Jul 14, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 2022-2023 
Graduate Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Computer Science, M.S.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Programs

Program Description

Make no mistake about it, the Masters of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) is anchored in foundational Computer Science.  The typical student entering the program is expected to hold a BS in Computer Science or a very closely related field.  The 15 credit core will help take your current CS knowledge to that next step.  However; unlike traditional CS programs we allow you to apply that core knowledge into a very broad range of areas in need of your expertise with your 15 credit electives.  Choose a predesigned specialization or one you design yourself that complements your current interests, responsibilities, and skills. 

For example, you might choose to expand your knowledge and expertise into the Cyber Security world.  DSU is nationally recognized by federal agencies and others as leaders in this area both at the undergraduate and graduate level. Cyber Operations is an exciting and challenging area that requires a firm CS foundation.  Our specialization in Cyber-Ops is a leader in this exciting and challenging field. It can also be used to prepare for our D.Sc. in Cyber Security. 

If hard-core CyberOps is not your interest then you can use your 15 credits to help design a plan in a broad range of areas that better match how you want to apply your CSC expertise.  You can choose additional courses offered in the MSCS or other DSU graduate programs.  Broaden your knowledge into Cyber Defense (MSCD), Analytics (MSA), Information Systems (MSIS), or Health Informatics and Information Management (MSHIIM).  Concentrate in one or mix and match.  That IS course in Project Change Management may just be that extra kick towards that next promotion.

Goals and Objectives

The MSCS 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.

Program Completion

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 MSCS

The Dakota State University Masters of Science in 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Students who have not earned a baccalaureate degree in computer science (or closely related field) from an institution of higher education with full regional accreditation for that degree are required to take the GRE (see Standardized Graduate Admission Tests (GRE/GMAT) under Admissions to Graduate school)
  3. Minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent on an alternative grading system).
  4. Students who are accepted into the program but do not hold a B.S. in Computer Science may be required to show competency areas such as Data Structures, Assembly Language, Operating Systems, Language Processing, Programming Languages, Discrete Mathmatics.  These competencies may be met with transcripted coursework or less-formal means such as experiences which demonstrate to the Admissions Committee gained competence in a knowledge area.  Any remaining knowledge deficiency requirements will be included as part of the student’s formal Plan of Study (POS) as additional required credits.

Program Faculty

Program Chair:  Austin O’Brien

Faculty: Farhad Akhbardeh, Tom Halverson, Michael Ham, Stephen Krebsbach, Austin O’Brien, Meikang Qiu, Bhaskar Rimal, Yong Wang

Program Requirements


The program requires 30 hours beyond the baccalaureate. All students must take the following:

  • Five core courses (15 credit hours);
  • Five courses (15 credit hours) from the artificial intelligence specialization or cyber operations specialization or five elective courses.

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.

Courses Supporting the MSCS program

Required Courses

Required courses are to be taken by everyone admitted to the program, they include five core courses (15 credit hours), five specialization or elective courses (15 credit hours). Core courses build upon the knowledge support courses or appropriate experience.

Specialization or Elective (15 credits)

Complete 15 credits of elective courses or one of the specializations. Electives must be approved by advisor. 

Artificial Intelligence Specialization

Cyber Operations Specialization


Assessment/Evaluation Activities

All candidates for graduation must participate in an assessment activity. MSCS students must successfully complete a comprehensive exam over the five required core courses.  The exam is generally taken during the final semester of their program.  All five parts of the exam must receive a grade of pass.  Students can retake any of the five parts of the exam that are not passed.

Course Grades

Course Grades are used as an indirect measure of student attainment of specific program goals and objectives. DSU Program Guidelines require students to maintain a 3.0 GPA in the program, receive no grades below a C, and have no more than 2 grades of a C. If you do not maintain the required “B” average you will be placed on academic probation and given the opportunity to raise your GPA to 3.0 within the next nine credit hours. If you do not raise your GPA to 3.0 you will be suspended from the program. If you receive more than 6 credits of “C” or any grade lower than a “C” you will be suspended from the program. You may appeal the suspension. If students have questions regarding grading, they should review the “Satisfactory Progression” Program Guidelines or speak with their advisor.

MSCS Course Rotation

Course Rotation Schedule

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Programs