The Volgenau School of
Information Technology and Engineering
- Administrative Units
- Bachelor of Science
- Master of Science
- Virginia Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program
The Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering is concerned primarily with study areas that involve integrating the information basis for modern engineering with the more conventional physical and materials science approach. The careful integration of these areas results in a unique academic experience for highly motivated students.
The Volgenau School offers several degree programs that concentrate on important contemporary technological issues and needs. Eight bachelor's degree programs are offered: applied computer science, electronics and communications engineering, civil and infrastructure engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, information technology, and systems engineering. Minors in information technology, computer science, software engineering, and data analysis are also available.
Twelve master's degree programs are available: civil and infrastructure engineering, computer engineering, computer science, e-commerce, electrical engineering, information security and assurance, information systems, operations research, software engineering, statistical science, systems engineering, and telecommunications. Four doctoral programs are offered: a cross-disciplinary program in information technology and more focused programs in computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and statistical science. In addition, the engineer degree in information technology provides post-master's training in an application area.
Undergraduate certificates are offered in applied statistics, computer science, information technology, postbachelor computer science, and operations research and engineering. For graduate students, certificate programs are offered in advanced network protocols for telecommunications; architecture-based systems engineering; biometrics; e-commerce; command, control, communications, and intelligence; intelligent agents; communications and networking; computational modeling; systems engineering for computer, information, and software-intensive systems; federal statistics; information engineering; information systems security; military operations research; signal processing; software engineering; telecommunications forensics and security; VLSI design and manufacturing; civil infrastructure and security engineering; discovery, design, and innovation; computer networking; network technologies and applications; wireless communications; telecommunications systems modeling; data mining; database management; and web-based software engineering.
The undergraduate degree programs prepare students to enter directly into professional employment or continue studies at the graduate level. The requirements for the bachelor's degrees include required and elective courses in mathematics, humanities, and general education, and specialty courses in applied computer science, civil and infrastructure engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, electronics and communications engineering, information technology, and systems engineering. Each program strongly emphasizes English composition and communication.
Students also have opportunities to develop interest areas in other fields within the Volgenau School that offer undergraduate courses but do not have undergraduate majors. The bachelor of individualized study (BIS) degree program may appeal to adult students who have completed a substantial portion of their studies at other institutions.
Bioengineering has been increasingly represented at the Volgenau School. New faculty members are working with other departments, schools, and institutes at Mason to provide a quality education to students interested in this rapidly growing field. The faculty at the Volgenau School hopes to work with numerous Washington-area organizations dedicated to health-oriented research or clinical service.
Lloyd Griffiths, Dean
Daniel A. Menasce, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies
E. Bernard White, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Sharon Caraballo, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs
Terri Mancini, Director, Sponsored Research Administration
Melinda Barnhart, Director, Finance and Personnel
Nicole Sealey, Manager, Graduate Admissions
Jonathan Goldman, Director, Computing Resources
Jennifer Lamb, Director of Development
Bachelor of Science
The Volgenau School offers eight programs in its academic units. Policies regarding admission and degree requirements are provided in the department sections that follow.
Undergraduate Mission, Goals
The undergraduate mission is to provide a quality education to support the needs of Virginia and the nation. The goal is to graduate students who are technically competent; prepared for ethical professional practice and a lifetime of learning; communicate effectively and work as members or leaders of technical teams; and understand the global nature and effect of information technology and engineering.
The following general requirements must be completed by all undergraduate students:
- At least 120 credits of academic work including at least 45 credits of upper-level courses (numbered 300 or above)
- At least 6 credits of English composition, 3 credits of literature, and 3 credits of oral communication (university general education electives)
- At least 3 credits of arts, 3 credits of Western civilization, 3 credits of social and behavioral science, and 3 credits of global understanding issues (university general education electives)
- At least 24 credits of social science/humanities course work, which is normally satisfied by the 24 credits of university general education courses described above.
