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FAQs for CIS Graduate Students

This FAQ provides answers to some of the questions frequently asked by prospective or current graduate students in the programs in Information Technology at Hood College.

The answers represent the policies and guidelines of the department at the time the document was updated. It is not intended to be a replacement for the Hood College Catalog, which is the official statement of College policies. The policies and guidelines are subject to change; revisions will be posted as soon as they go into effect.
For further information, see the Hood College Catalog.

Getting Admitted Into the Program 

Getting Started 

Meeting Requirements 

Program Planning 

Academic Policies and Procedures 

What academic standards must I meet to be admitted? 

To be considered for admission to graduate study at Hood College, you must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average on completed undergraduate work.

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Must I have an undergraduate degree in computer science? 

No, you do not need to have an undergraduate degree in computer science to enroll in the CIS program. However a certain amount of fundamental knowledge is required before you can enroll in most courses. The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science offers foundation courses at the graduate level through which you can acquire this knowledge. As part of the acceptance process, one of the Program Directors in the department will review your academic records and may confer with you directly to determine which, if any, foundation courses you must complete as part of your studies.

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What mathematics background do I need? 

You will need a working knowledge of discrete mathematics to perform well in the program. Additional courses in mathematics, such as calculus, linear algebra, or probability and statistics, are not required but will help you be successful in the program.

If your mathematics background is limited, you must complete the foundation course MATH 505, Discrete Mathematics, before you can take additional courses in the program.

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What should I do if I have no programming experience? 

If you have had no prior programming experience, you may find the first foundation courses very challenging. You should take CSCI 501, Introduction to Software Development. This is a 1-credit course that introduces software engineering principles and programming in a current object-oriented programming language.

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Do I need to take the GRE? 

No, the GRE is not required for admission to the master’s degree program in Information Technology.

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My native language is not English. Do I need to take the TOEFL test? Will I need to take an ESL Course? 

Yes, you must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). As an international student, you may not register for classes until an official report of the TOEFL score is on file in the Graduate School Office. You must receive a minimum TOEFL score of 231 computer-based scale (575 former scale), See the Graduate School section of the Hood College Catalog for more information about the required scores.

If you score between 173 and 231 on the computer-based TOEFL examination (500 to 575 on the former scale), you may be admitted to the Graduate School but will be required to take an ESL course.

If your TOEFL scores are satisfactory but your instructors report that your performance in the program is unsatisfactory because of language difficulties, you may be required to study ESL in addition to your courses in the program.

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What program requirements must I meet? 

Depending upon your background, you may be required to complete a series of foundation courses. The foundation courses provide essential knowledge, which would normally be acquired at the undergraduate level before beginning graduate study. Most other courses in the department require one or more of these courses as a prerequisite. If you can provide evidence of a working knowledge of the topics and skills addressed in the foundation courses, you may be able to exempt some or all of these foundation courses. This evidence is generally provided through transcripts of completed courses at an accredited institution of higher education.

Beyond the foundation courses, there are a set of core program requirements for each track in the Master of Science in Information Technology Program. The two tracks are Computer Science and Information Technology. Each track requires that you complete a core of six courses. You must also complete 12 credits of upper-level elective work.

For more information, see the complete description of program requirements in the current college catalog.

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The requirements have changed since I entered. Can I continue to follow my original program? 

Yes, you may continue to follow the program requirements specified in the official Hood College Catalog for the academic year in which you matriculated (began your program). However you also have the option of changing to the new requirements if you prefer.

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How many credits will I have to take to complete the program? 

You must complete 30 credits beyond the foundation level, and meet the core, elective, and grade requirements of the program. If you are required to take some of the foundation courses, the credits earned in these foundation courses do not count toward the completion of the program.

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How long will it take me to complete a degree? 

It takes a typical part-time student three to five years of study to complete the program. You can complete the degree in as little as a year and a half if you are exempted from the foundation courses and study on a full-time basis, including summer study. The maximum amount of time available for completing the degree program is seven years. This could occur if you are required to take all of the foundation courses and complete only one course each semester.

