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Systems and Computer Science

The program equips students with a comprehensive knowledge of contemporary computer science through training that combines both theory and practice.

Computer Science Students
The department of Systems and Computer Science offers a graduate certificate program in computer security, a traditional M.S. degree in computer science, an accelerated 1-year M.S. degree in computer science, and a Ph.D in computer science. The graduate programs equip students with a comprehensive knowledge of contemporary computer science through training that combines both theory and practice.

The graduate certificate program prepares professionals in computer science and related areas to assume positions in secure systems development and managing the critical information security programs in today's organizations.

The M.S. program prepares highly competent and broadly skilled practitioners. A majority of the master’s graduates work in industry, in companies ranging from small start-up operations to government labs and large research and development corporations.

The Ph.D. program prepares teachers and researchers for positions with universities, government research laboratories, and industry. Academic employment ranges from four-year colleges, where teaching is the primary focus, to positions at major research universities. The Ph.D. program is the first in the nation offered by a historically black college and university.

The Ph.D. program provides intensive preparation in the concepts and techniques related to the design, programming, and application of computing systems within a socially relevant context. The program requires students to declare a major and minor and select courses from a range of specializations. The program was designed to be interdisciplinary from its' conception, requiring each student to take courses outside of computer science.

The department offers a one-year accelerated Master of Computer Science degree program, the traditional Master of Computer Science degree program, and a Computer Security Graduate Certificate course.

The Master of Computer Science program equips students with a comprehensive knowledge of contemporary computer science through training that combines both theory and practice. The program provides intensive preparation in the concepts and techniques related to the design, programming, and application of computing systems.

The program requires the student to take a broad spectrum of courses, while simultaneously allowing for emphasis in desired areas of specialization. The Systems and Computer Science Department at Howard University offers the following computer science specializations:

  • Software Engineering
  • Computer Security
  • Algorithms and Machine Learning
  • Data communications
  • Computer systems
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Admission Requirements

Computer Science Students

Any applicant with an acceptable academic record and an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution or any foreign student with equivalent qualifications is eligible to apply for admission to the Graduate School. Admission is based on an evaluation of the academic record, test scores and letters of recommendation and the following requirements:

MS / PhD Degree Admission Requirements

  1. A bachelor's degree in computer science, information systems, mathematics, or engineering from an accredited college or university.
  2. At least one year of programming courses. Applicants should possess a working knowledge of at least two high-level programming languages. At least one of these languages should be C, C++ or Java;
  3. A course in data structures in which the student is taught the basic data structures of linked lists, stacks, queues, and trees. The student should have extensive experience in writing programs that implement algorithms for manipulating these data structures;
  4. An additional course involving machine organization. This requirement can be fulfilled by a course in operating systems, assembly language programming, computer organization, computer architecture, or similar courses;
  5. At least one course in computer science having the data structures course as a prerequisite. This requirement can be fulfilled by a course in algorithms, algorithm analysis, numerical analysis, or a similar course.
  6. One semester of operating systems;
  7. One semester of an algorithms course;
  8. Either one semester of probability and statistics or an equivalent course;
  9. One year of calculus;
  10. One semester of upper-level courses in differential equations, linear algebra, abstract algebra, or discrete mathematics. The course should have calculus as a prerequisite;
  11. A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required, and a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in major course work is required.
  12. Applicants should also satisfy all admission requirements of the

Students already enrolled in the Graduate School

  1. Good academic standing
  2. A minimum of 6 eligible credits (as determined by the Department of Systems and Computer Science)

Students not already enrolled in the Graduate School

  1. Satisfactory completion of regular degree requirements
  2. Graduate Record Examination
  3. Other specific requirements of the Department.

