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Northwest Missouri State University


Frequently Asked Questions

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For international students:

I have received my visa -- what next? This document is prepared by the International/Intercultural (IIC) Office. It provides much useful information regarding the next steps after receiving your visa. For more information contact Connie Murphy and the International/Intercultural Office directly (iic@nwmissouri.edu or mailto:iic@nwmissouri.edu).

On my I-20, the major is listed as "Computer Systems Analyst" or "Computer System Analysis" instead of "Applied Computer Science." Is this okay?

The name on the I-20 must match a SEVIS code. SEVIS codes may not exactly match the name of a program. This is common and will not cause a problem in your visa interview.

The choice of Computer System Analyst was the closest SEVIS description for the Applied Computer Science program. Here is the description of the Computer System Analysis/Analyst CIP code:

A program that prepares individuals to apply programming and systems analysis principles to the selection, implementation, and troubleshooting of customized computer and software installations across the life cycle. Includes instruction in computer hardware and software; compilation, composition, execution, and operating systems; low- and high-level languages and language programming; programming and debugging techniques; installation and maintenance testing and documentation; process and data flow analysis; user needs analysis and documentation; cost-benefit analysis; and specification design.

Here is the description for the Computer Science CIP code.

A general program that focuses on computers, computing problems and solutions, and the design of computer systems and user interfaces from a scientific perspective. Includes instruction in the principles of computational science, and computing theory; computer hardware design; computer development and programming; and applications to a variety of end-use situations.

While similar, the Computer Science description is more theoretical. Our program is APPLIED Computer Science, so we chose the closest CIP code that matched the objectives of the program.

This SEVIS code now appears on all I-20s for the MS-Applied Computer Science program at Northwest, and it has not caused any problem in the visa interviews. If you are concerned, print this web page and take it to the interview with you.

Do I have to purchase health insurance in the United States? What vaccines do I need to have before I arrive?

Students must purchase health insurance at Northwest. For 2013-2014, the annual cost is $960. 

For all students, both international and non-international:

How does the Master of Science in Applied Computer Science differ from programs in Computer Science?

The MS in Applied Computer Science at Northwest Missouri State University differs from other programs in computer science in some significant ways:

The focus of this program is to prepare students to enter a very competitive job market by increasing their skills in high-demand areas and emerging technologies. Many master's programs in computer science have a more theoretical basis because the aim of the program is to prepare students to go on for more graduate work at the Ph.D. level. Our program covers theoretical concepts, but students also gain hands-on experience and have strong technical skills when they graduate from the program.

Our program requirements include six credit hours of course work (two courses) that look at information technology issues from a business perspective. In many computer science programs there is no coverage of business issues.

In place of the thesis requirement required by many programs, our program requires a year-long, six-credit hour project that provides students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge to a software project.

The primary goals of this program are to produce graduates that

  • have a high degree of competence in areas of high-demand and emerging technologies
  • have good project management skills and will understand fundamental business concepts, as related specifically to information technology
  • have experience in design and implementation of a large project
  • know how to work in teams
  • have good written communication and presentation skills

To ensure that our program meets these goals, we get regular feedback from potential employers. Feedback for this program has been very positive with employers confirming that we have the right mix of theory and practice. They have been particularly positive about the inclusion of the two business-related courses because they frequently encounter problems with "techies" being unable to communicate with others in the organization.

What work opportunities are available? Can I get a graduate assistantship?

See Financial Assistance and Employment Opportunities for details

What is the typical class size?

Class sizes are generally small, so you can get individual attention from the instructor. Average class size is approximately 27 students. If we get an unexpectedly large number of students joining the program, then class sizes may be slightly larger than the figures indicated here. In some cases, we have larger sections (40-45 students) that meet once a week; for the second meeting of the week, the class is split into two smaller sections.

Do I need to bring a laptop with me?

No, you do not need to bring a laptop with you. All full-time students are provided a laptop by the university.

Please explain the credit hour system used.

Each required course in the major is three credit hours. This means the class meets for approximately three hours per week. You are expected to work outside of class also. Undergraduates take about 15 credit hours per trimester, but the normal load for a graduate student is nine credit hours (three courses) per trimester. It is possible to take twelve credit hours (four courses) as a graduate student, but you should talk with your advisor before doing this. During the trimesters that you are enrolled in Directed Graduate Project and are taking comprehensive exams, it is especially important that you do not enroll in an excessive number of hours.

How are grades determined?

When you begin a course, the instructor will provide a syllabus for the course which, among other things, describes the grading criteria for the course. This can vary from course to course, but generally the grading criteria will include exams, quizzes, projects, and assignments. The instructor will also include a grading scale to show you how final grades are determined. For most instructors, each item (exam, quiz, project, etc) is assigned a point value. At the end of the term you must have a certain percentage of the total point values for an A, a certain percentage for a B, and so forth.

What kind of research activities are the faculty involved in?

Note that we do not offer a doctoral program at Northwest Missouri State University, and therefore research is limited. The highest degree we offer in computer science is the Master of Science in Applied Computer Science. The primary purpose of the program is to prepare students to succeed in a very competitive job market, so the focus of the program is different from what you find in programs designed to lead to a doctoral degree.

Our faculty is very active professionally. Faculty members present papers regularly at professional meetings and attend conferences and seminars in order to stay up on current technologies. Special areas of interest include artificial intelligence, database systems, computer networks, web services, human-computer interaction, component-based development, and programming languages. For more specific details about individual faculty members, see faculty page.