- All requirements listed in the following sections for specific Volgenau School majors, including university requirements for mathematics, natural science, IT competency and ethics, and synthesis
Freshmen who are undecided about their specific majors may select Volgenau School undeclared as their major. Sample schedules that fulfill degree requirements for individual programs within the Volgenau School are available from the departments. With approval of departmental advisors, some courses may be taken out of the indicated sequences, particularly English, literature, and social science courses.
Students should consult the baccalaureate degree requirements in the Academic Policies chapter in this catalog for detailed information concerning requirements for graduation, residence, and academic quality for graduation. That chapter also lists additional university requirements for minor programs and additional (double) majors. The requirements for the BIS degree can be found in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences chapter. Requirements for the civil and infrastructure engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, electronics and communications engineering, information technology, and systems engineering undergraduate degree programs are provided in the academic departments' sections of this chapter.
Academic Progression, Course Repeat
Students majoring in the Volgenau School programs are expected to have an acceptable plan of study formulated with assistance from the departmental advisor on file. They are expected to make reasonable progress toward their degree during each semester they are enrolled. Students may be required to obtain permission from the Volgenau School Student Services Office to repeat some courses required for the major in which they have previously received a grade of D or F. Individual Volgenau School programs may disallow students from retaking certain high-demand courses in which they have already earned a grade of C or better if they want to retake the course to improve their GPA.
Students are encouraged to take advantage of the many excellent courses available to broaden their educational experience or strengthen their background; however, some credits earned may not satisfy any degree requirements. Degree requirements for the Volgenau School undergraduate programs may not include credits earned in activity courses in any department. Examples are many of the courses listed under the catalog designations of art, dance, music, or theater; individual sports, physical education, or team sports; and recreational activities. Exceptions in these categories are courses that meet the university general education requirements for the major, including global understanding or fine arts. Whenever there is uncertainty, students must consult with an academic advisor in their departments. Generally, degree requirements for computer science and engineering majors may not be met by 100- to 400-level courses designated "IT" (and any associated cross-listed courses) in the Course Descriptions chapter of this catalog. The respective computer science or engineering student's department might approve requests for some IT courses such as IT 350, 362, 462, and 466 to satisfy degree requirements. For more information, contact the department or the Volgenau School Student Services Office at 703-993-1511.
The university requires all undergraduate students to successfully complete a course, or combination of courses, designated "writing-intensive" in their majors at the 300 level or above. To determine the writing-intensive course requirements for specific degrees, refer to the major program descriptions in the following department sections.
BS/Accelerated MS Programs
Many of the BS degree programs offered within the Volgenau School may be packaged with some of the MS degree programs in ways that reduce the total number of credits required. Details may be found in the following department sections.
Master of Science
The Volgenau School offers 12 master of science programs in its academic units. Policies regarding admission and degree requirements are provided in the department sections that follow.
Doctor of Philosophy
The Volgenau School offers PhDs in computer science, electrical and computer engineering, information technology, and statistical science. The PhD in computer science is described in the Computer Science section of this chapter, the PhD in electrical and computer engineering is described in the Electrical and Computer Engineering section, and the PhD in statistical science is described in the Statistics section of this chapter. The PhD in information technology is a program that builds on a fundamental core and emphasizes cross-disciplinary efforts among the 12 master's programs in the Volgenau School, as well as with related units at Mason. Specific entrance and degree requirements for this doctoral program are found in the Interdisciplinary Programs section of this chapter.
Engineer Degree in Information Technology
The engineer degree is a post-master's degree, but it does not confer a doctorate. Students pursuing the engineer degree can take advanced PhD courses and complete a project of an applied nature to fulfill program requirements.
Admission requirements for the engineer degree are the same as for the PhD in information technology.
Plan of Study
The program is made up of specialized course work followed by completion of an applied project summarized in a project report. Under the guidance of the supervisory committee, students prepare a tentative plan of study. The plan lists the intended courses and their expected timing. The plan should also contain a tentative subject for the applied project.
Specialized Course Work
Students must include in the plan of study a well-defined advanced concentration area. Successful completion of this requirement should enable students to conduct applied research in a significant contemporary area in information technology.
