University Catalog: 2008-09

Think. Learn. Succeed.

Computer Science

Phone: 703-993-1530
Web: cs.gmu.edu

Faculty

Professors: Barbara, J. Chen, DeJong, Gomaa (chair), Hamburger (emeritus), Kerschberg, Menasce, Motro, Offutt, Pullen, Rine (emeritus), Sibley, Sood, Tecuci, Wechsler

Associate professors: Ammann, Aydin, Baum (emeritus), Brodsky, Carver, Duric, Kosecka, Luke, Richards, Setia, Simon, P. Wang, White, Wijesekera

Assistant professors: S. Chen, Domeniconi, Jiang, Li, Lien, Lin, Malek, Sousa, Stavrou, X. Wang, Zhong

Instructors: Fleck, Heishman, T. Maddox, Nordstrom

Adjunct professors: Ahmed, Armour, Baldo, Clausen, Doughty, Duan, El-Ansary, Ellis, Foxwell, Geldon, Gravatt, Howard, Hwang, M. Maddox, Martin, Masiyoswski, Nidiffer, Pettit, Redding, Ritchey, Sainju, Sharif, Smeltzer, Smith, Tompkins, Wu

Introduction

Computer science is at the center of the information revolution in the 21st century. Advanced computation tools and techniques are revolutionizing and transforming the way we work, play, communicate, collaborate, and conduct business. In addition, computation is creating new scientific and engineering fields. such as robotics, computational sciences, bioinformatics, astroinformatics, and health informatics, to name a few. Computer science is a discipline concerned with the analysis, design, implementation, maintenance, and evolution of computer-based systems used in almost all walks of life.

Computer scientists must be well-grounded not only in the theory of computing, but also in its application to diverse application areas, for example, web-based applications such as e-mail, wireless networking, online group gaming, social networks, and e-commerce. Computer scientists must be capable of working closely with members of other professions associated with computing. Students who pursue this discipline will learn (1) theories of computation, analysis of algorithms, operating systems, and artificial intelligence; (2) communication and coordination via advanced computer networks; (3) storage, retrieval, and management of large databases; and (4) analysis, design, and implementation of reliable software systems.

Course Work

The Department of Computer Science (CS) offers courses designated CS, EC, INFS, ISA, and SWE, as well as some IT courses, in the Course Descriptions chapter of this catalog. The department offers undergraduate programs in computer science and applied computer science. A double major is offered in computer science and computer engineering. Students may also elect a minor in computer science or software engineering. Several accelerated BS Computer Science/MS Programs are offered. Graduate programs offered are an MS in computer science, an MS in information security and assurance, an MS in information systems, an MS in software engineering, an MS in e-commerce, a PhD in computer science, and several graduate certificate programs. The department also participates in the PhD in Information Technology Program with the following concentrations: PhD study in information security and assurance, PhD study in information systems, and PhD study in software engineering. See the descriptions below.

Undergraduate Programs

Applied Computer Science, BS

BS-ACS

This program presents an innovative approach to the integration of computer science with disciplines where knowledge of computation provides the required expertise for an emerging subdiscipline.

Degree Requirements

For the BS-ACS degree, students must complete 120 credits, including the university general education requirements, consisting of humanities, social sciences, synthesis, and basic science requirements (if needed), the program requires foundation, core, and concentration courses as described below. These course requirements provide expertise in programming, computer systems, software engineering, formal methods, and analysis of algorithms.

ACS foundation courses (22 credits): CS 101, 105, 112, 211; MATH 113, 114, 125, 203

ACS core (22 credits): ECE 301; CS 262, 310, 330, 367, 421, 465, 483

ACS elective (3 credits): One CS course numbered above 400

Concentration (36 credits): At least 36 additional credits to meet course requirements of one of the concentrations

These credits include either STAT 344 Statistics and Probability or a course in statistics relevant to the concentration. Current concentrations are biology and geography.

Concentration in Biology (BIOL)

  • Foundation (24 credits): BIOL 213, 303, 304, 305/6; CHEM 211, 212
  • Core: BIOL 311, 312, 385, 482, 580
  • One BIOL course numbered above 300

Concentration in Computer Game Design (CGDS)

  • Foundation (13 credits): CS 225, 325; AVT 104; STAT 344
  • Core: CS 425, 426, 451; AVT 382, 383
  • Two approved electives related to game design

(Natural science requirement will include PHYS 160/161 and 260/261.)

Concentration in Geography (GEOG)

  • Foundation (18 credits): GEOG 101, 102, 103, 110, 300; STAT 244
  • Core: GEOG 310, 311, 411, 412, 416, 463
  • One GEOG course numbered above 300

Students should consult the sample schedules below and ensure that course prerequisites are satisfied. Students should obtain computer-generated audits periodically to ensure that degree requirements are being met.

Sample Schedules

Biology Concentration
First Semester

BIOL 213 Cell Structure and Function

4

CS 101 Preview of Computer Science

2

CS 112 Introduction to Computer Programming

4

ENGL 101 Composition

3

MATH 113 Analytic Geometry and Calculus I

4

Second Semester

BIOL 303 Animal Biology

4

COMM 100 Oral Communications

3

CS 105 Computer Ethics and Society

1

CS 211 Object-Oriented Programming

3

MATH 114 Analytic Geometry and Calculus II

4

Third Semester

CHEM 211 General Chemistry I

4

CS 262 Low-level Programming

1

CS 310 Data Structures

3

ECE 303 Digital Electronics

3

MATH 125 Discrete Mathematics

3

Fourth Semester

BIOL 304 Plant Biology

4

CHEM 212 General Chemistry II

4

CS 367 Computer Systems and Programming

3

Western civilization course

3

Fifth Semester

BIOL 305/6 Biology of Microorganisms

4

CS 330 Formal Methods and Models

3

CS 465 Computer Systems Architecture

3

MATH 203 Matrix Algebra

3

Literature course

3

Sixth Semester

BIOL 311 Genetics

4

BIOL 482 Introduction to Molecular Biology

3

CS 421 Introduction to Software Engineering

3

ENGL 302 Advanced Composition

3

Arts course

3

Seventh Semester

BIOL 385 Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering

3

BIOL 312 Biostatistics (or STAT 344)

3

CS 483 Analysis of Algorithms

3

Global understanding course

3

Social science course

3

Eighth Semester

BIOL 580 Computer Applications in the Life Sciences

3

BIOL Senior

3

CS Senior

3

Synthesis course

3

Elective

1

Computer Game Design Concentration
First Semester

CS 101 Preview of Computer Science

2

CS 112 Introduction to Programming

4

ENGL 101 Composition

3

MATH 113 Analytic Geometry and Calculus I

4

PHYS 160/161 University Physics I

4

Second Semester

COMM 100 Oral Communications

3

CS 105 Computer Ethics and Society

1

CS 211 Object-Oriented Programming

3

MATH 114 Analytic Geometry and Calculus II

4

PHYS 260/261 University Physics II

4

Third Semester

CS 225 Culture of Games

3

CS 262 Low-Level Programming

1

CS 310 Data Structures

3

ECE 301 Digital Electronics

3

MATH 125 Discrete Mathematics

3

Western civilization course

3

Fourth Semester

AVT 104 Introduction to Digital Arts

4

CS 325 Introduction to Computer Game Design

3

CS 367 Computer Systems and Programming

3

MATH 203 Matrix Algebra

3

Fifth Semester

AVT 382 Digital Art and Animation

4

CS 330 Formal Methods and Models

3

CS 465 Computer Systems Architecture

3

Natural science course

4

Sixth Semester

AVT 383 Three-Dimensional Digital Art

4

CS 421 Introduction to Software Engineering

3

CS 451 Computer Graphics

3

STAT 344 Probability and Statistics for Engineers

3

Literature course

3

Seventh Semester

CS 425 Game Programming I

3

CS 483 Analysis of Algorithms

3

ENGL 302 Advanced Composition

3

Game design elective

3

Elective

3

Eighth Semester

CS 426 Game Programming II

3

CS Senior

3

Synthesis course

3

Game design elective

3

Elective

2

Geography Concentration
First Semester

CS 101 Preview of Computer Science

2

CS 112 Introduction to Programming

4

ENGL 101 Composition

3

GEOG 102 Physical Geography

3

MATH 113 Analytic Geometry and Calculus I

4

Second Semester

COMM 100 Oral Communications

3

CS 105 Computer Ethics and Society

1

CS 211 Object-Oriented Programming

3

GEOG 103 Human Geography

3

MATH 114 Analytic Geometry and Calculus II

4

Third Semester

CS 262 Low-Level Programming

1

CS 310 Data Structures

3

ECE 301 Digital Electronics

3

GEOG 101 Major World Regions

3

MATH 125 Discrete Mathematics

3

Western civilization course

3

Fourth Semester

CS 367 Computer Systems and Programming

3

GEOG 311 Introduction to GIS

3

GEOG 110 Maps and Mapping

3

MATH 203 Matrix Algebra

3

Arts course

3

Fifth Semester

CS 330 Formal Methods and Models

3

CS 465 Computer Systems Architecture

3

GEOG 300 Quant Methods for
Geographical Analysis

3

GEOG 412 Aerial Photography Interpretation

3

Natural science course

4

Sixth Semester

CS 421 Introduction to Software Engineering

3

GEOG 310 Introduction to Digital Cartography

3

GEOG 416 Satellite Image Analysis

3

STAT 344 Introduction to Statistics

3

Literature course

3

Seventh Semester

CS 483 Analysis of Algorithms

3

ENGL 302 Advanced Composition

3

GEOG 411 Advanced Digital Cartography

3

GEOG Senior

3

Elective

3

Eighth Semester

GEOG 463 Applied Geographic Information Systems

3

CS Senior

3

Synthesis course

3

Electives

2

Computer Science, BS

BS-CS

The objectives of the BS in Computer Science Program relate to the abilities of the graduates several years after graduation. The objectives include

  • Foundation for successful careers in industry: Graduates of the program will have a broad understanding of the fundamental concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications of computer science. They will have the educational foundation that leads to successful careers in the computing industry.
  • Foundation for graduate study: Graduates of the program will have the academic preparation for successful completion of rigorous graduate programs.
  • Professional preparation: Graduates will have effective in written, oral, and visual communication skills, and be able to work collaboratively in a professional and ethical manner.

