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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the difference between a professional degree and a regular MS degree?
  2. I do not have a degree in Computer Science. Can I still apply for this program?
  3. What kind of degree do ISCP graduates receive?
  4. May I apply for financial aid?
  5. Am I eligible for a graduate assistantship?
  6. Will I have to complete a thesis?
  7. Are courses developed for the ISCP degree only for students in the program?
  8. Will there be an online version of the program in the future?
  9. Can I contact a student currently enrolled in this program to ask questions?
  10. What are expected plan of study requirements of ISCP students?
  11. Can I complete an internship during the ISCP Professional Master's Program?
  12. Can I participate in OPT?
  13. Is it possible to switch to the Regular Master’s Program from the ISCP Program once I am admitted?
  14. Is it possible to extend this program beyond 1.5 years?
  15. How does the ISCP program differ from the existing Interdisciplinary Master's program in Information Security?
  16. Does the program offer a certificate in information security (eg. CISSP)?

What is the difference between a professional degree and a regular MS degree?

A professional master's degree in computer science is designed for someone seeking a more applied knowledge in the field.  The more traditional, academic master's program is aimed at students wanting more research-based, theoretical education, which also positions the student for seeking the PhD degree.  For more information, see the description of a professional degree.

The programs differ in two primary ways. First, a traditional computer science M.S. program prepares students to perform research and move on to a doctoral program, if desired.  The ISCP program is a terminal M.S. program and confers a non-thesis M.S. degree in Computer Science. The ISCP admission process evaluates an applicant on their ability to complete the rigorous M.S. curriculum, not their potential to do research.

Second, the ISCP program requires students enrolled in the program to complete two (2) foundational courses (Foundational Principles of Information Security and Introduction to Systems for Information Security) in order to prepare them for the rigorous core and focus coursework that follows.

The ISCP program is designed for IT professionals in industry or government who want to advance in technical cybersecurity and privacy positions.  Our program prepares students to grow into the role of an information security specialist, while learning foundational principles, relevant systems, and acquiring proficiency in using the cutting-edge software tools.

All applicants who apply for the ISCP program will only be considered for admission to ISCP and not the regular master's program (both thesis and non-thesis options). If you wish to complete thesis research, you should apply directly to the regular master's or Ph.D. program.

I do not have a degree in Computer Science. Can I still apply for this program?

Yes.  The program is intended to serve professionals with programming and computer science experience acquired either during their professional career or by having at least an undergraduate CS minor. The program will also be a natural progression for recent B.S. graduates in a computing major. 

What kind of degree do ISCP graduates receive?

The Department confers only one M.S. degree, the Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) degree. All ISCP and M.S. graduates receive this degree. 

May I apply for financial aid?

Direct financial support from the ISCP Professional Master's Program is not available. However, students can contact the Division of Financial Aid (DFA) to discuss federal loan programs and other lending opportunities. Students interested in financial assistance should call the DFA at (765) 494-5050, or submit a question online through the DFA’s contact form.

Am I eligible for a graduate assistantship?

Students enrolled in the ISCP Professional Master's Program in the Department of Computer Science may be self-funded, supported by corporate tuition support or external funding sources; however, they are not permitted to accept research assistantships, teaching assistantships, project assistantships, or other University appointments that grant waivers of tuition and/or academic fees anywhere on campus.

Will I have to complete a thesis?

No. This is a non-thesis program.

Are courses developed for the ISCP degree only for students in the program?

Computer Science faculty members have developed several courses specifically for the ISCP program.  These courses tend to be more applied in their approach, and less dependent on theoretical foundations of other courses in the computer science graduate curriculum.  In cases where ISCP students take courses from among the traditional, academic core of computer science graduate courses, projects in those courses may be tailored to align with the outcomes of the ISCP program.

Will there be an online version of the program in the future?

Some professional masters programs have a strong online component.  With the growing presence of online programs or the online components of programs, "online" is starting to become synonymous with the term "professional" degree in usage. The Information Security for Computing Professionals program at Purdue delivers the first two courses online in the first summer; however, the remainder of the courses are offered on campus.   Currently, the program design features regular group work within the cohort and access to departmental labs and equipment.  These features would make a transition to an online offering difficult.

Can I contact a student currently enrolled in this program to ask questions?

Interested applicants can provide us with contact information that will be passed along to one of our existing ISCP students to make contact with you.

What are expected plan of study requirements of ISCP students?

The ISCP plan of study includes 30 credits of graduate courses. Several of the courses have been designed solely for the ISCP program.  For courses listed on the plan, grades in the A range (A+, A, A-) or B range are expected, but one or two grades in the C range may be accepted if they are compensated by grades in the A range (regardless of + and -). Other grades are unacceptable. The GPA of the courses on the plan must be at least 3.0.

Can I complete an internship during the ISCP Professional Master's Program?

Yes. Students in the ISCP Professional Master's Program are able to complete an internship during the second summer of the program if the regular track is selected (not expedited).  Please note that completing an internship may delay your time to graduation.

Can I participate in OPT?

 If a student successfully finishes the program, they will be eligible for OPT after completion of the degree.

Is it possible to switch to the Regular Master’s Program from the ISCP Program once I am admitted?

A direct transfer from ISCP to regular MS or direct PhD is not possible, but students may apply to those programs just like any other outside applicant.  If students have already applied for regular MS or direct PhD and received admission to the terminal ISCP program instead, it is unlikely that they would be admitted to those programs in the future.

Is it possible to extend this program beyond 1.5 years?

The program is designed to be finished in 1 or 1.5 years.  F-1 students who are unable to meet the program completion date on the Form I-20 may request an extension from ISS if they have continually maintained status and are making normal progress towards their degree.  This extension must be approved by the department and ISS.

How does the ISCP program differ from the existing Interdisciplinary Master's program in Information Security?

The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) has been the home of an interdisciplinary graduate program since 2000.  Their program offers both Masters and PhD degrees.  The Graduate School identifier code for the CERIAS program is INSC.  The Computer Science professional masters degree is ISCP.

CERIAS interdisciplinary students take a number of computer science courses, but all graduate in a department other than Computer Science.  INSC degrees are awarded from the INSC interdisciplinary program via an associated department of record.  Those departments currently affiliated with the CERIAS interdisciplinary degree include the departments in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute (formerly the College of Technology), the Brian Lamb School of Communication, and the departments of Philosophy, and Linguistics.

The ISCP program is hosted only by the Computer Science Department, and affiliated faculty are all in Computer Science.  The program does, however, allow two elective courses from an approved list, which allows students to take courses outside of Computer Science.

Does the program offer a certificate in information security (eg. CISSP)?

While the ISCP program does not aim specifically to prepare students for industry certifications, it has been commonly found that Masters degree students in Computer Science with an emphasis in information security coursework have been very successful in testing for such certifications.  


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