NOTE 

Students who do not meet all of the provisions indicated above may be admitted provisionally to the graduate program if they show promise of being able to complete the MS program within a reasonable time. Students admitted provisionally should recognize that it will take them considerably longer to obtain a graduate degree because of the need to take some of the basic courses described above. Students should also recognize that many of these courses are to be taken sequentially. Thus, a student without any programming courses may need up to two years of course work before he or she is able to begin graduate course

International Applicants

In addition to the requirements listed above you must meet the following:

  • Official transcripts, certificates and/or mark/grade sheets must be sent directly from the college or university to the Office of Graduate Recruitment and Admissions, and must show proof of degree(s) earned, courses taken and marks/grades received. Also, ALL transcripts must be evaluated by World Education Services (www.wes.org) or AACRAO (www.aacrao.org) and be forwarded to Graduate Recruitment and Admissions.
  • TOEFL Scores (Minimum computer-based score of 213 is required and only official score reports are accepted within 2 years of the test date) www.toefl.org
Degree Requirements

Computer Science Students

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

To advance to candidacy for the PhD of Computer Science degree, a student must attend the Responsible Conduct of Research Workshop, take the Expository Writing Exam, successfully past the qualifying examination and complete the 18 credit hours of core requirements listed below:

a) Each student must take the following core courses:

SYCS 570 Advanced Algorithms
SYCS 551 Advanced Software Engineering I 
SYCS 510 Computer Architecture
SYCS 572 Computability and Complexity
SYCS 680 Advanced Operating Systems
SYCS 500 Socially Relevant Computing (2 credits)
SYCS 600 Research Methods (1 credit)

b) The major must consist of at least 18 credit hours of graduate work approved by the advisor.
 

c) A minimum of 9 credit hours of courses must be taken outside of Computer Science. These course must be approved by the student’s graduate committee .

d) The minor must be approved by the Computer Science major specialization advisor. It must be a minimum of 12 credit hours.

e) Students must pass a comprehensive Exam to advance to candidacy. The exam will consist of two tests, with one test covering two of the five core areas, and the second test covering three of the five core areas. A test will contain two questions from each core area. For each core area that is tested, a student must score a minimum of 85% to obtain a high pass and a minimum of 70% to obtain a low pass. A high pass is required in at least four of the core areas on the comprehensive exam. The exam will be offered at the beginning of the Fall/Spring semesters. There is a limit of two times a student can take the exams. If a student gets an A grade in a core course he/she can place out of taking the comprehensive examination in that core area and is automatically awarded a high pass in that core area.

f) The student must select their graduate studies advisor that covers the selected major specialization. With the assistance of the graduate advisor the student can make recommendations for the remaining members of their graduate committee. At least one member must be outside of the university (external reviewer). At least one member must be in the minor area. Under normal circumstance there are 5 members of the committee. The majority of the committee must be from the Systems and computer science department.

g) The student’s proposal must be approved by the advisor before it is presented and defended to the whole committee. The proposal defense is open to the whole department. The whole committee (excluding the external reviewer) must approve the proposal before the student is approved to move forward with the dissertation. The proposal defense includes the student’s defending the ‘social relevance’ of the proposed effort.

h) Upon completion of the dissertation the student must defend their effort in a session open to the university. The dissertation must be approved by the whole committee in order to fulfill the dissertation requirement toward the PhD.

Areas of Specialization

  • Software Engineering
  • Cybersecurity
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Networks
  • Computing Systems

 

M.S. Degree Requirements

For the Master of Computer Science degree, a student must attend the Responsible Conduct of Research Workshop, attend a 1-month workshop on Research Methods, take the Expository Writing Exam, and complete at least 33 credit hours, which are to be taken as follows.

a) Each student must take the following core courses totaling 15 credits:

SYCS 570 Advanced Algorithms
SYCS 551 Advanced Software Engineering I 
SYCS 510 Computer Architecture
SYCS 572 Computability and Complexity
SYCS 680 Advanced Operating Systems

b) Each student must choose either of the following two options.