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Can I enroll as a full-time student? 

Yes, it is possible to study full-time in the program beyond the foundation course level. The prerequisite structure of the foundation courses makes it difficult to carry a full load initially. Because the program is designed to accommodate students who are working full-time and studying on a part-time basis in the evenings, your course selection may be limited.

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What is the maximum time I have to complete the program? 

You must complete all of your degree requirements within seven years from the time you take your first course. The foundation courses are considered in this calculation.

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How can I find out if I am eligible to exempt foundation courses? 

You may be able to be exempted from one or more foundation courses if you have satisfactorily completed appropriate undergraduate course-work or if you can demonstrate that you have acquired the knowledge and skills in your work. As part of the acceptance process, one of the Program Directors in the department will review your academic records and may confer with you directly to determine which, if any, foundation courses you must complete as part of your studies. The Program Directors will look for evidence of a working knowledge of the topics and skills addressed in the foundation courses. This evidence is generally provided through transcripts of completed courses at an accredited institution of higher education. Course descriptions, course syllabi, or other information may also be helpful in the decision process.

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Is it possible to exempt a required core course? 

It is possible to exempt a required core course if you have successfully completed a comparable course at the undergraduate level. In this case, you must take an additional elective course in your program.

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Can I get credit for courses taken at another college or university? 

If you wish to have credit for prior graduate course work taken at another accredited institution transferred toward the Hood College degree, you must submit a formal written request. (See page 277 of the 2001-2002 Hood College Catalog for details.)

Under certain circumstances, transfer credit for work completed elsewhere after enrollment at Hood College may be accepted. This transfer credit will not be allowed for work equivalent to courses offered at Hood College. Requests for transfer of an elective course must be submitted in writing and approved by the Department. In all cases, approval must be granted in writing before you enroll in the course.

In all cases the institution from which you wish to transfer credit must be accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting body.

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How often are courses offered? 

Most foundation courses are offered each semester. Required core courses are offered at least once each academic year. Most elective courses are offered once every year. The Hood College Catalog provides the frequency and the term in which the course is offered for every core course and for many of the elective courses. The curriculum page on the department website also provides detailed information about courses.

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How many courses should I take each term? 

Graduate study requires you to spend time outside of class as well as in class. It is important that you allow sufficient time for study, homework, and projects. The usual rough estimate of out-of-class time required for an advanced undergraduate or graduate-level course is three hours or more per week of reading, homework, and other out-of-class work for each credit. Therefore, you should plan to spend at least 10-12 hours per week of outside-of-class time for each course during a regular semester. If you read slowly, or have other difficulties with studying, you may need more time.

When planning your schedule, take into account the time each course will require, as well as personal and employment demands on your time. You are responsible for completing your work on time in all your courses.

No student may enroll in more than 9 credits of graduate course work in a semester without explicit Department approval. Requests to take more than 9 credits of graduate course work in a semester must be submitted in writing. The request is considered by the entire Department at a regularly scheduled Department meeting.

In no case may a student take more than 9 credits in his or her first semester as a graduate student at Hood.

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What are the objectives of the foundation courses? What type of material is covered in each of the foundation courses? 

The foundation courses are designed to provide a common base upon which more advanced courses build. Students are required to take each of the four foundation courses unless exempted from one or more by the department. Typically, exemption is given based upon an undergraduate transcript. Regardless of whether a student receives an exemption for a course, students are required to know the foundation course material in subsequent courses. This is true even if an exemption is based upon a student having taken a course that turns out to be weaker than the corresponding Hood course.

Students seeking exemptions should carefully look at the following expectations for each of the courses, and are advised not to seek an exemption for a course containing material that the student is not comfortable with.

