation classes in order to make up for deficiencies. It is anticipated that there will be few students that require foundation courses so the exceptions will be handled on a case by case basis.
Entry-Level Knowledge Requirements
Knowledge requirements include:
students entering the program will be expected to have a computer science programming background
for those without that background, a graduate-level foundation course will be offered that covers essential topics from data structures, algorithm analysis, and object-oriented design
Specific Application Information:
- Application deadline: All application materials must be received by June 15th for fall, November 15th for spring, and April 15th for the summer.
- Entry Semesters: Students may enter the program in fall, spring, and summer semesters. Applications will be reviewed on a regularly scheduled basis as they arrive. Due to the restrictions on the size of some classes, particularly distance classes, and potential space limitations, applications should be sent as early as possible.
Dorine Bennett, Richard Christoph, Omar El-Gayar, Pat Engebretson, William Figg, Steve Graham, Tom Halverson, Stephen Krebsbach, Chris Olson, Josh Pauli, Wayne Pauli, Surendra Sarnikar, Ronghua Shan, Zixing Shen, Kevin Streff, Daniel Talley, Yong Wang
The program requires 30 hours beyond the baccalaureate. All students must take the following:
- Five core courses (15 credit hours);
- A five-course sequence (15 credit hours) in a career track specialization. Specializations include cyber operations, software development or a custom specialization.
Students who do not meet specific admission requirements may have to take foundational classes as part of their coursework that gets added to their program of study.