This bachelor’s degree program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, 111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Baltimore, Maryland 21202-4012.

Degree Requirements

For the BS-CS degree, students must complete 120 credits, including the university general education requirements and all the following:

  • Computer science core (33 credits): CS 101, 105, 112, 211, 262, 306, 310, 330, 367, 421, 465, and 483; and ECE 301. Students must take CS 101 within their first year at the university. Students should take CS 105 during their second semester. A grade of C or better must be earned in CS 306 for this course to satisfy the university general education synthesis requirement.
  • Senior computer science (12 credits): Any four of the following: CS 440, 450, 451, 455, 468, 471, 475, 480, 482, 484, or 490
  • Mathematics (23 credits): MATH 113, 114, 125, 203, and 213; or 481 or MATH 446 and STAT 344. MATH 105 and 108 cannot be counted toward this degree.
  • Computer science-related courses (6 credits): Two courses chosen from STAT 354; OR 335, 441, 442; ECE 280, 431, 442, 447, 450, 511; SWE 432, 437, 443; SYST 371, 470; PHIL 371, 376; and any MATH or CS course numbered above 300 (except MATH 351). Students may need to choose electives to satisfy prerequisites for these courses. Those planning to take MATH 352 may replace STAT 344 with MATH 351.
  • Natural sciences: 12 credits in courses intended for scientists and engineers. Two of the courses for this requirement must have laboratory components and constitute a sequence. A list of relevant courses can be obtained from the department office.
  • COMM 100 (3 credits): Computer science students must make a technical presentation. The course fulfills the general education requirement in oral communication for Volgenau School students.
  • Three credits in arts, humanities, or social science in addition to the general education requirements

Students should consult the sample schedule below and ensure that course prerequisites are satisfied. Students should obtain computer-generated audits periodically to ensure that degree requirements are being met.

Sample Schedule

First Semester

CS 101 Preview of Computer Science

2

CS 112 Introduction to Computer Programming

4

ENGL 101 Composition

3

MATH 113 Analytic Geometry and Calculus I

4

Western civilization course

3

Total

16

Second Semester

CS 105 Computer Ethics and Society

1

CS 211 Object-Oriented Programming

3

MATH 114 Analytic Geometry and Calculus II

4

Arts course

3

Literature course

3

Total

14

Third Semester

CS 262 Introduction to Low-Level Programming

1

ECE 301 Digital Electronics

3

MATH 213 Analytic Geometry and Calculus III

3

Natural science course

4

Social and behavioral science course elective

3

Total

14

Fourth Semester

COMM 100 Oral Communication

3

CS 310 Data Structures

3

MATH 125 Discrete Mathematics I

3

Natural science course

4

General elective

3

Total

16

Fifth Semester

CS 330 Formal Methods and Models

3

CS 367 Computer Systems and Programming

3

ENGL 302 Advanced Composition

3

MATH 203 Matrix Algebra

3

Global understanding course

3

Total

15

Sixth Semester

CS 421 Introduction to Software Engineering

3

CS 465 Computer Systems Architecture

3

STAT 344 Probability and Statistics for Engineers and Scientists I

3

Humanities course

3

Natural science course

4

Total

16

Seventh Semester

CS 483 Analysis of Algorithms

3

OR 481 Numerical Methods in Engineering

3

Senior computer science course

3

Senior computer science course

3

Computer science-related elective

3

Total

15

Eighth Semester

Senior computer science courses

3

Senior computer science courses

3

Computer science related

3

CS 306 (Synthesis)

3

General elective

2

Total

14

Change of Major

Students requesting a change of major to computer science must have a GPA of at least 2.75 and successfully completed two of the following: CS 112, 211; MATH 113, 114, or 125.

Advanced Placement, Credit by Exam

Some students may receive credit for CS 112 or 211 by passing departmentally administered exams. In addition, a score of 3 on the Advanced Placement (AP) computer science exam qualifies the student for credit in CS 112. An AP score of 4, together with demonstrated competence in the programming language used in CS 211, qualifies students for credit in CS 211. A score of 4 on the International Baccalaureate computer science exam qualifies students for credit in CS 112, and a score of 5 or more qualifies students for credit in CS 211.

Writing-Intensive Requirement

Computer science majors complete the writing-intensive requirement through a sequence of projects and reports in CS 306 and 421. Faculty members provide feedback on students’ expository writing.

Grades

Students must earn a C or better in any course intended to satisfy a prerequisite for a computer science course. Computer science majors may not use more than one course with grade of C- or lower toward department requirements.

Cooperative Education

Students may participate in the Mason cooperative education program or a work-study program in the Washington, D.C., area.

BS/Accelerated MS in Computer Science

This program is for those interested in immediately continuing on to graduate studies in computer science.

Admission Requirements

Students in a BS program in computer science or a related area may apply for the BS/accelerated MS program if they have earned 90 undergraduate credits with an overall GPA of at least 3.50. Criteria for admission are identical to criteria for admission to the MS program.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete 144 credits that satisfy requirements for the BS program and the MS program, with 6 credits overlap.

Students register for 6 credits of CS 500-level basic courses in place of the corresponding CS 400-level courses required for the undergraduate degree requirements. That is, students must register for two of CS 540, 571, 580, and 583 in place of the corresponding 400-level courses.

Students are permitted to take additional graduate basic courses in their undergraduate programs. In such cases, those classes cannot be counted toward requirements for the MS.

Degree Conferral

Students must apply to have the BS degree conferred the semester before they expect to complete the BS requirements. At the completion of the MS requirements, a master’s degree is granted.

BS in Computer Science/Accelerated MS in Information Security and Assurance

This program is for students interested in immediately continuing their undergraduate studies in computer science with graduate studies in information security and assurance.

Admission Requirements

Students in the BS in Computer Science Program can apply for this program if they have earned 90 undergraduate credits with an overall GPA of at least 3.30. Criteria for admission are identical to criteria for admission to the MS in Information Security and Assurance Program.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete 144 credits that satisfy requirements for the BS in Computer Science Program, as well as those for the MS in Information Security and Assurance Program, with 6 credits overlapping. Students register for two of the following courses (6 credits of 500-level computer science core courses) in place of the corresponding 400-level computer science courses, as part of the undergraduate degree requirements: CS 540, 571, 580, and 583. Students complete all MS in information security and assurance core courses and apply the two courses from the above list toward the MS in information security and assurance requirements.

Degree Conferral

Students must apply to have the BS in computer science degree conferred the semester before they expect to complete the BS requirements. At the completion of the MS in information security and assurance requirements, a master’s degree will be granted.

BS in Computer Science/Accelerated MS in Information Systems

This program is for students interested in immediately continuing undergraduate studies in computer science with graduate studies in information systems.

Admission Requirements

Students in the BS in computer science program can apply to this program if they have earned 90 undergraduate credits with an overall GPA of at least 3.30. Criteria for admission are identical to the criteria for admission to the MS in Information Systems Program.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete 144 credits that satisfy requirements for the BS in Computer Science Program, as well as those for the MS in Information Systems Program, with 6 credits overlap.

Students register for two of the following courses (6 credits of 500-level computer science core courses) in place of the corresponding 400-level computer science courses, as part of the undergraduate degree requirements: CS 540, 571, 580, and 583.

Students complete all MS in information systems core courses and apply the two courses from above toward the MS in information systems elective requirements.

Degree Conferral

Students must apply to have the BS in computer science degree conferred the semester before they expect to complete the BS requirements. At the completion of the MS in information systems requirements, a master’s degree is granted.

BS in Computer Science/Accelerated MS in Software Engineering

This program is for students interested in immediately continuing undergraduate studies in computer science with graduate studies in software engineering.

Admission Requirements

Students in the BS in Computer Science Program can apply to this program if they have earned 90 undergraduate credits with an overall GPA of at least 3.30. Criteria for admission are identical to criteria for admission to the MS in Software Engineering Program.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete 144 credits that satisfy requirements for the BS in Computer Science Program, as well as those for the MS in Software Engineering Program, with 6 credits overlap.

Students register for two of the following courses (6 credits of 500-level computer science core courses) in place of the corresponding 400-level computer science courses, as part of the undergraduate degree requirements: CS 540, 571, 580, and 583. Students complete all MS in software engineering core courses and apply the two courses from the above list toward the MS in software engineering elective requirements.

Degree Conferral

Students must apply to have the BS in computer science degree conferred the semester before they expect to complete the BS requirements. At the completion of the MS in software engineering requirements, a master’s degree is granted.

BS in Information Technology/Accelerated MS in Information Security and Assurance

This program is for students interested in immediately continuing on to graduate studies in information security and assurance.

Admission Requirements

Students in the BS in Information Technology Program may apply for this program if they have earned 90 undergraduate credits with an overall GPA of at least 3.30. In addition, students must have completed INFS 515 and 519 with a 3.00 or better. Criteria for admission are identical to criteria for admission to the MS program.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete all credits that satisfy requirements for the BS program and those for the MS program, with 6 credits overlapping.

Degree Conferral

Students must apply to have the BS degree conferred the semester before they expect to complete the BS requirements. At the completion of MS requirements, a master’s degree is granted.

BS in Information Technology/Accelerated MS in Information Systems

This program is for students interested in immediately continuing on to graduate studies in information systems.

Admission Requirements

Students in the BS in Information Technology Program may apply if they have earned 90 undergraduate credits with an overall GPA of at least 3.30. In addition, students must have completed INFS 515 and 519 with a 3.00 or better. Criteria for admission are identical to the criteria for admission to the MS program.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete all credits that satisfy requirements for the BS program as well as those for the MS program, with 6 credits overlapping.

Degree Conferral

Students must apply to have the BS degree conferred the semester before they expect to complete BS requirements. At the completion of MS requirements, a master’s degree is granted.

BS in Information Technology/Accelerated MS in Software Engineering

This program is for students interested in immediately continuing on to graduate studies in software engineering.

Admission Requirements

Students in the BS in Information Technology Program may apply to this program if they have earned 90 undergraduate credits with an overall GPA of at least 3.30. In addition, students must have completed INFS 515 and 519 with a 3.00 or better. Criteria for admission are identical to criteria for admission to the MS in Software Engineering Program.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete all credits that satisfy requirements for the BS program and those for the MS in Software Engineering Program, with 6 credits overlapping with SWE 619 and 622.