  • CSCI 503: basic syntax, data types, control structures, classes, objects, testing.
  • CSCI 504: implementation of lists, queues, stacks, trees, and graphs. Sorting, searching, hashing, analysis of algorithm efficiency. Container classes. Recursion.
  • CSCI 508: machine-level representation of data, basic performance measures, virtual machines, assembly language, computer organization, cache memory, virtual memory, instruction pipelines, performance/cost tradeoffs associated with hardware design, basic I/O architecture.
  • MATH 505: logic, boolean algebra, finite-state machines, sets, relations, functions, matrices, induction, combinatorics, graphs, trees, recursion.

Additionally, in post-foundation courses, instructors assume that each student has a working knowledge of either C++ or Java. Exemptions are given for the material listed above, but students not comfortable with either C++ or Java should consider taking a course such as 503 or 504 to gain proficiency.

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Why do I have to take prerequisite courses? 

Course prerequisites specify essential preparatory knowledge. Instructors and advisors will insure that all students enrolled in a course have the necessary prerequisites. You should not seek to take a course for which you do not have the prerequisites.

“Permission of the instructor„ may be granted as an alternate prerequisite if the instructor interviews you and determines that you have the necessary knowledge. Permission is not automatic. If it is determined that you enrolled in acourse without completing the required prerequisites or obtaining the permission of the instructor, you will be withdrawn from the course and will forfeit any tuition refund.

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What are the minimum grade requirements for the foundation courses? 

A minimum grade of B- must be earned in a foundation course before it can be used as a prerequisite for another course. If you receive less than a B-, you must retake the course before you can take any course that requires it as a prerequisite. The foundation courses are prerequisites for the core courses, so you must receive a minimum grade of B- in each foundation course.

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What are the minimum grade requirements for any course in the program? 

You must earn a grade of at least B- in each of the course that is counted toward the degree. You must also maintain a minimum cumulative grade average of 3.0 in all the courses you take in the Graduate program. Finally, no course for which a grade lower than B- is earned can be used as a prerequisite for another course.

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What are my options if I receive a grade below the minimum grade requirements in a course? 

If you receive a grade below the minimum required in a prerequisite course, you must retake the course. If you receive a grade below the minimum required in an elective course, you can take another course to present towards your degree or you may retake the course in which you received the low grade. The original grade will still be counted in your cumulative grade point average.

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How do I get advice about scheduling and program requirements? Who are the current CIS academic advisors? 

In order to make academic advising convenient and accessible to you, a group of graduate faculty serve as academic advisors for all graduate students. You will not be assigned to one particular faculty advisor. If you need a signature, or information, or advice, you may see any faculty member on the Information Technology Advising team.

Click here for the faculty members that are available to answer questions.

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What is the Degree Candidacy Form? 

The Master’s Degree Candidacy Program Form is your plan for completing the requirements for the degree. After you have completed 12 graduate credits beyond the foundation courses in your program with a cumulative average of B (3.0) or higher you must meet with a CIS academic advisor to review your program plans and complete the Degree Candidacy Form. The Graduate School Office will mail the form to you at the appropriate time. You must obtain signatures of the advisor and program director before the form is submitted to the Graduate School Office for approval by the Dean. Once the Degree Candidacy Form is fully approved, you will receive a copy for your records.

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What happens if I change my mind after completing the Degree Candidacy Form? 

If you need to change the elective courses that you have projected in your approved plan, you can change them with the approval of an advisor, the department chair or program director, and the Dean of the Graduate School. You can obtain forms for changing the Degree Candidacy Form from the Graduate School Office.

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What courses can I use as electives in the Computer Science track? 

Six of your twelve elective credits, two courses, must be taken from the following list of recognized electives for the Computer Science track:

  • CSCI 528 Artificial Intelligence and Expert Systems
  • CSCI 530 Applied Database Concepts
  • CSCI 535 Object-Oriented Programming
  • CSCI 550 Digital Logic and Switching Theory
  • CSCI 557 UNIX System Programming
  • CSCI 561 Computer Architecture
  • CSCI 565 Database System Concepts
  • CSCI 566 Parallel Computing
  • CSCI 583 WWW Programming
  • Check with the Program Director regarding individual Special Topics courses

The other six credits may be taken as thesis, software engineering project, fieldwork project, independent study, or upper level courses selected with the approval of a faculty advisor.