i. Thesis Option: comprised of 27-credits of courses and 6-credit hours of SYCS-699 (Master's Thesis). Students selecting the Thesis option must obtain an advisor in the Department of Systems and Computer Science. With the help of this advisor, the student must select a Thesis Committee. The majority of the committee must be faculty in the Systems and Computer Science department. The student must write a Master's thesis that satisfies the requirements of the advisor and the Graduate School. The student should note that a grade of "A" in SYCS-699 cannot be used to balance a grade of "C" in another course. The student must therefore maintain a grade point average of at least "B" in non-thesis courses in order to graduate. See the Graduate Bulletin for more information on this point and on any other factors related to graduate studies at Howard University.

ii. Project Option: comprised of 27-credits of courses, a minimum of 3-credit hours of SYCS-652 (Special Topics), 3-credit hours of Masters Project, and a written comprehensive examination. No hours from SYCS-699 (Master's Thesis) may be counted as part of the 30 hours. Students selecting the project option must obtain a project advisor in the Department of Systems and Computer Science. Students taking SYCS-652 must produce a symposium, workshop, conference, or journal article as a deliverable.

c) Each student must meet the computer science depth requirement by completing a minimum of three courses in one of the following areas of specialization.

d) Each student must meet the computer science breadth requirement by completing a minimum of one course in an area other than their depth area.

Areas of Specialization

  • Software Engineering
  • Cybersecurity
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Networks
  • Computing Systems
  • Computational Sciences

 

Students who have received a grade of B or better in a comparable senior level undergraduate course in 'Analysis of Algorithms,' with the approval of the graduate advisor may substitute another 3 credit graduate computer science course.

 

Additional Requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. Degrees

  1. Responsible Conduct of Research Workshop Requirement. Each student is required to take the Responsible Conduct of Research Workshop in the first semester of the graduate program. Attending and participating in this workshop is a requirement for all degrees offered by the Graduate School, including the Master of Computer Science. Details on this program, including registration, dates, and times can be found at the Graduate School’s web site
     
  2. Expository Writing Requirement. Each student is required to take the Expository Writing Examination in the first semester of the graduate program. Passing an Expository Writing Examination is a requirement for all degrees offered by the Graduate School, including the Master of Computer Science. Details on this program, including seminars for preparation to take the exam, examination dates, registration for the examination, and courses/workshops can be found at the Graduate School’s web site.
     
  3. Research Methods Workshop. Each student is required to attend a workshop on Research Methods (one month duration), to be conducted by the Director of Graduate Studies.
     
  4. Additional courses to be taken in Computer Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Business, or Fine Arts require the consent of the Graduate Advisor in the Department of Systems and Computer Science.
     
  5. At least eight courses must be graduate courses in the Department of Systems and Computer Science. Therefore, a maximum of two courses that are taken at other universities, or outside the Department of Systems and Computer Science may be counted toward the degree

 

Certificate Program

A student should file for admission to candidacy after 12 hours of work has been completed and this student has satisfied the GSAS writing proficiency requirement. Forms provided by the dean should be filed a semester before graduation and approved by the student's thesis committee and the Executive Committee of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Admission to Candidacy

A student should file for admission to candidacy after 12 hours of work has been completed and this student has satisfied the GSAS writing proficiency requirement. Forms provided by the dean should be filed a semester before graduation and approved by the student's thesis committee and the Executive Committee of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Residence Requirements

Students in the Ph.D. program are required to spend at least three semesters in full-time residence, two of which must be consecutive.

Caution to Prospective Students

The Board of Trustees of Howard University on September 24, 1983, adopted the following policy statement regarding applications for admission: "Applicants seeking admission to Howard University are required to submit accurate and complete credentials and accurate and complete information requested by the University. Applicants who fail to do so shall be denied admission. Enrolled students who as applicants failed to submit accurate and complete credentials or accurate and complete information on their application for admission shall be subject to dismissal when the same is made known, regardless of classification."

All credentials must be sent to:

Howard University Graduate School 
Office of Graduate Recruitment and Admissions
4th and College Streets, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20059

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