Degree Conferral

Students must apply to have the BS degree conferred the semester before they expect to complete the BS requirements. At the completion of MS requirements, a master’s degree is granted.

Minor in Computer Science

The minor requires completion of at least 17 credits. Required courses are CS 105 or 306, 112, 211, and 310.

Two additional computer science courses should be selected from the following: CS 330, 332, 363, 365, 367, 421, 450, 451, 455, 468, 471, 480, 483, and 484. Students should pay careful attention to prerequisites when selecting courses.

Minor in Software Engineering

Candidates for the minor in software engineering must complete 16 credits in software engineering with a minimum GPA of 2.00, comprising CS 112 and either CS 211 or CS 222, and three from CS/SWE 332, CS/SWE 421, SWE 432, SWE 437, and SWE 443. At least 8 credits must be used only for the minor and not for the student’s major.

For policies governing all minors, see the Academic Policies chapter of this catalog.

Computer Science, Computer Engineering Double Major

Computer science majors can earn a double major in computer science and computer engineering if they complete an additional 26 credits of courses beyond the 120 credits required for the computer science degree. The additional 26 credits must be part of an approved plan of study. For more information, visit the department web site.

Certificate in Computer Science (Postbachelor)

CERB-CS

This certificate targets students who are working on or possess an undergraduate degree in a technical (science or engineering) field but lack formal certification in the computer science field. The certificate also targets students who have shown an aptitude for graduate study but do not have the academic prerequisites required for admittance into a graduate MS computer science program.

Admissions Requirements

Students must have programming experience at the level of CS 112 and 211, and either a BS in a technical field with a 3.00 GPA or higher, or current enrollment in a technical undergraduate major.

Certificate Requirements

Basic Computer Science: CS 310, 330, 365, 367; and ECE 301

Math: MATH 125, 213

Completion of one of the following: CS 483; and two of CS 421, 440, 450, 451, 455, 468, 471, 480, and 484

Graduate Programs

Computer Science, MS

MS-CS

The graduate program leading to an MS in computer science prepares students for research and professional practice in computer science and related technologies. The program includes both fundamentals and advanced work in the areas of artificial intelligence and databases, programming languages and software engineering, systems and networks, theoretical computer science, and visual computing. Graduate classes are divided into basic classes, which do not have a graduate class as prerequisite, and advanced classes, which have a graduate class as a prerequisite. Graduate classes are generally offered in the late afternoon and evening. Financial aid in the form of graduate assistantships may be available for full-time degree-seeking students.

Plan of Study

Before the end of the second semester, students must have a plan of study approved by their academic advisor. This plan should be kept up to date by regular consultation with the academic advisor. A final signed version of the plan must be included when the student submits a graduation application.

Admission Requirements

In addition to fulfilling Mason’s admission requirements for graduate study, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree that includes Data Structures and Algorithms (CS 310), Automata Theory and Formal Languages (CS 330), and Computer Architecture including Assembly Language (CS 465). Students also must have completed Calculus I and II and a substantial course in discrete mathematics (such as MATH 125). Students with some deficiencies in preparation may be admitted provisionally pending completion of foundation courses in mathematics or computer science. Undergraduate credit earned for this purpose may not be applied toward the graduate degree.
  • Have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.00 for the last two years of undergraduate work, preferably with a major in a technical field such as computer science, mathematics, physical sciences, engineering, or information systems.
  • Submit transcripts of all postsecondary education, a self-assessment form (included in the application package or available from the department), three letters of recommendation, and an official GRE report.

Degree Requirements

In addition to general university requirements, completion of this program requires 30 credits of graduate courses as follows:

  • CS 583 Analysis of Algorithms is required.
  • At least five classes (15 credits) must qualify as “advanced” by having suitable graduate courses as prerequisites.
  • Advanced classes must be taken from three different areas. The list of preapproved classes with the areas they belong to is provided below.
  • At least six classes, including two advanced classes, must be designated CS.
  • At least eight classes have to be taken from the list of preapproved classes. Up to two computer science-related classes that are not on the list of preapproved classes may be taken with Computer Science Department approval.
  • All prerequisites must be satisfied. In some cases, basic classes (including CS 583) may be skipped with approval of the Computer Science Department if equivalent undergraduate classes were taken previously.
  • Project/Thesis (optional): three to six of the advanced classes may be replaced by a project (3 credits of CS 798) or a thesis (6 credits of CS 799). The project or thesis must be guided and approved by a committee of three appropriate faculty members and presented at an appropriate forum. The thesis must meet relevant university requirements.

Preapproved MS CS Courses by Area

Artificial Intelligence and Databases

  • CS 580 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (basic)
  • CS 650 Databases and Knowledge Engineering
  • CS 680 Natural Language Processing
  • CS 681 Designing Expert Systems
  • CS 685/ECE 651/SYST 672 Intelligent Systems for Robots
  • CS 687 Advanced Artificial Intelligence
  • CS 688 Pattern Recognition
  • CS 750/IT 750 Theory and Applications of Data Mining
  • CS 771/IT 817 Neural Networks
  • CS 775/IT 844 Advanced Pattern Recognition
  • CS 780 Data Mining in Multimedia Databases
  • CS 782 Machine Learning
  • CS 785 Knowledge Acquisition
  • INFS 614 Database Management (basic)
  • INFS 740 Database Programming for the Web
  • INFS 755 Data Warehousing and Mining
  • INFS 760 Advanced Database Management
  • INFS 764 Object-Oriented Database Systems
  • INFS 772 Intelligent Agents and the Semantic Web
  • INFS 795 Special Topics in Data Mining Applications
  • ISA 765 Database and Distributed Systems Security
  • CS 811/IT 811 Research Topics in Machine Learning and Inference
  • CS 880/IT 910 Research Topics in Artificial Intelligence
  • CS 884/IT 940 Advanced Topics in Computer Vision and Robotics

Programming Languages and Software Engineering

  • CS 540 Language Processors (basic)
  • CS 631 Object-Oriented Software Development
  • CS 640 Advanced Compilers
  • CS 645 Programming Language Semantics
  • CS 719/IT 809 Scaling Technologies for E-business
  • CS 732/IT 822 Software Maintenance and Reuse
  • ISA 640 Programming Language Security
  • ISA 681 Secure Software Design
  • SWE 619 Object-Oriented Software Specification and Construction (basic)
  • SWE 620 Software Requirements Analysis and Specification (basic)
  • SWE 621 Software Modeling and Architectural Design
  • SWE 622 Distributed Software Engineering
  • SWE 623 Formal Methods and Models in Software Engineering
  • SWE 632 User Interface Design and Development
  • SWE 637 Software Testing
  • SWE 642 Software Engineering for the World Wide Web
  • SWE 645 Component-Based Software Development
  • SWE 720 Advanced Software Requirements
  • SWE 721 Reusable Software Architectures
  • SWE 727 Quality of Service for Software Architectures

Systems and Networks

  • CS 555 Computer Communications and Networking (basic)
  • CS 571 Operating Systems (basic)
  • CS 635 Introduction to Parallel Computation
  • CS 668 Computer Architecture Systems
  • CS 671 Advanced Operating Systems
  • CS 672 Computer Systems Performance Evaluation
  • CS 673 Multimedia Computing and Systems
  • CS 675 Distributed Systems
  • CS 706 Concurrent Software Systems
  • CS 755 Advanced Computer Networks
  • CS 756 Performance Analysis of Computer Networks
  • CS 758/IT 758 Networked Virtual Environments
  • CS 773 Real-time Systems Design and Development
  • CS 818/IT 818 Topics in Computer Systems
  • ISA 562 Information Security Theory and Practice (basic)
  • ISA 564 Security Laboratory (basic)
  • ISA 656 Network Security
  • ISA 673 Operating System Security
  • ISA 674 Intrusion Detection
  • ISA 697 Topics in Information Security
  • ISA 763 Security Protocol Analysis
  • ISA 764 Security Experimentation
  • ISA 767 Secure Electronic Commerce
  • ISA 785 Digital Forensics

Theoretical Computer Science

  • CS 583 Analysis of Algorithms (basic)
  • CS 600 Theory of Computation
  • CS 633 Computational Geometry
  • CS 683 Parallel Algorithms
  • CS 684 Graph Algorithms
  • CS 735 Concurrency
  • CS 753/IT 815 Parallel Computation
  • CS 850/IT 915 Research Topics in Parallel Computation

Visual Computing

  • CS 652 Computer Graphics
  • CS 662 Computer Graphics Game Technologies
  • CS 682 Computer Vision
  • CS 686 Image Processing
  • CS 752 Interactive Graphics Software
  • CS 774/IT 835 Computational Vision
  • CS 776/IT 852 Graphical Real-Time Simulation
  • CS 777 Human-Computer Intelligent Interaction
  • CS 778/IT 778 Biometrics
  • CS 884/IT 940 Advanced Topics in Computer Vision and Robotics

These courses are not classified by area. Note that CS 695/CS 795 can be used to satisfy the breadth requirement if the area is listed in the syllabus for the course.

  • CS 695 Topics in Computer Science
  • CS 697 Independent Reading and Research
  • CS 795 Advanced Topics in Computer Science
  • CS 798 Project Seminar
  • CS 799 Thesis
  • CS 895 Research Topics in Computer Science

Information Systems, MS

MS-ISYS

This professional degree program focuses on the technical, managerial, and policy issues associated with designing, building, and maintaining information systems in organizations. Data, information, and knowledge are crucial to the modern enterprise, and the MS in information systems (MSIS) addresses both the theoretical and engineering aspects of specifying, designing, implementing, and managing large-scale information systems.

The goals of the MSIS are to provide a high-quality program that allows students with diverse baccalaureate and professional backgrounds to obtain the MS degree; provide a technical body of knowledge that will allow students to analyze, design, deploy, maintain, and manage information systems in large organizations such as industry, government, and nonprofits; and provide a course of study that allows professionals to pursue a technical or a managerial approach to information systems.

The career paths open to graduates include technical and management positions. Technical positions include systems analyst, data administrator, information architect, database administrator, systems architect, decision analyst, data warehouse administrator, database programmer, web-based information systems designer and programmer, information engineer, and knowledge engineer. Management positions include chief information officer, chief knowledge officer, chief privacy officer, project manager, and webmaster.

All classes are scheduled in the late afternoon and early evening to accommodate employed students.

