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Graduate Program

Enterprise Computing




Enterprise Computing is the world of computing and data management in large businesses, industries,  and other organizations. While other forms of computing are used extensively in various business capacities, mainframe computers play a central role in the daily operations of most of the world’s largest corporations, including many Fortune 1000 companies. In banking, finance, health care, insurance, public utilities, government, and a multitude of other public and private enterprises, the mainframe computer continues to form the foundation of business in today’s e-business environment. From processing stock exchange transactions to managing the inventory and supply chains of some of the world's largest retailers, enterprise systems work behind the scenes to keep high volume, large-scale critical operations functioning smoothly and efficiently.  Mainframe computers have been the most stable, secure, and compatible of all computing platforms. The latest models can handle the most advanced and demanding customer workloads, yet continue to run applications that were written in the 1970s or earlier.

Skilled computer professionals with a good understanding of enterprise computing and experience with IBM System z are needed to develop enterprise system applications for multi-national organizations. Our goal in the enterprise computing area is to give students strong foundation in mainframe computing in general and IBM’s z/OS system in particular.  Mainframe teaching has been a major strength of NIU’s computer science curriculum from its very inception.  With our rigorous training in this area our graduates are happily hired by several large corporations nationwide and  have excelled in their profession.  With our offer of enterprise computing area we hope to retain and enhance this strength NIU enjoyed for many years.

Since most large organizations do use mainframes as part of their overall computing environment, this is wholly appropriate and valuable. It is predicted that in the next decade, many mainframe-related jobs will need to be filled, and NIU graduates should be positioned well for this job market.  At the same time, it is unlikely that anyone will be working exclusively with a mainframe--or exclusively with UNIX or any single platform. The goal of this area is to prepare our students to be versatile and adaptable and to have the background to thrive in the overall enterprise.


Enterprise Computing Courses

  • CSCI 640, Data Structures in Assembly Language: It is designed to provide a firm grounding in the z/OS assembler language, the native language of the z/Architecture and also to illustrate how several representative data structures are implemented at that level.
  • CSCI 565, Enterprise Application Environments: provides hands-on experience in Job Control Languages (JCL),  Utilities, file-structures, and file access methods including VSAM. The students will write programs in both COBOL and Assembler so that they are prepared to work in mainframe legacy environment as well.  In addition, a series of survey topics are also discussed to familiarize students with the nature and scope of the enterprise computing environment (multi-platform networking, scalability, distributed processing, integration of legacy applications, etc.).
  • CSCI 641, Enterprise Operating Systems: This course will present an overview of classical operating system issues and topics in the context of the z/OS operating system. Programming assignments will be in z/OS assembler, and theoretical issues will be illustrated largely but not exclusively from the z/OS system. Topics learned in CSCI 641 include z/OS hardware components, interrupts, virtual storage, IBM control block structure, IBM system macros, and multitasking.



A Master’s degree with Enterprise Computing track  is designed to prepare students for careers in industry, especially at large companies where mainframe computing is common. With 70 percent of the world’s data maintained on mainframes, learning mainframe hardware and software skills makes a student in the EC Systems very marketable in corporate America.

Sample companies hiring NIU Enterprise Computing students:

  • Allstate
  • BMC Software
  • Caterpillar
  • IBM
  • Computer Associates
  • Sears
  • Discover
  • Texas Instruments

Sample comments from companies who have hired NIU Enterprise Computing students:

"NIU students have a strong technical background that 1) allows them to be productive 'Day One' and 2) provides the foundation so that they can learn and master new technologies. Their [courses at NIU] prepare and enable them to take on substantial responsibility and not get overwhelmed by it."
Allegiance, McGraw Park, Illinois

"When we hire a Northern Illinois University computer science graduate, we know we are obtaining an individual with strong technical skills who will be able to contribute immediately to our projects."
Technology Practice Leader, Hewitt and Associates Lincolnshire, Illinois

"Andrew has proven to be the best summer intern who has worked for this department. (This is a significant compliment, because my second-best intern came from Stanford.) Andrew made several persons remark that Northern Illinois University must have an excellent computer science program."
IBM's Santa Teresa Laboratory, California