My admission letter says that I need to take 44-356 CCNA Network Fundamentals. Can you tell me more about this course?

44-356 CCNA Network Fundamentals is an upper-division undergraduate course that covers theoretical networking concepts as well as providing hands-on experience. Students entering the MS program who do not have an undergraduate course in computer networks must complete this course before they can enroll in 44-555 Network Security, which is required for the MS program.

My admission letter says that I need to take 44-460 Database Systems. Can you tell me more about this course?

44-460 Database Systems is a senior level course, emphasizing design concepts and ER modeling. In addition, SQL is covered extensively. Students who enter the MS program and do not have an undergraduate course in database systems must take 44-460 before they can enroll in 44-560 Advanced Topics in Database Systems.

How can I pay my fees?

The Cashiering Office will accept cash, credit card or travelers checks. For new students registering during the general registration period in the week prior to classes beginning, one fourth of tuition is due on the day they enroll. The remaining payments are scheduled throughout the trimester.

Checks should be made out to Northwest Missouri State University

Can you give an estimate of the total expenses for the first year?

This information is an approximation only. Fees are based on the best information currently available Fall 2013.

To determine tuition fees, go to Graduate Fee Calculator. With a normal load, a graduate student will take 9 credit hours per trimester. If you have deficiencies, you may take up to 12 credit hours per trimester. The more credit hours you take, the higher the tuition costs.

When using the Graduate Fee Calculator, you must select out-of-state for your first semester fees. However, some reduction of fees may be possible after the first semester for qualifying students. See financial assistance for details.

International students must purchase health insurance if they do not have their own health insurance. For the cost of health insurance, see estimated cost for international students. Note that the total cost on this page includes estimates for personal expenses and on-campus living expenses. These costs may be different if you choose to live off-campus.

How can I arrange for housing? Should I live off-campus or on-campus?

On-campus housing is available. Information about on-campus housing was included in your I-20 packet. Most graduate students live off-campus. Popular apartments include:

  • Horizons West, 660.582.5211 (adjacent to campus)
  • Village O, 660.582.7725 (about 1 or 1-1/2 miles from campus)
  • Northridge, 660.582.3927 (adjacent to campus)

What should one know about Northwest Missouri State University and how is it different from other institutions?

we offer a practical program that provides you with the skills you need to find employment when you graduate; we believe you learn by doing, so we have a hands-on approach to our classes

  • we have one of the safest campuses in the United States
  • you will have lots of personal attention from the faculty
  • Northwest has low tuition, relative to most other schools
  • an out-of-state tuition waiver is available after your first semester if you make a 3.3 grade-point-average or better – this saves you approximately 40% of the cost of tuition – a big savings!
  • we have a beautiful campus, with about 1300 trees and 125 different species (we are the Missouri State Arboretum)
  • we also provide good scholarships. See financial assistance for details.

Northwest’s niche is to provide first-rate, high-quality bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. The quality of these programs is evidenced by our large enrollment in the MS-ACS program and the success our graduates have in obtaining jobs; at the bachelor’s level, our department just received a grant in excess of $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to support recruitment and retention of undergraduates in Computer Science through scholarships and an extensive mentoring program.  This kind of recognition speaks well to the quality of our programs at Northwest.

If you have  more questions about our program, visit the program website at http://www.nwmissouri.edu/mathcsis/programs/graduate/acs.htm. Look under the FAQs button to see how the MS-ACS program is different from other programs.  Look under http://www.nwmissouri.edu/mathcsis/directory/index.htm to find research interests for faculty. Note that our department is large and includes several different disciplines.  Faculty involved in the MS-ACS program include Dr. Joni Adkins, Dr. Carolyn Hardy, Dr. Gary McDonald, Dr. Merry McDonald, Dr. David Monismith, Dr. Michael Rogers, Dr. Carol Spradling, Dr. Na Li.  Look under http://www.nwmissouri.edu/mathcsis/msacs/current/projects to see the software development projects that students in the MS-ACS program work on to fulfill their Research Component requirement.

Research at northwest:

Regarding research activities, please keep in mind that Northwest is not a research institution, and the program you have selected is Applied Computer Science.  The applied nature of this program is one of the aspects that makes it unique and different from many other master's programs.  The purpose of this program is to prepare students to enter a competitive field and have a successful career.  We do, however, have a faculty that is professionally active.  Each year several of the faculty members present papers at major conferences or publish in national journals.  In addition, several faculty members are working on a $500,000 nationally-funded grant.  To see the professional interests of the faculty members, visit http://www.nwmissouri.edu/mathcsis/directory/index.htm.  Our faculty is quite large, so you might want to restrict your attention to those who are directly involved in the MS-ACS program, which would include: Dr. Merry McDonald, Dr. Gary McDonald, Dr. Michael Rogers, Dr. Carol Spradling, Dr. David Monismith, and Dr. Joni Adkins.  In the future, we will post full vitas of the faculty members so you can see the publications of individual faculty members, but those are not readily available at present.

Regarding the course curriculum please find the following link:
http://www.nwmissouri.edu/mathcsis/msacs/courses.htm

Where can I get additional information?

For more information

  • Contact the program director, Merry McDonald, at msacs@nwmissouri.edu.
  • Go to Northwest Missouri State University's Fall 2012 facebook page. This facebook page supports a discussion forum, and many students ask and answer questions about MS in Applied Computer Science. International students from any country, as well as American students, can find much useful information about the academic programs, the university, and Maryville. Check it out at NWMSU Fall 2013 . You may also refer to our blogging site at NWMSU MSACS Blog