Mar 02, 2024  
2014-2015 Undergraduate Catalog 
2014-2015 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Computer Science

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103 Watkins Hall
Computer Science website
Narayan C. Debnath, Chairperson


Nicole Anderson, Assistant Professor; BS, MS, University of Iowa; PhD, University of Utah; 2008 -
Gary Bunce, Professor; BS, North Dakota State University; MA, PhD, University of New Mexico; 1971 -
Gerald W. Cichanowski, Professor; BA, Winona State University; MS, University of Minnesota; PhD, Michigan State University; 1983 -
Narayan Debnath, Professor; BS, MPhil, Calcutta University; MS, Visva Bharati University; MS, East Carolina University; MS, Ohio State University; PhD, DSc, Jadavpur University; 1989 -
Joan Francioni, Professor; BS, University of New Orleans; MS, PhD, Florida State University; 1998 -
Tim Gegg-Harrison, Professor; BA, University of Missouri-Columbia; MS, Ohio State University; PhD, Duke University; 1992 -
Sudharsan Iyengar, Professor; BE, Burdwan University; MS, PhD, Louisiana State University and A & M College; 1989 -
Chi-Cheng Lin, Professor; BS, National Chiao-Tung University; MS, University of Minnesota-Duluth; PhD, University of Pittsburgh; 1997 -
Paul Schumacher, Associate Professor; BA, MEd, St. Mary’s College of Minnesota; MAT, Stanford University; 1988 -
Mingrui Zhang, Professor; BSEE, Beijing University; MSCS, PhD, University of South Florida; 1999 -


The rapid spread of computers and information technology continues to generate a need for highly trained workers to design and develop new hardware and software systems and to incorporate new technologies into existing systems. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for “computer specialists is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations as organizations continue to adopt and integrate increasingly sophisticated technologies.” The Bureau also points out that rapidly changing technology requires an increasing level of skill and education on the part of employees. In addition to technical knowledge, companies want professionals who have communication and other interpersonal skills and can adapt their problem solving skills to different situations.

The Computer Science program at WSU is designed to prepare students in exactly these ways. As such, our majors take courses to develop not only their programming skills and technical knowledge, but also their communication and critical thinking skills. Students are also given opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom, to apply their knowledge to real-world problems. Through service-learning, independent research projects, and internships, they also have the opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty in specialized areas, such as digital image processing, computer assistive technology, game technology, embedded systems, database design, web programming, software engineering, and networking. By combining these opportunities, the department is able to prepare students for long-term success in the computer science field.

Computer Science Major

Computer science majors choose between two options: Computer Science (CS) and Applied Computer Science (ACS). Both options require a common core set of courses designed to give students a fundamental understanding of both theoretical and applied computer science. Upper-level courses within each option build on these concepts to provide depth in particular areas. As such, all computer science majors are prepared for computer science careers and, if they desire, further graduate study in computer-related fields.

The Computer Science (CS) option allows students to study the technical and theoretical aspects of computer science and software development in depth. The Applied Computer Science (ACS) option allows students to study computer science concepts in the context of an applied area.  Students choose a specific emphasis in this option and, in addition to the core, take courses in an applied area. The department offers three emphases areas: Bioinformatics, Computer Information Systems, and Human Computer Interaction.

  • Bioinformatics is the study of using computational tools and computer technologies to model, analyze, store, retrieve, manage, present, and visualize biological data. Primarily, the data to be processed are huge amounts of molecular biology data such as DNA sequences and proteins.
  • Computer Information Systems involves the study of business-related processes and software. An integral component of this track is web programming-both client-side and server-side technologies, and also component-based reusable software architectures. These topics are important in the development of software to support E-business applications.
  • Human Computer Interaction is an interdisciplinary field that attempts to understand the tendencies and limitations of humans in order to design and develop effective software that is user-friendly. As such, a successful HCI computer scientist must be well-versed in both computer science and psychology.

Scheduling Recommendations

A student who is interested in becoming a computer science major should ask to be assigned an advisor as soon as possible. All prospective and current computer science majors, including incoming first-year and transfer students, should consult a computer science advisor before registering.

Graduation Requirements

For a checklist of the University’s graduation requirements, see the Academic Policies & University Requirements  section of this catalog. Specific requirements for Computer Science majors/minors are as follows:

  1. 1. Students must have an overall GPA of at least 2.50. The cumulative GPA for all computer science major and minor requirements and electives must be at least 2.50, and each course (except CS 491) must be completed with a grade of “C” or better.
  2. 2. At least 18 credit hours of 300- and 400-level CS courses, with at least 12 credit hours beyond the Computer Science core requirements, must be earned from WSU. Courses taken through the Minnesota State University Common Market Program do not satisfy this requirement.

Graduation with Honors

For graduation with honors in computer science, a student must:

  1. Complete one of the following majors: Computer Science Option or Applied Computer Science Option
  2. Have an overall GPA of 3.0
  3. Have a WSU computer science GPA of 3.25
  4. Complete an honors project or thesis

The student may either take △ CS 495 - Computer Science Research Seminar  to develop an honors thesis or work independently with an advisor. In the latter case, the student must find a second reader for the project/thesis. Advisors and readers must be regular WSU faculty members unless a waiver is obtained from the department. With the advisor or as part of △ CS 495 - Computer Science Research Seminar , the student prepares and submits a proposal; upon approval, the completed project/thesis is presented to the department. A copy of the project/thesis must be submitted to the department library.

Repeated Course Policy

Students are allowed to attempt a particular computer science course no more than three times. For the purpose of this policy, an “attempt” occurs each time a student’s name appears on the final grade roster for a course.


The prerequisites for computer science courses must be met with a “C” grade or better. Students who register for a course, but who have not met the prerequisites with a grade of “C” or better before the course begins, must drop the course.

Pass/No Credit (P/NC) Courses

Except for CS 491 - Practicum in Computer Science  (Practicum in Computer Science), students must take all courses for the major/minor on a grade-only basis. The P/NC option is available to non-majors unless otherwise noted. Courses offered on a pass/no credit-only or grade-only basis are so designated in the course descriptions.


Some of the department’s majors and the minor are available through the Path to Purple Program at WSU-Rochester. Program articulations appear in the “WSU-Rochester” section:

Computer Science: Applied Computer Science (Computer Information Systems) (CIRC) - BS Major (Rochester) 
Computer Science (CSRC) - BS Major (Rochester) 
Computer Science: Applied Computer Science (Bioinformatics) (CSRB) - BS Major (Rochester)  

Computer Science Practicum

WSU’s computer science practicum provides computer science majors with experience in a non-academic setting. It is intended to serve as an introduction to an application environment as well as to solidify many of the concepts learned in the classroom. For these reasons, it is to be taken only by students who are nearing the end of their program of study and who have little or no previous work experience. For those students who are currently employed, the practicum must provide them with work experience that is substantially different from any previous or current work experience. Students must apply for the practicum and be approved before beginning the work experience in order to receive credit for the practicum.

General Education Program (GEP) Intensive Requirements 

Students may use Intensive courses to satisfy both General Education Program and major requirements. Intensive courses will usually be in the student’s major or minor program. The Department of Computer Science offers the following intensive courses in the General Education Program (GEP):


Oral ()
Math/Critical Analysis (◆)
Writing (△)

Computer science majors will satisfy all of the General Education Program (GEP) intensive course requirements.

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