Foundation Requirements

To ensure students have an adequate background in mathematical methods, computer technology, and business knowledge, the program requires the following foundation courses or their equivalents:

  • INFS 501 Discrete and Logical Structures for Information Systems
  • INFS 515 Computer Organization
  • INFS 519 Program Design and Data Structures
  • SWE 510 Object-Oriented Programming in Java

When applying to the MSIS Program, applicants are asked to complete a department self-evaluation form indicating whether previously taken courses may satisfy these foundation requirements. On acceptance, students are advised of the necessary foundation courses to be satisfactorily completed to meet this requirement. Foundation courses do not earn credit toward the MS degree; however, they must be successfully completed with a grade of B or better before enrolling in the core curriculum.

Students may test out to indicate they have the requisite knowledge for those foundations of SWE 510, INFS 501, 515, and 519. The exams are given before classes begin in January and August, and can only be taken once. Registration is not required; students need only be present at the date, time, and location specified, and bring some form of photographic identification. Detailed information is available on the department web site. Students failing any of the exams must take the equivalent course before enrolling in the core curriculum courses.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must hold a four-year (120-credit) baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and have earned a GPA of 3.00 or better in the last 60 credits. They also must meet the following requirements:

  • Show proof of a satisfactory score on the GMAT or GRE, if required. The applicable test should have been taken within five years of applying for admission. The department policy is that the GMAT or GRE is required unless the applicant has an undergraduate degree in science or engineering from a U.S. university and graduated with a GPA of 3.00 or better in the last 60 hours; a graduate degree in science or engineering from a U.S. university; or been admitted as a nondegree student and meets all the following requirements: an undergraduate degree from a U.S. university, an undergraduate GPA of 3.00 or better in the last 60 hours, and a B or better grade in all foundation courses taken at Mason or elsewhere.
  • Submit the appropriate application forms with three letters of recommendation from people directly knowledgeable of the applicant’s professional and academic competence, a one-page goals statement, and a work résumé.

Submit a department self-evaluation form that is essential for evaluating foundation requirements by the department faculty. This form may be obtained from the department office or the department web page. International students must submit their TOEFL score.

Advising

The department holds orientation meetings in January and August to advise newly admitted and continuing students. Members of the faculty are present to answer questions and offer advice concerning programs of study. Detailed information is available on the department web site.

The department also provides an advising function to students, as outlined in the student advising form available from the department. Each student is assigned a faculty advisor with whom to confer on matters related to degree requirements. A plan of study form for the MS degree should be completed and submitted by the student soon after admission to the program. This plan serves as a guide for the student.

Degree Requirements

Completion of the MS program requires a minimum of 30 approved graduate credits (10 courses). To provide a common background in the fundamentals of information systems, the following four courses are required of all students:

  • INFS 612 Principles and Practices of Communication Networks
  • INFS 614 Database Management
  • INFS 622 Information Systems Analysis and Design
  • ISA 562 Information Security Theory and Practice

For students taking the emphasis area and/or graduate certificate in software engineering, SWE 620 should be substituted for INFS 622.

The core courses constitute the technical body of knowledge for the program. The elective courses are organized into the following emphasis areas: database management, data mining, and data warehousing; electronic commerce; software engineering; knowledge management; and information security and assurance.

Elective Courses

Students may take six elective courses within an emphasis area, or they may mix and match electives according to their professional interests. Students may also plan their electives so as to obtain certificates offered by the department. There are also preapproved electives from other programs in the Volgenau School, as well as from university-wide programs. The department’s web site has a list of preapproved electives. Special courses may be used as electives with the approval of the student’s academic advisor and the graduate coordinator.

Listed below are the emphasis areas and the approved courses in each area.

Database Management

  • INFS 623 Classical and Web Information Retrieval
  • INFS 740 Database Programming for the Web
  • INFS 760 Advanced Database Management
  • INFS 772 Intelligent Agents and the Semantic Web
  • INFS 796 Directed Readings
  • ISA 765 Database and Distributed Systems Security

Data Mining and Data Warehousing

  • CS 780 Data Mining in Multimedia Databases
  • CS 782 Machine Learning
  • INFS 755 Data Warehousing and Mining
  • INFS 623 Classical and Web Information Retrieval
  • INFS 795 Special Topics in Data Mining Applications
  • INFS 785 Data Mining for Homeland Security
  • INFS 796 Directed Readings

Electronic Commerce

  • INFS 640 Introduction to Electronic Commerce
  • INFS 770 Knowledge Management for E-Business
  • INFS 772 Intelligent Agents and the Semantic Web
  • INFS 790 Information Systems Policy and Administration
  • INFS 796 Directed Readings
  • ISA 656 Network Security
  • ISA 767 Secure Electronic Commerce

Software Engineering

  • SWE 619 Object-Oriented Software Specification and Construction
  • SWE 621 Software Architecture and Design
  • SWE 625 Software Project Management
  • SWE 632 User Interface Design and Development
  • SWE 637 Software Testing
  • SWE 642 Software Engineering for the World Wide Web
  • SWE 721 Reusable Software Architectures
  • SWE 727 Quality of Service for Software Architectures

Knowledge Management

  • CS 580 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • CS 681 Expert Systems
  • CS 785 Knowledge Acquisition
  • INFS 623 Classical and Web Information Retrieval
  • INFS 650 Microsoft .NET Framework for Information Systems Applications
  • INFS 740 Database Programming for the Web
  • INFS 755 Data Warehousing and Mining
  • INFS 770 Knowledge Management for E-Business
  • INFS 772 Intelligent Agents and the Semantic Web
  • INFS 774 Enterprise Architecture
  • INFS 790 Information Systems Policy and Administration
  • INFS 796 Directed Readings

Information Security and Assurance

  • ISA 640 Programming Languages Security
  • ISA 656 Network Security
  • ISA 673 Operating Systems Security
  • ISA 674 Intrusion Detection
  • ISA 681 Secure Software Design
  • ISA 763 Security Protocol Analysis
  • ISA 764 Security Experimentation
  • ISA 765 Database and Distributed Systems Security
  • ISA 767 Secure Electronic Commerce
  • ISA 796 Directed Readings in Information Security

Certificates may be also obtained by following the specific instructions for each, available at the department web site: database management, data mining, information engineering, electronic commerce, information security and assurance, software engineering, and web-based software engineering. These certificates are described in the computer science certificates section of this catalog.

Students, with the consent of a faculty sponsor and faculty advisor, may also elect courses in individualized study, special topics, or a 6-credit thesis, which is primarily intended for students planning to pursue a PhD in information technology with a concentration in information systems. The course designations are

  • INFS 697 Topics in Information Systems
  • INFS 796 Directed Readings in Information Technology
  • INFS 797 Advanced Topics in Information Systems
  • INFS 798 Research Project
  • INFS 799 Thesis

Software Engineering, MS

MS-SWE

This program provides specialized knowledge and experience in developing and modifying large, complex software systems. It emphasizes technical and management aspects of software engineering development. Software engineering is an established discipline based on requirements analysis, design, construction, testing, maintenance, economics, and management issues. A pragmatic approach to problem solving is the hallmark of a software engineer. Software engineers are concerned with the theoretical and practical aspects of technology, cost, and social impact of software systems that are effective and efficient.

Software engineers are in demand in every segment of society affected by computing technology. Potential employers include all software vendors and Internet-based companies, electronic business organizations, businesses that build and sell computers, research and development laboratories, aerospace companies, government contractors, banks, insurance companies, and manufacturing organizations. The master’s program is concerned with technical and managerial issues, but primary emphasis is placed on the technical aspects of building and modifying high-quality software systems.

Successful applicants have a broad variety of undergraduate backgrounds, including computer science, science and mathematics, engineering, liberal arts, and business. Many students are working or have worked in the software industry.

The program is revised on a regular basis to stay abreast of the latest developments in information technology (IT). The program introduced a major revision for fall 2005; recent additions include software construction with the object-oriented Java programming language, requirements analysis with use cases and the Unified Modeling Language (UML), object-oriented software design with the UML, graphical user interface design, software engineering for the web, software project management using the spiral life cycle model and the Capability Maturity Model, software architecture, design patterns, system testing and testing of object-oriented components, and formal methods using the Object Constraint Language. All classes are scheduled in the late afternoon and early evening to accommodate employed students.

Foundation Requirements

Students entering the MS program must have course work or equivalent knowledge in the following areas: introductory programming in any language; knowledge of an object-oriented programming language such as Java, C++, or C#; data structures and algorithms; machine organization (such as those given in computer system architecture or assembly language courses); and topics in discrete mathematics, including sets, relations, functions, trees, graphs, and inductive proofs. The level of knowledge required in these areas is equivalent to that taught in undergraduate courses and may be achieved by taking the following foundation courses from Mason:

  • INFS 501 Discrete and Logical Structures for Information Systems
  • INFS 515 Computer Organization
  • INFS 519 Program Design and Data Structures
  • SWE 510 Object-Oriented Programming in Java

In addition, it is desirable, though not required, that entering students have at least one year of work experience in building or modifying software systems.

Prospective students are asked to complete a department self-evaluation form, indicating whether previously taken courses may satisfy these foundation requirements. On acceptance, students are advised of the necessary foundation courses to be satisfactorily completed to meet this requirement. Foundation courses do not earn credit toward the MS degree; however, they must be successfully completed with a grade of B or better before enrolling in the core curriculum.

Students may test out to indicate they have the requisite knowledge for those foundation courses. The exams are given before classes begin in January and August, and can only be taken once. Registration is not required; students need only be present at the date, time, and location specified and bring some form of photographic identification. Detailed information is available on the department web site. Students failing any one of the exams must take the equivalent course before enrolling in the core curriculum courses.

Admission Requirements

In addition to general admission requirements of the university, each applicant to the MS program must hold a four-year (120-credit) baccalaureate degree in an appropriate discipline from an accredited institution and have earned a GPA of 3.00 or better in the last 60 credits of undergraduate study. Other requirements are as follows:

  • Provide a one- to two-page statement of educational and work experience in the computing field that includes a statement of career goals in software engineering.
  • Submit a department self-evaluation form, which can be obtained from the department. This form provides summary information concerning background and preparation for the program.
  • Show proof of a satisfactory score on the GRE, if required. The test should have been taken within five years of applying for admission. The department policy is that the GRE is required unless the applicant has an undergraduate degree in science or engineering from a U.S. university and graduated with a GPA of 3.00 or better in the last 60 hours; a graduate degree in science or engineering from a U.S. university; or been admitted as a nondegree student and meets all the following requirements: an undergraduate degree from a U.S. university, an undergraduate GPA of 3.00 or better in the last 60 hours, and a B in all foundation courses taken at Mason or elsewhere.
  • Submit the appropriate application form with three letters of recommendation from people directly knowledgeable of the applicant’s professional and academic competence.

