2024-2025

Computer Science, Master of Science

School of Informatics, Computing and Cyber Systems

College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences

Computer scientists develop complex software and computer systems that are central to contemporary science, engineering, industry, and business. The MS in Computer Science enables students to either enter the computer science workforce or continue on to a doctoral program of study.
 
Individual and team-based assignments will enable students to build mastery of important computer science skills and their practical applications in areas that include computer networks, computer graphics and visualization, high-performance computing, cybersecurity, machine learning and data science, software engineering, software design and architecture, and software validation and verification. In addition, you will have the opportunity to engage in critical application areas of computer science in areas that include biology, ecology, and astronomy.
 
The non-thesis option of this program allows students to complete their degree through coursework, while the thesis option is focused on engagement with research projects under the mentorship of a faculty member and culminating in the preparation and defense of a thesis.
 
The program is strengthened through broad collaborations with a variety of other academic programs, government agencies, and private research organizations, including the departments of Biological Sciences and Astronomy and Planetary Science, Center for Bioengineering Innovation, Pathogen and Microbiome Institute, Center for Ecosystem Science and Society, Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, and U.S. Geological Survey.
 

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master's degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.

    Read the full policy here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 30
Additional Admission Requirements

Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

Thesis Thesis may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Oral Defense Oral Defense may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Research Individualized research may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study
Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Plan Optional

Purpose Statement

This MS in Computer Science will prepare you to either enter the computer science workforce or continue on to a doctoral program of study, building core skills that are widely applicable to many areas of science, engineering, industry, business, and research.

This degree is flexible and allows students to develop a customized program of study that is highly aligned with their professional or research interests. Available coursework allows students to study in many areas of computer science, including computer networking, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, and software architecture and testing. While all students will be expected to contribute to a substantive computer science development or research project under the mentorship of a faculty member during the course of their study, thesis option students will have additional opportunities to engage in computer science research and scholarship and prepare a thesis.

This program is designed for students with strong preparation in programming and computer science, gained through successful completion of an undergraduate computer science program or other professional experience. The non-thesis option of the program is designed for students seeking professional preparation, while the thesis option is particularly appropriate for students for considering further graduate study in a doctoral program.

As a graduate, you will be prepared to contribute in a wide variety of core computer science areas in both academia or professional practice, including computer networks, computer graphics and visualization, high-performance computing, cybersecurity, machine learning and data science, software engineering, software design and architecture, and software validation and verification. In addition, you will have the opportunity to engage in critical application areas of computer science in areas that include biology, ecology, and astronomy.

Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates of this program will demonstrate the following competencies and program learning outcomes:

  • Identify, explain, and synthesize fundamental concepts of computer science, including computer networking, cybersecurity, high-performance computing, and software engineering.
  • Analyze and critically distill scientific literature to identify computer science theories and development and research methods appropriate to relevant science and engineering problems and research areas.
  • Apply computer science theories and development and research methods to formulate, develop, and assess computer system solutions to relevant science and engineering problems and research areas.
  • Compose and engage in highly effective written and oral communication in computer science areas.

Graduate Admission Information
  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.


    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

    • A Bachelor degree in Computer Science or a related field.
    • Personal statement outlining the prospective student's professional goals in computer science and an indication of interest in either the thesis of non-thesis option.
    • Two letters of recommendation from recommenders who are familiar with the prospective student's computer science qualifications.
    • Computer Science Milestone. Students must pass the Initial Skills Inventory Exam, or complete CS 500 and CS 501 before enrolling in graduate-level CS courses. See the department website for details.
Master's Requirements
  • This Master’s degree requires 30 units distributed as follows:

    • Computer Science Coursework: 3 units
    • Non-Thesis or Thesis Option: 27 units
      • Non-Thesis Option
      • Thesis Option
      • Thesis Option with Research


    Take the following 30 units:

  • Computer Science Coursework (3 units)

     

  • Non-Thesis or Thesis Option - Select one (27 units)

    • Non-Thesis Option (27 units)

      • Computer Science Electives (27 units)
        • Graduate-level coursework with at least 15 of the units in CS courses except CS 500 AND CS 501.
        • Students may use a maximum of two courses, up to 6 units, of CS prefixed 400-level courses to satisfy a portion of the elective requirements.
    • Students selecting a non-thesis/coursework/track option must complete 24 units of formal letter-graded coursework.

