MSCS team awarded $1 million NSF grant for student scholarships and development of a model for career change in computing.

The team consisting of Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (MSCS) faculty members Gary Krenz, Thomas Kaczmarek, Dennis Brylow and Marta Magiera, and William Welburn, executive director for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion at Marquette University, recently received a million-dollar award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support a 5-year project entitled COSMIC: Change Opportunity - Start Masters in Computing. The COSMIC project will develop, evaluate and report upon a curriculum model as well as provide scholarships to enable academically talented, low income students who have non-computing undergraduate degrees to cross over to work in the field of computing. Computing is widely viewed as a high demand profession - source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for employment of computer and information technology occupations, accessed June 24, 2016.

COSMIC’s curriculum model is designed to enable students without computer science degrees to merge quickly and efficiently into the MSCS Department’s career-focused Masters of Science (M.S.) in Computing degree program.  COSMIC’s NSF-funded scholarship component will provide students up to $10,000 per year to defray part of the cost of the M.S. in Computing program study.  To be eligible for NSF-funded scholarships, students must be full-time and in good academic standing, demonstrate financial need via FAFSA and hold an appropriate United States legal status (i.e., a citizen of the United States, a national of the United States as defined in section 101(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, an alien admitted as a refugee under section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, or an alien lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence).

The COSMIC curriculum model builds off a successful pilot effort in 2013 which resulted in long-term unemployed adults completing Master of Science degrees in computing.  The successful pilot began with an intensive summer course, where students without the prerequisite coursework for M.S. in Computing study began to bridge their computing knowledge gap.  The COSMIC summer program will be delivered in a similar intensive hands-on, face-to-face classroom setting.  The COSMIC project is expected to provide the nation with a novel curriculum model for attracting and training students that seek to cross over from non-computer science degrees to work in computing.

One lesson learned from our past efforts in career change curriculum is the importance of / advantages associated with working in the computing field prior to graduation.  Practical application of classroom knowledge galvanizes the understanding of technology acquired from coursework.  It also provides work experience as a qualification for employment upon graduation.  The COSMIC project seeks to partner with local employers interested in workforce development and recruiting to provide students with internships and other forms of work experience.

While the COSMIC summer program is expected to be offered in a face-to-face classroom/lab setting, once COSMIC scholars are fully merged into the M.S. in Computing program, the graduate program provides numerous online courses that enable additional scheduling flexibility.  The online aspect of the M.S. in Computing program was ranked the #20 Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs by US News and World Report in 2016. 

For more information regarding the M.S. in Computing program, please visit the Computing program’s website or contact:

Thomas Kaczmarek, PhD
Director, Master of Science in Computing
Phone: (414) 288-6734
Office: Cudahy Hall, 375

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.








Summer Research Experience

The Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science hosts a Summer Research Experience (REU) for Undergraduates. This program provides undergraduates with an intensive, faculty-mentored, summer research experience in the areas of applied mathematics, high-performance computing, statistics, ubiquitous systems and mathematics education. Learn more