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What courses can I use as electives in the Information Technology track?  

Six of your twelve elective credits, two courses, must be taken from the following list of recognized electives for the Information Technology track:

  • CSCI 533 Managing Technical Project Teams
  • CSCI 540 Human-Computer Interaction
  • CSCI 549 Applied Statistics for Quality and Productivity
  • CSCI 570 Seminar
  • CSCI 581 Introduction to website Design
  • CSCI 583 WWW Programming
  • Check with the Program Director about individual Special Topics courses

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What are the advantages of completing a thesis or a fieldwork project in lieu of completing 30 credits of course work? 

The thesis enables the student to perform in-depth research in a particular area of interest. Students who choose to follow the thesis option have a strong interest in a particular area of computer science or information technology. While the courses in the curriculum thoroughly address most areas, the need for comprehensiveness prevents in-depth exploration of all potential areas of interest. The thesis provides the student with the opportunity to perform this type of in-depth exploration. The thesis option is also recommended for studentswho are considering continuing their studies at the doctorate level. In this instance, the thesis provides the student with be opportunity to begin performing research that can then provide a basis for their doctoral research or evidence of ability to perform research.

The Software Engineering Project provides students with the opportunity to apply their software analysis and development skills to a specific software development project. This enables the student to demonstrate his/her abilities as a developer in a structured setting. The student can then use the completed project as a concrete example of his/her software engineering skills. The Software Engineering Project is only available to students in the Computer Science track.

The Fieldwork Project provides students with the opportunity to apply their computer science and information technology skills to a work project. Through the process of gaining knowledge in the Information Technology discipline, the student often recognizes opportunities to apply this knowledge in their workplace. The fieldwork project must incorporate specific learning objectives, clear milestones, and structured deliverables in order to be considered acceptable for graduate credit. The fieldwork project is a culminating activity and therefore should follow all necessary work to assure adequate content and methodology.

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What guidelines must I follow for Thesis, Software Engineering Project and Field Work Projects? 

The detailed guidelines for Software Engineering Project are available online.

A detailed statement of regulations and guidelines concerning the master’s thesis is available from the Graduate School Office and should be consulted before a student enrolls for Master’s Thesis Preparation.

Guidelines for the Fieldwork Project are provided by the project advisor and should follow the basic procedure established for the master’s thesis.

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What Standards of Academic Conduct does the Graduate School expect of me? 

Standards of Academic Honesty All Hood College graduate students are expected to comply with the following rules of academic conduct. At the time of admission to graduate study, each student must sign a statement indicating his or her understanding of these regulations.

Examinations, Tests, and Quizzes. During examinations, tests, quizzes, comprehensive examinations, or other classroom work, no student shall give or receive aid in any way or form not authorized by the instructor.

Papers, Essays, Oral Presentations, and Theses. Presenting oral or written work that is not the student’s own (except as the instructor specifically approves) is dishonest. Any direct statement taken from other sources must be documented. Sources of information and of ideas or opinions not the student’s own must be clearly indicated. Instructors may prescribe limitations on the sources to be used.

Projects and Reports. Unless otherwise directed, each student must do her or his own work, experiments, drawings, and so forth, from her or his own observations. Students may work together provided that each member of the group understands the work being done, and provided that the instructor does not prohibit group work.

Violations of Academic Conduct When an instructor has evidence that a graduate student is not in compliance with these expectations, it is the obligation of the instructor to bring it to the attention of the student and to evaluate the specific work as a zero. That zero is to be calculated into the final course grade. Students may appeal the action of the instructor by written petition to the Graduate Council through the Dean of the Graduate School. The Graduate Council will appoint an ad hoc Committee on Academic Conduct that will investigate the appeal and make a recommendation to the Graduate Council regarding its disposition. The final decision will rest with the Graduate Council.