Acceptance into the MS program is based on an overall assessment of the applicant’s ability to complete the program of study satisfactorily. Well-qualified students with minor deficiencies may be admitted to the program in provisional status, with specified course work to be completed within a specified time.

Advising

The department holds orientation meetings each January and August to advise incoming and continuing students. Members of the faculty are present to answer questions and offer advice concerning programs of study. Detailed information is available on the department web site.

The department also provides an advising function to students, as outlined in the student advising form available from the department. Each student is assigned a faculty advisor with whom to confer on matters related to degree requirements. A plan of study form for the MS degree should be completed and submitted by the student soon after admission; this plan serves as a guide for the student.

Degree Requirements

In addition to the general requirements of the university, the MS in software engineering requires a minimum of 30 graduate credits. The course work is divided into three categories: a breadth requirement of 12 credits of core courses, a depth requirement of 9 credits of emphasis courses, and 9 credits of elective courses.

Four Core Courses (12 credits)

  • SWE 619 Object-Oriented Software Specification and Construction
  • SWE 620 Software Requirements Analysis and Specification
  • SWE 621 Software Modeling and Architectural Design
  • SWE 622 Distributed Software Engineering

Emphasis Courses (9 credits)

Students may choose an emphasis by taking three courses from one of the emphasis areas of software design, software assurance, software management, and web applications. With permission from the advisor, a student may choose to not take an emphasis. The emphasis area courses are

Software Design

  • SWE 626 Software Project Laboratory
  • SWE 632 User Interface Design and Development
  • SWE 721 Reusable Software Architectures
  • SWE 727 Quality of Service for Software Architectures
  • SWE 781 Secure Software Design and Programming

Software Assurance

  • SWE 623 Formal Methods and Models in Software Engineering
  • SWE 637 Software Testing
  • SWE 723 Precise Modeling
  • SWE 781 Secure Software Design and Programming

Software Management

  • SWE 625 Software Project Management
  • SWE 626 Software Project Laboratory
  • SWE 630 Software Engineering Economics
  • SWE 637 Software Testing

Web Applications

  • SWE 632 User Interface Design and Development
  • SWE 637 Software Testing
  • SWE 642 Software Engineering for the World Wide Web
  • SWE 645 Component-Based Software Development

Elective courses (9 credits)

Students may select the remaining courses from the list of approved courses, including other emphasis areas, available from the department office and department web site. Students may choose other graduate electives with the consent of their faculty advisor and the graduate coordinator.

Students, with the consent of a faculty sponsor and faculty advisor, may also elect courses in individualized study, special topics, or a 6-credit thesis, which is primarily intended for students planning to pursue a PhD in information technology with a concentration in software engineering. The course designations are

  • SWE 699 Special Topics in Software Engineering
  • SWE 796 Directed Readings in Software Engineering
  • SWE 798 Research Project
  • SWE 799 Thesis

Information Security and Assurance, MS

MS-ISA

The Department of Computer Science’s master of science degree program in information security and assurance prepares graduates to fill the current and future need for information security and assurance professionals. Graduates work in a wide variety of capacities, protecting the information systems of different types of organizations and supporting the nation’s information infrastructure. The master of science in information security and assurance provides students with the general and technical knowledge and skills to understand the relationship between information security and advancing information systems technology. The program gives graduates a theoretical understanding of the science and methodologies for ensuring the secrecy and integrity of data, as well as the availability and legitimate use of data and information systems.

Students focus on the technical and management aspects of information security and examine ways to provide secure information processing systems by investigating operating systems security, distributed secure system architectures, database security, software applications security, security policies, secure e-commerce, network and distributed systems security, cryptography, and security protocols. Graduates of the program are actively recruited by federal, state, and local governments, as well as the private sector. Typical employers include Internet-based companies, software companies, banks and insurance companies, and in general any organization that depends heavily on the use of IT. All classes are scheduled in the late afternoon and early evening to accommodate employed students.

Foundation Requirements

To ensure that students have an adequate background in mathematical methods and computer technology, the program requires the following four foundation courses, or their equivalents:

  • INFS 501 Discrete and Logical Structures for Information Systems
  • INFS 515 Computer Organization
  • INFS 519 Program Design and Data Structures
  • SWE 510 Object-Oriented Programming in Java

Prospective students are asked to complete a department self-evaluation form, indicating whether previously taken courses may satisfy these foundation requirements. On acceptance, students are advised of the necessary foundation courses to be satisfactorily completed to meet this requirement. Foundation courses do not earn credit toward the MS degree; however, they must be successfully completed with a grade of B or better before enrolling in the core curriculum.

Students may test out to indicate that they have the requisite knowledge for those foundations of INFS 501, 515, and 519. The exams are given before classes begin in January and August, and can only be taken once. Registration is not required; students need only be present at the date, time, and location specified with some form of photographic identification. Detailed information is available on the department web site. Students failing any one of the exams must take the equivalent course before enrolling in the core curriculum courses.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must hold a four-year (120-credit) baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and have earned a GPA of 3.00 or better in the last 60 credits. Other requirements are as follows:

  • Show proof of a satisfactory score on the GMAT or GRE, if required. The applicable test should have been taken within five years of applying for admission. The department policy is that the GMAT or GRE is required unless the applicant has an undergraduate degree in science or engineering from a U.S. university and graduated with a GPA of 3.00 or better in the last 60 hours; a graduate degree in science or engineering from a U.S. university; or been admitted as a nondegree student and meets all the following requirements: an undergraduate degree from a U.S. university, an undergraduate GPA of 3.00 or better in the last 60 hours, and a B in all foundation courses taken at Mason or elsewhere.
  • Submit the appropriate application forms with three letters of recommendation from people directly knowledgeable of the applicant’s professional and academic competence, a one-page goals statement, and a work résumé.
  • Submit a department self-evaluation form that is essential for evaluating foundation requirements by the department faculty. This form may be obtained from the department office.

Advising

The department holds orientation meetings each January and August to advise newly admitted and continuing students. Members of the faculty are present to answer questions and offer advice concerning programs of study. Detailed information is available on the department web site.

The department also provides an advising function to students, as outlined in the student advising form available from the department. Each student is assigned a faculty advisor with whom to confer on matters related to degree requirements. A plan of study form for the MS degree should be completed and submitted by the student soon after admission to the program. This serves as a planning guide for the student.

Degree Requirements

Completion of the degree program requires a minimum of 30 approved graduate credits (10 courses). To provide the necessary background and fundamentals of information systems security and assurance, the program has three [Please check: four courses listed] courses that are required of all students:

  • CS 555 Computer Communications and Networking
  • CS 571 Operating Systems
  • ISA 562 Information Security Theory and Practice
  • ISA 563 Fundamentals of Systems Programming

To continue in the program, students are required to obtain a B- or better grade in the required courses. Students are allowed to repeat the required classes. Students are encouraged to complete the required courses before pursuing the electives.

Elective Courses

Security Electives

To provide breadth and depth of knowledge in information security and assurance, the degree program requires four electives to be taken from the following list of ISA courses:

  • ISA 564 Security Laboratory
  • ISA 640 Programming Languages Security
  • ISA 650 Security Policy
  • ISA 652 Security Audit and Compliance Testing
  • ISA 656 Network Security
  • ISA 673 Operating Systems Security
  • ISA 674 Intrusion Detection
  • ISA 681 Secure Software Design
  • ISA 763 Security Protocol Analysis
  • ISA 764 Security Experimentation
  • ISA 765 Database and Distributed Systems Security
  • ISA 767 Secure Electronic Commerce
  • ISA 785 Digital Forensics
  • IT 862 Security Models

Other Electives

The remaining two courses may be chosen from any combination of (1) courses at the ISA 600 and 700 level, including ISA 697, ISA 796, ISA 797, and ISA 798; (2) courses at the CS 500, 600, and 700 level; and (3) a list of preapproved qualified electives available from the department office or department web site. A thesis option is available whereby a student may elect to complete a 6-credit thesis.

Certificates

The department offers certificates in biometrics, computer games technologies, computer networking, database management, data mining, electronic commerce, foundations of information systems, information security and assurance, information engineering, intelligent agents, software architecture, software engineering, and web-based software engineering.

Course work toward these certificates can be used for credit toward the department MS programs or PhD in computer science or PhD in information technology. Note also that the certificates also may be pursued independently, as well as concurrently with any of the graduate degree programs in the Volgenau School.

Certificate in Biometrics

CERG-BMCS

Biometrics, the science of recovering or verifying a person’s identity, measures the physical characteristics that make people unique (including fingerprints, an eye’s retina or iris, face, hand geometry, signature, and voice) and uses those measurements for person recognition or authentication. Biometrics are related to the science of forensics, which uses and interprets physical evidence for legal purposes. The importance of biometrics lies in the fact that traditional means of identification and verification are often unreliable or cumbersome. Passwords are difficult to remember and easy to steal. Keys, driver’s licenses, and passports can be lost or forged. The human body and its behavior, on the other hand, can’t be forgotten, stolen, forged, or misplaced. Practical uses for such biometrics are widespread and include maintaining the security for physical space and cyberspace. In particular, biometrics aids in controlling access to an office, computer network or an ATM, smart cards, and wireless communication; confirming the identity of buyers and sellers to make electronic commerce safe and reliable; confirming student identity for distant learning; and safeguarding electronic records related to health care services.

The certificate requires completion of 15 credits and consists of two required courses and three courses of choice. Projects (3 credits) can substitute for one of the choice courses. One of the three courses of choice can be taken from another department, with the advisor’s approval, provided that it belongs to the certificate’s area.

