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Graduate Program

Seeking a Second Degree, after an Undergraduate Degree in a Field Other Than Computer Science

If you have an undergraduate degree in a field other than computer computer science and are thinking about a degree in computer science, in preparation for a new career, NIU’s Department of Computer Science could be what you are looking for.

Many students who are contemplating additional education assume that the best path is to get a second undergraduate degree. While this is possible, it is probably better to pursue a Master’s degree. Even if you have no background in computer science, earning a Master’s degree (as opposed to a second undergraduate degree) will prepare you for jobs that are often more interesting, command higher salaries, and usually offer a better career advancement path. Time and cost are comparable to a second undergraduate degree.

Here's a comparison of the requirements for a second undergraduate degree (B.S.) versus a Master's degree (M.S.):

B.S. Requirements
(Software Development Emphasis)
M.S. Requirements
Courses that count toward the 30-hour M.S. Degree:
  • One required course
  • Four courses from two comprehensive exam areas
  • Five additional elective courses.
12 Total CSCI Courses 10 Total CSCI Courses
Math Courses (if not completed as a part of a prior undergraduate degree):
  • Choose one:
    • STAT 301: Elementary Statistics (4)
    • STAT 350: Intro to Probability and Statistics (3)
  • Choose one sequence:
    • MATH 206: Discrete Math (3) and MATH 211: Business Calc (3)
    • MATH 206: Discrete Math (3), MATH 229: Calc I (4), and MATH 230: Calc II (4)
Math: No additional Math requirements.
12-16 Total Courses
10 Total Courses

Here is what we generally require of people with non-CS-related undergraduate degrees.

  1. Before you start taking courses at NIU, apply to the Graduate School as a Student-at-Large (SAL). This is quick and easy to do.
  2. During the semester in which you take CSCI 689, apply for admission to the department’s Master of Science program. This will require taking the GRE (just the general exam, not any special topic exam), getting some letters of recommendation, providing your undergraduate transcript, and a couple of other details. Of course, your grade in CSCI 689 will also be important factor. By this time, you will know if this field is right for you, and your record in this course will give a good indication of your ability.
  3. Once you are accepted, you will take 10 graduate-level courses just like any other grad student: 1 required course (CSCI 689), 4 courses in comprehensive exam areas, and 5 electives. You can find much more information on the program under the other Graduate Program links to the left.

It may be of interest that the M.S. program has no special mathematics requirements. Undergraduate general education math courses are sufficient for our program.

The steps above are usually followed for most students. However, every person is different, so it may be possible and appropriate in some cases to modify them. If you have questions or concerns or need further details, please contact:

Graduate Program
Prof. Ibrahim Önyüksel
Assistant Chair
Prof. Kirk Duffin
Director of Graduate Studies
Undergraduate Program
Daniel Rogness
Undergraduate Advisor