Pennsylvania State University

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Computer Science Degrees Offered at Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University appears in our ranking of the Top 50 Master’s in Computer Science Degree Programs

Two colleges at Penn State offer degrees related to computer science. First, the College of Information Sciences and Technology has three bachelor of science programs including the Information Sciences and Technology (ISTBS) major which begins with a series of mathematics courses like Calculus, Elementary Statistics, and Language, Logic, and Discrete Mathematics. A chosen specialty determines the remaining required courses. Design and Development is one option, and this track provides instruction and practice in software and app development. The second ISTBS option, Integration and Application, combines business with technology and includes three courses focusing on project management and enterprise integration. This specialization is available on campus and completely online and teaches students to identify the needs of a business and determine software and technology solutions. The third choice in this major is People, Organizations, and Society which focuses on the ways in which social media and the ever-changing nature of technology affect society and culture overall.

Other degrees in this college include the B.S. in Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations (CYAOP) and the B.S. in Human-Centered Design and Development (HCDD). There are 24 core classes in the CYAOP curriculum covering topics like mathematics, risk analysis, programming, databases, and networking as well as criminal justice and forensics. Students can choose electives based on a concentration area like Geopolitics, Law and Policy, Economics, or Healthcare and also have the option of designing a custom concentration. There is a similar entirely online degree program, the B.S. in Security and Risk Analysis, which also prepares students to work as cybersecurity analysts or security specialists. The HCDD major is a combination of marketing and IT with a focus on web development and design. Core classes include Methods for Studying Users, Programming for the Web, and Human-Centered Design for Mobile Computing. All students complete a capstone during which they create a presentation geared toward business executives detailing a specialized web app or other new technology.

The College of Engineering offers the traditional B.S. in Computer Science which requires more math and theory courses than the information technology programs. There are 15 core classes that provide a foundation in calculus, physics, data structures, computer architecture, and programming. Students can choose the remainder of the major courses from subject areas like machine learning, cybersecurity, graphics, networking, artificial intelligence, and computer vision among others.

At the graduate level, Penn State offers both a Master of Science (M.S.) and Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Computer Science and Engineering. The main difference between these is that the M.S. has more of a research focus and typically includes a thesis, while the M.Eng. is considered a professional degree that prepares students for practical work in the industry. These graduate programs generally take at least two years to complete, but there is a one-year no-thesis M.S. option with two available tracks, one focusing on engineering and the other on computer science. A Ph.D. is also available in the field and includes extensive research, typically requiring at least four years of full-time study.

About Pennsylvania State University

In 1855, Penn State began as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania and later became a land-grant university known as the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania. Today, the school is a research and academic powerhouse with 20 campuses throughout the state. The main campus is located in University Park and is home to almost half of the nearly 100,000 students enrolled at PSU.

The university is known nationally and worldwide as a leader in many disciplines including cybersecurity, and the National Security Agency and Department of Defense have named the school as a Cyber Defense Center of Academic Excellence.

The U.S. News and World Report has ranked Penn State #20 on its Top Public Schools list and the 24th best undergraduate engineering school. The graduate computer science department is #30 out of 188 schools nationwide.

Pennsylvania State University Accreditation Details

Penn State has remained regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) since 1921. This is important because it signifies that the university continues to meet standards in seven categories including Support of the Student Experience, Educational Effectiveness Assessment, Ethics and Integrity, and Governance, Leadership, and Administration. The MSCHE recertification process consists of a repeating eight-year cycle and includes a self-study report, peer reviews, and on-site visit among other evaluations. Attending a regionally accredited school is a requirement for federal financial aid eligibility and also makes it easier to transfer credits between universities.

Pennsylvania State University Application Requirements

Undergraduate applicants can fill out either the Common Application or use the online Penn State portal and must also send complete transcripts and ACT or SAT scores along with a personal statement. While there are no published minimum GPAs or test scores, admission is competitive, especially for the University Park campus. Incoming freshmen and transfer students can be directly admitted into the College of Information Technology, but prospective computer science students need to complete between 40 and 59 Penn State credit hours with a minimum GPA of 3.0. This coursework must include seven prerequisite math, physics, and computer classes.

Graduate applicants need to submit GRE scores, a resume, statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation along with their completed online application. An undergraduate degree in computer science or a related field is also required.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Undergraduate in-state tuition at Penn State’s University Park campus is $17,416 per year for the first two years, followed by $20,780 for upper division courses with slightly lower rates at the other campuses. Out-of-state undergraduate students can plan to pay around $35,000 annually, and online tuition runs approximately $575 per credit hour or a flat rate of around $7000 for full-time study per semester. Graduate full-time study is roughly $23,000 and $38,000 yearly for Pennsylvania residents and non-residents respectively.

There are some scholarship opportunities through the university based on academic merit and achievement, and students are also encouraged to apply for private awards and grants. In addition, graduate students who earn assistantships or fellowships receive a tuition discount, bringing the total cost down to about $18,000 per year. Staff in the financial aid office at Pennsylvania State University are available year-round to answer questions about these programs and student loans.