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Computer Science

Computational Science Masters Program

student using a computer

Program Overview

Computational Science is the field of study concerned with constructing mathematical models using computers to analyze and solve scientific problems. In practical use, it is typically the application of computer simulation and other forms of computation to problems in various scientific disciplines. Computational Science has become critical to scientific leadership, economic competitiveness, and national security.

CWU offers a Master’s Program with the aim to prepare students for professional computational science careers or to pursue a doctoral degree. The computational core of the program has been created through modular and flexible inter-departmental collaboration. The program promotes the expansion and strengthening of the collaborative educational and research efforts across the College of the Sciences.

Program Description

The Computational Science Master’s Program is coordinated by a Program Director from the Computer Science Department who is responsible for working with graduate students and their direct advisors in developing individual courses of study, establishing graduate committees, and in advising graduate students. In all matters relating to university regulations, the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research is the final arbiter, though he or she consults with departmental officers in carrying out these duties.

The program is delivered at the CWU Ellensburg campus and consists of a combination of traditional courses, seminar, and research work amounting to a total of 45 credits at the 400 and 500 levels, or above. Regular attendance to research seminars offered by the various departments involved in the program is required.

At least 25 credits of the total required must be numbered 501 or above. Courses at the 400 level may be accepted for credit toward the graduate degree provided they are approved as part of the student’s official Course of Study and taken after formal admission to a master’s degree program. In such cases, graduate students are expected to perform at a high level, while completing requirements in addition to those expected of undergraduates enrolled in the course.

Students will complete 22 credits of core course work in computer science and mathematics and 5 credits of thesis/capstone project work. Additionally, students will complete at least 8 credits of elective course work in their selected area(s) of expertise.

Graduate students are considered full-time if taking at least 10 credits per quarter, and this may qualify them for financial aid. We do also accept part-time enrollment. Students need to take at least 2 credits during their last quarter before graduation. A typical break down for a student in the program would be:

  • 22 credits core courses
  • 18 credits electives, including graduate research
  • 5 credits Master's thesis/project

Students will have to complete the core course work of the program:

  • Advanced data structures and algorithms
  • High-performance computing
  • Advanced algorithms for scientific computing
  • Applied numerical methods I
  • Applied numerical methods II

Each core course will be offered once annually. Elective courses will be generally offered every other year. Students will specialize in one of the following application areas:

  • Biological and Environmental Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Geological Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Physics

Students will focus on a year-long research project with a direct advisor in their selected area of expertise. Alternatively, and with the approval of the Computational Science Master’s Program Committee, students will have the option to do work on this project with industrial partners of the program.

Students will be required to do a thesis or a capstone project at the end of the program. The two alternatives (thesis or project) mean that students may choose between a research and a professional orientation. A thesis is required for students that demonstrate their ability to conduct original, independent research. A capstone project is required in instances where the faculty and student determine that a special project, rather than a thesis, will strengthen the student’s learning experience.

The thesis/capstone project topic must be approved in its preliminary stages by the student’s graduate committee, the Master’s Program Director, and the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. The thesis/capstone project graduate committee will consist of at least three members and is chaired by the student’s advisor. Interdisciplinary membership in this committee is strongly recommended and at least one member of the committee should be from the Computer Science Department.

The catalog description can be found here.  During their first quarter of study, students are recommended to take the CS 599S professional seminar (1 credit), in order to select their specialization track.


To be considered, applicants to this graduate program must have been awarded (or about to be awarded) a 4-year bachelor’s degree. The minimum GPA is 3.25, with some flexibility.

The GRE is not required. For questions about how to enroll please read Out-of-state students should read

For questions about how to enroll as an international student, please read The minimum TOEFL for international students is 79 IBT/213 computer/550 paper which can be waived if you have received a Bachelor's degree from a US university or a university where English is the main language of instruction or the student has an IELTS of 6.5.

The target audience consists primarily of computer science graduates (i.e., graduates with a Major in computer science). We also target graduates with a Minor in computer science and a Major in one of the application domains (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, and geology).

On a case by case basis, graduates from the application domains, without a Minor in computer science, may be also accepted, if they have enough credits from the following computer related courses: CS301 Data Structures and Math 330 Discrete Mathematics (or their equivalents). These courses can also be taken as pre-requisites to entering the program.

Transfer of Credit

A maximum of 15 quarter credits completed before formal admission, including a maximum of 9 quarter credits transferred from other accredited institutions which offer graduate degrees, may be accepted. The credits must be approved as part of the official Course of Study filed in the Graduate Studies Office. Approval of transfer credit shall be made through Graduate Studies and Research only after an official Course of Study has been filed and only after official transcripts have been submitted directly to the Office of Graduate Studies. Transfer credit must be graded A or B. No credit earned more than 6 years before the date of the master's degree award may be counted as part of the degree credit requirements except as may be approved by formal action of the Dean of Graduate Studies.

For further questions regarding how to enroll, address:

Office of Graduate Studies and Research
400 E. University Way
Ellensburg, WA
(509) 963-3101

For further assistance, please feel free to contact us:

Hebeler Hall
400 E. University Way
Ellensburg, WA 98926-7520
Phone: (509) 963-1495
Fax: (509) 963-1449
E-mail: Computer Science Department.