When preparing to apply for an online MCS, students often begin by asking themselves if they have the right background for this degree. In part one of this three-part “Getting an MCS” series, we will be providing in-depth answers to some of the typical questions students ask during the application process.
Can I get in?
The two components that students must consider when applying to a master’s program are their testing profile and their educational background. For ASU’s MCS degree, considering one’s testing profile is simple – the ASU MCS degree does not require the GRE to apply. Thus, the bulk of one’s time preparing to apply to the ASU MCS should be spent reviewing their educational background.
For the ASU MCS program, students often want to know if they can get an MCS without having majored in Computer Science in their undergraduate degree. While the answer to this may initially seem like no – to be in the ASU program, you must be able to demonstrate prerequisite knowledge (on official transcripts) of the topics Computer Organization and Assembly Language Programming, Data Structures and Algorithms, Operating Systems, and Principles of Programming Languages OR Introduction to Theoretical Computer Science: Principles of Programming Languages – the answer is actually yes, you can apply to the ASU MCS program if you do not have a computer science background. ASU offers three short, self-paced non-credit courses that can help aspiring MCS students without a typical CS background demonstrate the required prerequisite knowledge. Read more about these courses on the ASU website. The fact that you do not have to have studied CS in undergrad to apply is evidenced by the profiles of the MCS’s incoming classes; some of the most common job titles from admitted students are non-CS roles, like technical Product Manager and Project Manager.
Another piece of student’s educational background that they must consider when applying to the ASU MCS program is their undergraduate GPA. The ASU MCS program requires a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (3.25 recommended) in the last 60 credit hours (last two (2) years) of a four (4) year undergraduate degree. Again, this requirement should not be a barrier for any student aspiring to apply to the ASU MCS program, as the MCS program has a performance-based pathway to help students that don’t have the required GPA enter the program. If you complete all three pathway courses with a 3.0 GPA on the first attempt within 18 months, you will have demonstrated an ability to succeed in the subject matter and can apply to the degree program using this new GPA.
Getting an MCS without a background in mathematics
Students also want to know if you can get an MCS without a background in mathematics. The MCS program does require two (2) semesters of advanced math in Calculus I and Calculus II and a background course in Discrete Math, so if you did not complete those requirements in your previous education, you will need to either take the prerequisite courses at a local accredited University or enroll as a graduate non-degree seeking student at ASU to complete MAT 265 and MAT 266 online.
The answer to the question “Can I get an MCS degree without the GRE, an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, a GPA over 3.0 or prerequisite math courses” is YES! If you are willing to put the time into preparing your education to align with the ASU MCS requirements and you are excited to learn about computer science, then you are eligible to apply for the MCS degree.