Required Courses (6 credits)

  • CS 688/IT 688 Pattern Recognition
  • CS 778 Biometrics

Choose from the following elective courses (9 credits)

  • BINF 739 Signal and Image Processing for Bioinformatics
  • CS 580 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • CS 652 Computer Graphics
  • CS 673 Multimedia Computing and Systems
  • CS 682 Computer Vision
  • CS 686 Image Processing
  • CS 750 Theory and Applications of Data Mining
  • CS 774 Computational Vision
  • CS 775 Advanced Pattern Recognition
  • CS 777 Human-Computer Interaction

Certificate in Computer Games Technology

CERG-CGT

Admission Requirements

The certificate program in computer games technology is open to all students who are eligible for entrance into the master’s degree program in computer science or any scientific or engineering discipline at Mason. To obtain the certificate, candidates must complete the following courses for a total of 15 credits. Transfer credit may substitute for at most one of these courses, subject to department approval:

Certificate Requirements

Required courses (12 credits):

  • CS 652 Computer Graphics
  • CS 662 Computer Graphics Game Technologies
  • CS 758 Networked Virtual Environments
  • CS 777 Human Computer Interaction

Plus one courses from the following (3 credits):

  • AVT 616 Networked Art Practice
  • AVT 676 Sound and Music for Video and Animation
  • AVT 686 Three-Dimensional Video Art
  • AVT 688 Digital Animation
  • CS 633 Computational Geometry
  • CS 673 Multimedia Computing and Systems
  • CS 686 Image Processing and Applications
  • CS 687 Advanced Artificial Intelligence
  • CS 752 Interactive Graphics Software

Certificate in Computer Networking

CERG-CNET

When brought together to form computer networks, the technologies of computing and communications exhibit a synergy that is revolutionizing our world. In-depth knowledge of the new discipline of computer networking increasingly is in demand as a basis for design and deployment of new information systems ranging from aspects of the global Internet to distributed systems in a variety of application domains. The courses for this certificate have been selected to provide a solid basis for understanding the core software and communications technologies on which today’s networks are based and how they may be combined to create effective computer networks. Courses cover mainstream and leading-edge technology considerations, ensuring that students are prepared to function at the professional level in this fast-moving and technologically challenging field.

Admission Requirements

The certificate program is open to all students who are eligible for entrance into the master’s degree program in computer science or any scientific or engineering discipline at Mason.

Certificate Requirements

Students must complete the following courses, for a total of 15 credits:

Required courses (6 credits):

  • CS 555 Computer Communications and Networking
  • CS 571 Operating Systems

At least one of the following (3-6 credits):

  • CS 755 Advanced Computer Networks
  • CS 756 Performance Analysis of Computer Networks

One or two of the following electives (3 or 6 credits):

  • ECE 542 Computer Network Architectures and Protocols
  • ECE 642 Design and Analysis of Computer Communication Networks
  • ECE 742 High-Speed Networks
  • ISA 656 Network Security
  • ISA 666 Internet Security Protocols
  • IT 657 Advanced Network Science

Certificate in Foundations of Information Systems

CERG-FIS

This certificate program is designed primarily for students who earned an undergraduate degree in an area other than information systems and are willing to acquire solid foundations to pursue further education and career in information systems, software engineering, information security and assurance, or a related discipline.

Admission Requirements

The admission requirements for the certificate in foundations of information systems is a four-year bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.00 or higher. Also, the admission to the MS in Information Systems Program allows automatic admission to the certificate program.

Application forms may be obtained from the Computer Science Department or from the department web site.

Certificate Requirements

Certificate candidates must complete five courses, with an average grade of B or better, for a total of 15 credits of graduate study. To obtain the certificate, a student needs to complete the following:

Required courses (12 credits)

Take each one of the following foundation courses (no replacement is allowed):

  • INFS 501 Discrete and Logical Structures for Information Systems
  • INFS 515 Computer Organization
  • INFS 519 Program Design and Data Structures
  • SWE 510 Object-Oriented Programming in Java

Elective (3 credits)

Take any one course from the INFS, SWE, or ISA programs that do not require any prerequisites other than the above foundation courses.

Certificate in Database Management

CERG-DBM

This graduate certificate program provides comprehensive coverage that includes theoretical foundations, practical experience, and recent advances. The area of databases is considered by most experts to be a fundamental area of computer and information science.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and have earned a GPA of 3.00 or better in the last 60 credits. Applicants must complete a self-assessment form, which can be obtained from the Computer Science Department. The form provides information concerning background and preparation for the program.

Applicants must possess knowledge equivalent to that provided by the following courses:

  • INFS 501 Discrete and Logical Structures for Information Systems
  • INFS 515 Computer Organization
  • INFS 519 Program Design and Data Structures
  • SWE 510 Object-Oriented Programming in Java

Students not enrolled in a graduate degree program at Mason should apply for the database management certificate program through the Volgenau School Graduate Admissions Office. Students enrolled in a graduate degree program at Mason should contact the department for admission to the certificate program. Admission to the certificate program does not guarantee admission to any MS program.

Certificate Requirements

Students must complete five courses in information systems and IT with an average grade of B or higher, for a total of 15 credits of graduate study. To obtain the certificate, students must take the following:

Required courses (6 credits):

  • INFS 614 Database Management
  • INFS 760 Advanced Database Management

Three from the following (9 credits):

  • INFS 623 Classical and Web Information Retrieval
  • INFS 740 Database Programming for the Web
  • INFS 755 Data Warehousing and Mining
  • INFS 764 Object-Oriented Database Systems
  • INFS 795 Special Topics in Data Mining Applications
  • INFS 797 Advanced Topics in Database Management
  • ISA 765 Database and Distributed Systems Security
  • IT 861 Distributed Database Systems
  • IT 864 Scientific and Statistical Databases

For more information, contact the department or visit the department web site.

Certificate in Data Mining

CERG-DTM

This graduate certificate program is intended for people interested in the analysis and knowledge discovery from large and diverse data sources. The goal of the program is to study data mining concepts and successful applications. The certificate in data mining may be pursued concurrently with any of the graduate programs in the Volgenau School.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and have earned a GPA of 3.00 or better in the last 60 credits. In addition, applicants must complete a self-assessment form, which can be obtained from the Computer Science Department. This form provides summary information concerning background and preparation for the program.

Each applicant must possess knowledge equivalent to that provided by the following courses:

  • CS 310 Computer Science III
  • STAT 344 Probability and Statistics for Engineers and Scientists

Students not enrolled in a graduate degree program at Mason should apply for the data mining certificate program through the Volgenau School Graduate Admissions Office. Students enrolled in a graduate degree program at Mason should apply to the department for admission into the certificate program. Admission into the certificate program does not guarantee acceptance into any MS program.

Certificate Requirements

Students must complete five courses, with an average grade of B or better, for a total of 15 credits of graduate study. At least one course from three of the following groups must be taken to obtain the certificate:

Group I

  • CS 750 Theory and Applications of Data Mining
  • CS 780 Data Mining in Multimedia Databases
  • ISA 785 Digital Forensics
  • IT 844 Pattern Recognition

Group II

  • IT 875/CIS 703 Scientific and Statistical Visualization
  • IT 871 Statistical Data Mining
  • STAT 663/CSI 773 Statistical Graphics and Data Exploration
  • STAT 753 Computer Intrusion Detection

Group III

  • INFS 755 Data Warehousing and Mining
  • INFS 795 Data Mining Applications

Group IV

  • SYS/STAT 664 Bayesian Inference and Decision Analysis

Certificate in E-Commerce

CERG-ECOM

The Internet is having a significant effect on the way people interact with each other, government, and business. This graduate certificate program is for people who are interested in the use of Internet-based technology by people, government, and industry. We are witnessing the emergence of e-tailing, e-government, e-business, and business-to-business applications that are transforming society. The influence of electronic commerce is also being felt across international boundaries where it affects the management and administration of international business. The goal of the certificate in electronic commerce is to study the concepts, tools, policies, and underlying technology that enable Internet-based applications.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must hold a BS degree with a 3.00 or higher in the last 60 credits. They also must possess knowledge equivalent to the following four Mason courses, which are considered foundation courses: INFS 501 Discrete and Logical Structures for Information Systems, INFS 515 Computer Organization, INFS 519 Program Design and Data Structures, and SWE 510 Object-Oriented Programming in Java. Applicants also must possess equivalent knowledge of INFS 612 and 614; SWE 619, 620, and 621; or the prerequisite courses required for the selected electives.

Applicants must submit a one- to two-page statement of educational and work experience in the computing field. Applicants also need to complete a self-assessment form. The form provides summary information concerning background and preparation for the program.

For those students not enrolled in a Mason graduate degree program, application for the certificate program is made through the Volgenau School Graduate Admissions Office. Students enrolled in a Mason graduate degree program should contact the department for admission to the certificate program. Admission to the certificate program does not guarantee admission into any MS program.

Certificate Requirements

Students must complete five courses, with an average grade of B or better, for a total of 15 credits of graduate study. To obtain the certificate, a student must complete the following:

Two courses (6 credits):

  • INFS 640 Introduction to Electronic Commerce
  • INFS 770 Knowledge Management for E-Business

Three additional courses (9 credits) from the following:

Electives have been organized into emphasis areas, but students may also mix and match elective courses subject to satisfying course prerequisites:

Information Security

  • ISA 562 Information Security Theory and Practice
  • ISA 656 Network Security
  • ISA 767 Secure Electronic Commerce

Database Management

  • INFS 740 Database Programming for the Web
  • INFS 755 Data Warehousing and Mining
  • INFS 760 Advanced Database Management
  • INFS 772 Intelligent Agents and the Semantic Web
  • INFS 774 Enterprise Architecture

Internet Software Engineering

  • SWE 632 User Interface Design and Development
  • SWE 642 Software Engineering for the World Wide Web
  • SWE 645 Component-Based Software Development

Health Medical Information Systems

  • HAP 678 Introduction to the U.S. Health System*
  • HAP 714 Tele-Health Applications
  • HAP 740 Management of Health Information Systems

*Course may be waived for a person with experience in health care systems management and permission of the instructor.

Students enrolled in the MS in E-commerce program who wish to obtain the certificate in electronic commerce should consult the interdisciplinary programs, E-Commerce, MS in this catalog for details.

Certificate in Information Engineering

CERG-INFE

This graduate certificate program is tailored for people involved in the specification, design, implementation, and management of data- and knowledge-intensive information systems. The certificate program prepares students for research, development, and professional practice in information engineering by offering a hands-on set of courses providing theoretical knowledge and practical experience with methods and tools associated with database management systems, data modeling, knowledge acquisition, data and knowledge representation, and software engineering.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and have earned a GPA of 3.00 or higher in the last 60 credits. In addition, applicants must complete a self-assessment form, which can be obtained from the Computer Science Department. This form provides summary information concerning background and preparation for the program.