The supervisory committee and the Volgenau School associate dean for research and graduate studies must approve a plan of study. These approvals must occur before a student completes the courses in the area of concentration. There is no guarantee that a course taken before this approval will be accepted. Students must take 30 credits of graduate-level course work. A GPA of 3.50 is required in these credits.
Students may waive up to 6 credits of course work by passing two of the qualifying exams (3 credits for each exam) from any of the PhD programs offered by the Volgenau School. The plan of study may include at most 3 credits of directed reading course work. At least 12 of the credits must be in courses numbered 700 or higher, and these 12 credits cannot include directed-reading, project, or thesis courses.
Courses that cannot be included in any plan of study are any INFS 500-level courses; IT 500 and 599; or 540; STAT 510, 512, and 530; and SYST 500. The associate dean must approve exceptions to any of these rules in advance.
On admission to the program, students are assigned a temporary advisor. Students are responsible for working with the temporary advisor until they select a project director and a supervisory committee. It is recommended that a student form a supervisory committee as soon as possible.
The supervisory committee includes the project director plus at least two additional members. The committee must contain at least two graduate faculty members from the Volgenau School. It is strongly recommended that the committee include at least one person from outside the university who is knowledgeable in the subject area of the project. The committee supervises the project proposal presentation and the project defense.
Project Proposal Presentation
Near the end of the course work, each student prepares a written project proposal, which is presented to the supervisory committee. Students may enroll in IT 996 Engineer Project Proposal to complete this effort. During the term students expect to present the project proposal to the committee, they should enroll in IT 991 Engineer Project Presentations. After successfully completing this requirement, students are formally admitted as a candidate for the engineer degree. The application for candidacy is submitted to the Office of the Associate Dean on a standard form.
Project and Final Defense
With concurrence of the supervisory committee, students proceed with the project research, during which time they must continuously enroll in IT 997 Engineer Project. Students must complete a minimum of 12 credits from among IT 991, 996, and 997, with a minimum of 6 credits of IT 997. When the central portions of the project work have been completed to the point that students are able to describe the contributions of the project effort, they submit the written project report to the supervisory committee. Once the committee believes the student is ready, a final public oral defense may be scheduled; the application for the defense must be submitted to the associate dean at least one month in advance of the defense so that the announcement is posted for at least two weeks.
Following a satisfactory evaluation of the oral defense of the project by the supervisory committee, the student must submit, with supervision from the project director, a final project that represents a definitive contribution to applied knowledge in information technology. This document must meet format guidelines specified by the Guide for Preparing Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Projects. If the candidate successfully defends the project, the supervisory committee recommends that the final form of the project be completed and the Volgenau School faculty and the graduate faculty of Mason accept the candidate for the engineer degree.
Applying and Completing a PhD Program
Students who are awarded an engineer degree will be able, at a later date, to work toward a PhD in information technology. Some restrictions and limitations apply. After applying and being accepted into the PhD in information technology, students will be able to apply for a reduction of up to 12 credits in course requirements. The request must satisfy the rules for transfer credit at Mason, and courses must be relevant to the student's planned dissertation research. In addition, the qualifying exams for the doctoral program will be waived for such students. All other requirements for the doctoral program must be satisfied.
Virginia Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program
Graduate programs in engineering and information technology are offered under the auspices of a commonwealth network in Virginia. This network includes Mason, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University (ODU), the University of Virginia (UVA), and Virginia Commonwealth University. It employs a mix of direct classroom instruction from Mason and live interactive televised lectures from other universities. Afternoon and evening instruction is provided at Mason's Fairfax Campus and UVA and Tech's Northern Virginia Center.
Master's degree programs are offered by UVA, Tech, ODU, and Mason. The degree programs from UVA include the master of materials engineering, master of engineering in chemical engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering (manufacturing systems engineering), electrical engineering, systems engineering, and civil engineering (structural focus). Tech offers the master of engineering administration; master of science or master of engineering in electrical engineering, civil engineering (environmental), and systems engineering; and a master in mechanical engineering. ODU offers the master of engineering management. For more information, go to ite.gmu.edu/degree/commonwealth_main.htm.