March 29, 2021

In an ongoing effort to provide programs to help bolster workforce development, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has created a new computer science master’s degree program to help meet the ever-increasing demand for workers in the computing industry. The program will launch in fall 2021.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports jobs for computer and information research scientists are projected to grow 15 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations, with most positions requiring a master’s degree in computer science or a related field.

WPI’s Master of Computer Science (MCS) program is designed to accommodate students who are already professionals in the field as well as seeking to become professionals. This degree differs from the long-standing Master of Science in Computer Science program in that it does not provide options related to a research degree nor does it include a thesis option or research seminars. The new program focuses more on applied aspects of computer science providing students interested in a computing career with an alternative pathway.

“The new MCS program is another example of how WPI keeps its eye on the future needs of our country’s workforce,” says Craig Wills, professor and department head of Computer Science.  

The new program is aimed at students with a bachelor’s degree—but not necessarily in computer science—who are seeking computer science training for their professional roles but don’t plan to progress to a PhD program. The program is built on a solid foundation of six courses essential to computing professionals, blending coursework in programming, algorithms, software engineering and database management systems. This foundation prepares students for software engineering positions, such as DevOps (a combination of software development and IT operations), mobile application development, or browser-based web applications. Students can choose a focus, such as Big Data Management or Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning to deepen their expertise in these high-demand skillsets. Students will be able to take advantage of numerous elective courses based on their individual interests.

This program, for example, would be useful to an individual with an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering whose current job responsibilities increasingly involve software development.  The courses in the MCS program provide training in the latest design concepts and distributed computing principles. Students are also encouraged to work in teams and select projects with practical experience relevant to their career goals and personal development. They must also complete a capstone experience—a substantial evaluation of the student's computer science experience.

“Building on WPI’s long tradition of excellence in project work, the Computer Science Capstone Experience represents a substantive evaluation and application of coursework covered in the program,” says George Heineman, associate professor of computer science.

Applications for the new MCS program are currently being accepted.