Applicant must possess knowledge equivalent to that provided by the following courses:

  • INFS 501 Discrete and Logical Structures for Information Systems
  • INFS 515 Computer Organization
  • INFS 519 Program Design and Data Structures
  • SWE 510 Object-Oriented Programming in Java

Students not enrolled in a Mason graduate degree program should apply for the information engineering certificate program through the Volgenau School Graduate Admissions Office. Students enrolled in a Mason graduate degree program should apply to the department for admission into the certificate program. Admission into the certificate program does not guarantee acceptance into any MS program.

Certificate Requirements

Students must complete five courses, with an average grade of B or better, for a total of 15 credits of graduate study. To obtain the certificate, students must complete the following:

Four required courses (12 credits):

  • INFS 612 Principles and Practices of Communication Networks
  • INFS 614 Database Management
  • SWE 620 Software Requirements Analysis and Specification
  • SWE 621 Software Modeling and Architectural Design

One of the following courses (3 credits):

  • INFS 770 Knowledge Management for E-Business
  • SWE 625 Software Project Management

Note: Students enrolled in the MS in Information Systems Program must substitute SWE 620 for INFS 622 to obtain this certificate. Credit is not given for taking both INFS 622 and SWE 620; only 3 credits will be awarded. For more information, contact the department or visit the department web site.

Certificate in Information Security and Assurance

CERG-ISA

This graduate certificate program is for people who are interested in science and methods for ensuring secrecy, integrity, availability, and legitimate use of information systems. The certificate may be pursued concurrently with any of the graduate programs in the Volgenau School.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and have earned a GPA of 3.00 or higher in the last 60 credits. In addition, applicants must complete a self-assessment form, which can be obtained from the Computer Science Department. This form provides summary information concerning background and preparation for the program.

Applicants must possess knowledge equivalent to that provided by the following courses:

  • INFS 501 Discrete and Logical Structures for Information Systems
  • INFS 515 Computer Organization
  • INFS 519 Program Design and Data Structures
  • SWE 510 Object-Oriented Programming in Java

Students must also possess the equivalent knowledge of CS 571 and CS 555, or the prerequisite courses required for the selected electives. Students not enrolled in a graduate degree program at Mason should apply for the certificate program through the Volgenau School Graduate Admissions Office. Students enrolled in a Mason graduate degree program should apply to the department for admission into the certificate program. Admission into the certificate program does not guarantee acceptance into any MS program.

Certificate Requirements

Students must complete five courses with an average grade of B or better for a total of 15 credits of graduate study.

Two required courses (6 credits):

  • ISA 562 Information Security Theory and Practice
  • ISA 656 Network Security

Three additional courses (9 credits):

Three electives to be taken from ISA 564 and courses at the ISA 600 and 700 level, excluding ISA 697, ISA 796, ISA 797, and ISA 798.

Certificate in Intelligent Agents

CERG-INAG

This certificate concentrates on the theory and practice of designing and developing systems that rely on knowledge and reasoning, generically called intelligent agents: expert systems, knowledge-based systems, knowledge-based decision support systems, expert database systems, intelligent tutoring systems, and so on. Capturing, using, preserving, transferring, and sharing knowledge is of critical importance to any organization as society evolves from an information society to a knowledge society. Therefore, the ability to design and develop intelligent agents for a wide variety of domains is becoming a highly valuable expertise. The courses in this certificate program cover the basics of knowledge engineering and intelligent agents, as well as advanced research topics. Basic topics include knowledge representation, knowledge acquisition, heuristic search, problem solving and planning, uncertainty reasoning, machine learning, natural language processing, design of expert systems, human-computer interaction, data mining, knowledge discovery, and knowledge management. Advanced topics include the development of multiagent systems, mixed-initiative intelligent systems, web-based intelligent agents, and distributed ontologies.

Admission Requirements

The program is open to all students who are eligible for entrance into the master’s degree program in computer science or any scientific or engineering discipline at Mason.

Certificate Requirements

Students must complete the following courses for a total of 15 credits:

Required (3 credits):

  • CS 580 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

Plus four of the following elective courses (12 credits):

  • CS 680 Natural Language Processing
  • CS 681 Designing Expert Systems
  • CS 685 Intelligent Systems for Robots
  • CS 687 Advanced Artificial Intelligence
  • CS 750 Theory and Applications of Data Mining
  • CS 777 Human-Computer Intelligent Interaction
  • CS 780 Data Mining in Multimedia Databases
  • CS 782 Machine Learning
  • CS 785 Knowledge Acquisition and Problem Solving
  • CS 798 Project Seminar
  • CS 811/IT 811 Research Topics in Machine Learning and Inference
  • CS 880/IT 910 Research Topics in Artificial Intelligence
  • INFS 772 Intelligent Agents and the Semantic Web

One of the four courses may be taken from another MS or PhD program in the Volgenau School with advisor approval, provided it belongs to the certificate area.

Certificate in Software Architecture

CERG-SWA

This graduate certificate program provides knowledge, tools, and techniques to those who are working or planning to work in software architecture but do not want to complete the requirements for a master’s degree in the field. The certificate may be pursued concurrently with any of the graduate degree programs in the Volgenau School.

Software architecture is an essential part of a software system and can be considered the backbone for such a system. Many industrial organizations recognize the important role of software architecture and have requested specific courses and graduate certification in this area. This proposed graduate certificate program addresses this industrial need. Mason is well-positioned to address this need because the university already offers several relevant courses and has the faculty with the necessary expertise to teach them.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and have earned a GPA of 3.00 or higher in the last 60 credits. In addition, applicants must complete a self-assessment form, which can be obtained from the department. This form provides summary information concerning background and preparation for the program.

Applicants must possess knowledge equivalent to the following undergraduate courses: structured programming in a modern programming language, data structures, discrete mathematics, and machine organization. The level of knowledge may also be achieved by taking the following foundation courses at Mason: INFS 501 Discrete and Logical Structures for Information Systems, SWE 510 Object-Oriented Programming in Java, INFS 515 Computer Organization, and INFS 519 Program Design and Data Structures. In addition, it is desirable, but not necessary, for applicants to have at least one year of appropriate work experience in building or modifying software systems.

Applicants must submit a one- to two-page statement of educational and work experience in the computing field that includes a statement of career goals in software engineering. Students not enrolled in a Mason graduate degree program should apply for the certificate program through the Volgenau School Graduate Admissions Office. Students enrolled in a Mason graduate degree program should apply to ISE for admission into the certificate program. Admission into the certificate program does not guarantee acceptance into any MS program.

Certificate Requirements

Students must complete five courses with an average grade of B or better for a total of 15 credits of graduate study.

Required courses (9 credits):

  • SWE 621 Software Modeling and Architectural Design
  • SWE 721 Reusable Software Architectures
  • SWE 727 Quality of Service for Software Architectures

Optional courses (minimum of two courses must be selected) (6 credits):

  • CS 672 Computer Systems Performance Evaluation
  • CS 732/IT 822 Software Maintenance and Reuse
  • CS 773 Real-Time Systems Design and Development
  • IT 823 Software for Critical Systems
  • SWE 620 Software Requirements Analysis and Specification
  • SWE 622 Distributed Software Engineering
  • SWE 625 Software Project Management
  • SWE 631/CS 631 Object-Oriented Design Patterns
  • SWE 637 Software Testing
  • SWE 641/SYST 621 Systems Architecture for Large-Scale Systems
  • SWE 781/ISA 681 Secure Software Design and Programming
  • SWE 645 Component-Based Software Development

Certificate in Software Engineering

CERG-SWE

This graduate certificate program provides knowledge, tools, and techniques to those who are working in or planning to work in software engineering but do not want to complete requirements for a master’s degree in the field. The certificate may be pursued concurrently with any of the graduate degree programs in the Volgenau School.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and have earned a GPA of 3.00 or higher in the last 60 credits. In addition, applicants must complete a self-assessment form, which can be obtained from the Computer Science Department. This form provides summary information concerning background and preparation for the program.

Applicants must possess knowledge equivalent to the following undergraduate courses: structured programming in a modern programming language, data structures, discrete mathematics, and machine organization. The level of knowledge may also be achieved by taking the following foundation courses at Mason: INFS 501 Discrete and Logical Structures for Information Systems, SWE 510 Object-Oriented Programming in Java, INFS 515 Computer Organization, and INFS 519 Program Design and Data Structures. In addition, it is desirable, but not necessary, for applicants to have at least one year of appropriate work experience in building or modifying software systems.

Applicants must submit a one- to two-page statement of educational and work experience in the computing field that includes a statement of career goals in software engineering. Students not enrolled in a Mason graduate degree program should apply for the certificate program through the Volgenau School Graduate Admissions Office. Students enrolled in a Mason graduate degree program should apply to the Computer Science Department for admission into the certificate program. Admission into the certificate program does not guarantee acceptance into any MS program.

Certificate Requirements

Students must complete five courses with an average grade of B or better for a total of 15 credits of graduate study.

Three required courses (9 credits):

  • SWE 619 Object-Oriented Software Specification and Construction
  • SWE 620 Software Requirements Analysis and Specification
  • SWE 621 Software Modeling and Architectural Design

Two additional courses (6 credits): (subject to satisfying their prerequisites) from the following:

  • CS 706 Concurrent Software Systems
  • CS 707 Distributed Software Systems
  • CS 735 Concurrency
  • SWE 622 Distributed Software Engineering
  • SWE 623 Formal Methods and Models in Software Engineering
  • SWE 625 Software Project Management
  • SWE 630 Software Engineering Economics
  • SWE 631 Object-Oriented Design Patterns
  • SWE 632 User Interface Design and Development
  • SWE 637 Software Testing
  • SWE 641/SYST 621 Systems Engineering of Information Architectures
  • SWE 642 Software Engineering for the World Wide Web
  • SWE 645 Component-Based Software Development
  • SWE 699 Special Topics in Software Engineering
  • SWE 720 Advanced Software Requirements
  • SWE 721 Reusable Software Architecture
  • SWE 723 Precise Modeling
  • SWE 763 Software Engineering Experimentation
  • SWE 781 Secure Software Design and Programming
  • SWE 724 Model-Driven Software Development
  • SWE 727 Quality of Service for Software Architectures
  • SWE 798 Research Project

Note: Students enrolled in the MS in Information Systems Program may substitute SWE 620 for INFS 622 to obtain this certificate. Credit is not given for taking both INFS 622 and SWE 620; only 3 credits will be awarded.