    • Students are responsible for ensuring that they meet all course prerequisites.

    • Thesis Options (27 units)

      • Under the direction of a computer science research advisor select from the following thesis options.
      • Computer Science Electives (15 units)
        • Graduate-level coursework with at least 9 of the 15 units in CS courses except CS 500 AND CS 501.


      Students selecting the thesis option are required to complete 18 units of formal letter-graded course work. No 400-level coursework may apply toward this requirement.

      Thesis option students are responsible for selecting a research advisor who will act as their thesis committee chair as well as other members of their thesis committee before completing 9 units of coursework in the degree program.

    • Students are responsible for ensuring that they meet all course prerequisites.

  • Students enrolled in this plan may not enroll in or pursue the following due to the number of overlapping units:

Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Program
    • This program is available as an Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Plan wherein a student may start a master's degree while simultaneously completing their bachelor's degree.

    • Students enrolled at the Flagstaff campus for both undergraduate and graduate programs are eligible to complete the Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering and start a Master of Science in Computer Science - Non-thesis at NAU.

      OR

      Students enrolled at the Flagstaff campus for both undergraduate and graduate programs are eligible to complete the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and start a Master of Science in Computer Science - Non-thesis at NAU.

      OR

      Students enrolled at the Flagstaff campus for both undergraduate and graduate programs are eligible to complete the Bachelor of Science in Immersive Media and Games and start a Master of Science in Computer Science - Non-thesis at NAU.

      OR

      Students enrolled at the Flagstaff campus for both undergraduate and graduate programs are eligible to complete the Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering and start a Master of Science in Computer Science - Non-thesis at NAU.

    • Students must apply to the master's program by the graduate program's application deadline, meet all admissions requirements listed in the policy Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Programs, as well as the admissions requirements for the specified master's plan to be considered for admission. Admission to programs is competitive and qualified applicants may be denied because of limits on the number of students admitted each year.

      Be sure to speak with the Master's Program Director/Coordinator regarding your interest in the accelerated plan.
    • Students accepted into one of the Accelerated Programs should complete the appropriate requirements below.

    • Master's Requirements
       

      This Master’s degree requires 30 units distributed as follows:

      • Computer Science Coursework: 3 units
      • Non-Thesis Option: 27 units


      Take the following 30 units:

    • Computer Science Coursework (3 units)

    • Non-Thesis Option (27 units)

      • Computer Science Electives (27 units)
        • 400-level CS or IMG coursework (6 units)
        • Graduate-level coursework with at least 15 of the units in CS courses except CS 500 AND CS 501. (21 units)
    • Students selecting a non-thesis/coursework/track option must complete 24 units of formal letter-graded coursework.

      Students are responsible for ensuring that they meet all course prerequisites.

    • Students enrolled in this plan may not enroll in or pursue the following due to the number of overlapping units:

  • Students in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Computer Science to Master's program complete the following requirements:
    • Master's Requirements
       

      This Master’s degree requires 30 units distributed as follows:

      • Computer Science Coursework: 3 units
      • Non-Thesis Option: 27 units


      Take the following 30 units:

    • Computer Science Coursework (3 units)

    • Non-Thesis Option (27 units)

      • Computer Science Electives (27 units)
        • Graduate-level coursework with at least 15 of the units in CS courses except CS 500 AND CS 501.
        • Students may use a maximum of two courses, up to 6 units, of CS prefixed 400-level courses to satisfy a portion of the elective requirements.
    • Students selecting a non-thesis/coursework/track option must complete 24 units of formal letter-graded coursework.

    • Students are responsible for ensuring that they meet all course prerequisites.

    • Students enrolled in this plan may not enroll in or pursue the following due to the number of overlapping units:

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.

  • Program Fee Information
  • Program fees are established by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR). A program fee of $450 per semester has been approved for this program.