Students enrolled in the MS in Computer Science Program may obtain a certificate in software engineering by taking any five SWE courses. If CS/SWE 706 is included, it is possible to complete the MS in computer science and the certificate in software engineering within 30 hours.

Certificate in Web-Based Software Engineering

CERG-WBSE

This graduate certificate program provides knowledge, tools, and techniques to those who are working in or planning to work in web and distributed software applications. Graduate students in the Volgenau School may pursue a specialization in web-based software engineering leading to this certificate.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and have earned a GPA of 3.00 or better in the last 60 credits. Applicants must complete a self-assessment form, which can be obtained from department or the department web site. The form provides information concerning background and preparation for the program.

Applicants must possess knowledge equivalent to that provided by the following courses: INFS 501 Discrete and Logical Structures for Information Systems, SWE 510 Object-Oriented Programming in Java, INFS 515 Computer Organization, and INFS 519 Program Design and Data Structures.

Students not enrolled in a Mason graduate degree program should apply to the certificate program through the Volgenau School Graduate Admissions Office. Students enrolled in a Mason graduate degree program should contact the department for admission to the certificate program. Admission to the certificate program does not guarantee admission to any MS program.

Certificate Requirements

Students must complete five courses with an average grade of B or higher for a total of 15 credits of graduate study.

Three required courses (9 credits): SWE 622 Distributed Software Engineering

  • SWE 632 User Interface Design and Development
  • SWE 642 Software Engineering for the World Wide Web

One of the following courses (3 credits):

  • CS 656 Computer Communications and Networking
  • ECE 542 Computer Network Architectures and Protocols
  • INFS 612 Principles and Practices of Communication Networks

One of the following courses (3 credits):

  • CS 707 Distributed Software Systems
  • INFS 614 Database Management
  • ISA 666 Internet Security Protocols
  • SWE 619 Object-Oriented Software Specification and Construction
  • SWE 621 Software Modeling and Architectural Design
  • SWE 637 Software Testing
  • SWE 645 Component-Based Software Development

For more information, please consult the department web site.

Computer Science, PhD

PHD-CS

The PhD program requires course work, qualifying and comprehensive examinations, and a doctoral dissertation that is first proposed and eventually defended. Mason’s general doctoral requirements apply to this program.

Admission Requirements

All applicants must have an undergraduate degree, and their prior academic work must show a strong academic background in computer science. In addition, they must have taken the GRE exams: the General Test is required from every applicant; the Subject Test in Computer Science is not required but is recommended. Finally, each applicant must provide a brief statement of career goals and personal aspirations, as well as three letters of reference. Each application receives careful consideration from the PhD Admission Committee.

Qualifying Exams

Students must demonstrate breadth of knowledge in computer science by passing written qualifying exams. The exams are offered once every semester (usually in the week before the semester begins). To qualify, each student must pass exams in four areas, one of which is foundations of computer science. The other three areas are chosen from these eight areas: operating systems, networks, compilers and languages, object-oriented software specification and construction, software modeling and architectural design, artificial intelligence, database systems, and information systems security. The four exams must be attempted in the same semester, and a failed exam may be retaken once only in the next semester. A student who fails to pass the four exams in two consecutive semesters is subject to termination from the program. Each student must take a set of four exams no later than the first opportunity following the completion of 24 credits. If a student enters the program without a master’s degree in computer science or a related area, then the exams must be taken no later than the first opportunity following the completion of 36 credits.

Course Requirements

The course requirement for the degree is 72 credits. Of these, 30 credits at most may be granted for an approved MS degree. The following courses, totaling 30 credits, are required from all students: CS 700 Quantitative Methods and Experimental Design in Computer Science (3 credits); CS 800 Computer Science Colloquium (2 credits); CS 990 Dissertation Topic Presentation (1 credit); CS 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal (12 credits); and CS 999 Doctoral Dissertation (12 credits). The remaining 12 credits must be obtained in advanced graduate courses chosen from a list maintained by the program.

Dissertation Committee Selection

Each student must form a dissertation committee, comprising four or five individuals. Three members of the committee must be tenured or tenure-track faculty in the Computer Science Department. The fourth member must be from outside the department. The chair of the dissertation committee, who must also be the dissertation director, must be tenured or tenure-track faculty in the Volgenau School. The committee must be approved by the chair of the Computer Science Department and the associate dean for graduate studies of the Volgenau School.

Comprehensive Exam

Students must pass an oral comprehensive exam, in which they demonstrate depth of knowledge in their intended area of research, and ability to perform original research in that area. The scope of the oral exam is defined by a reading list prepared by the student and the dissertation director. The list should include research papers and textbooks that adequately cover the basic tools used in the research area, the fundamentals of the research area, and state-of-the-art knowledge in the specific focus of research. The reading list must be accompanied by a one-page description of the intended research. This document must be approved by the dissertation committee prior to the exam and becomes part of the student’s record. The duration of the oral exam is typically two hours. Students who fail the exam are allowed to retake it once. Failure in the second attempt results in dismissal from the program.

Dissertation Proposal

Each student must prepare a written dissertation proposal. While preparing this proposal, the student enrolls in CS 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal. The proposal must be presented to and approved by the dissertation committee. The committee determines whether the proposal has merit and can lead to significant contributions to the area and whether the student has the knowledge and skills to complete the proposed work successfully and in a timely manner. On completing this requirement successfully, the student is advanced to candidacy for the PhD degree.

Dissertation Preparation and Defense

While preparing the dissertation, the candidate enrolls in CS 999 Doctoral Dissertation. When the work is deemed complete, the dissertation is defended. The public defense is preceded by a predefense meeting in which only the candidate, the dissertation committee members, and possibly the director of the PhD in Computer Science Program (or his or her representative) are present. If the committee approves, the candidate may then schedule the final public defense. There should be at least one month between the predefense meeting and the defense, and the defense must be announced at least two weeks in advance. The dissertation must be made available to the committee at least two weeks in advance of the defense. The entire dissertation committee must be present at the defense, unless an exception is approved by the director of the PhD in Computer Science Program in advance of the defense. The dissertation must make significant contributions to its area and be publishable in refereed journals or conferences. If the candidate defends the dissertation successfully, the dissertation committee recommends that the final form of the dissertation be completed under the supervision of the dissertation director and the graduate faculty of Mason accept the candidate for the PhD degree. If the candidate fails to defend the dissertation, the candidate may request a second defense, following the same procedures as for the initial defense. There is no time limit for this request, other than general time limits for the doctoral degree, and an additional predefense is not required. A candidate who fails a second attempt to defend the dissertation is dismissed from the program.

PhD Study in Information Technology with CS Concentrations

Doctoral study in information systems, software engineering, and information security is available through the PhD in Information Technology Program, which offers advanced courses in these disciplines. The doctoral program allows students to take a broad range of courses and research options. Students can specialize in various areas including information systems, software engineering, and information security.

Information Technology, PhD

PHD-INFT

Concentration in Information Security and Assurance (ISA)

Students who pursue a concentration in this doctoral program will have the concentration noted on their transcript. The degree conferred on a graduating student is the PhD in information technology with concentration in information security. Students may also pursue such doctoral studies without designating a concentration.

Requirements

Students seeking this concentration must satisfy all requirements for the PhD in information technology. In addition, the following requirements must be met.

Plan of Study

All decisions concerning the student’s course requirements and plan of study must be approved by the advisor or director, with the consent of Computer Science doctoral coordinator.

Doctoral Supervisory Committee

The dissertation director must be a faculty member of the Volgenau School. The composition of the doctoral supervisory committee is to be approved by the Computer Science doctoral coordinator and department chair, and the Volgenau School associate dean for research and graduate studies. Permission for the comprehensive exam and dissertation defense is requested from the Volgenau School associate dean on the basis of a written request and plan that has been approved by the supervisory committee and the Computer Science doctoral coordinator.

For information regarding qualifying exams and emphasis areas, please consult the department web site.

Information Technology, PhD

PHD-INFT

Concentration in Information Systems (ISYS)

Students who pursue a concentration in this doctoral program will have the concentration noted on their transcript. The degree conferred on a graduating student is the PhD in information technology with concentration in information systems. Students may also pursue such doctoral studies without designating a concentration.

Requirements

Students seeking this concentration must satisfy all the requirements for the PhD in information technology. In addition, the following requirements must be met.

Plan of Study

All decisions concerning the student’s course requirements and plan of study must be approved by the advisor or director, with the consent of the Computer Science doctoral coordinator.

Doctoral Supervisory Committee

The dissertation director must be a Computer Science faculty member. The composition of the doctoral supervisory committee must be approved by the Computer Science doctoral coordinator, the Computer Science chair, and the Volgenau School associate dean for research and graduate studies. Permission for the comprehensive exam and the dissertation defense is requested from the Volgenau School associate dean on the basis of a written request and plan approved by the supervisory committee and the Computer Science doctoral coordinator.

For information regarding qualifying exams and emphasis areas, please consult the department web site.

Information Technology, PhD

PHD-INFT

Concentration in Software Engineering (SWE)

Students who pursue a concentration in this doctoral program will have the concentration noted on their transcript. The degree conferred on a graduating student is the PhD in information technology with concentration in software engineering. Students may also pursue such doctoral studies without designating a concentration.

Requirements

Students seeking this concentration must satisfy all requirements for the PhD in information technology. In addition, the following requirements must be met.

Plan of Study

All decisions concerning the student’s course requirements and plan of study must be approved by the advisor or director, with the consent of the Computer Science doctoral coordinator.

Doctoral Supervisory Committee

The dissertation director must be a faculty member of the Computer Science Department. The composition of the doctoral supervisory committee is to be approved by the Computer Science doctoral coordinator, the Computer Science chair, and the Volgenau School associate dean for research and graduate studies. Permission for the comprehensive exam and dissertation defense is requested from the Volgenau School associate dean on the basis of a written request and plan that has been approved by the supervisory committee and the Computer Science doctoral coordinator.

For information regarding qualifying exams and emphasis areas, please consult the department web site.