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Willamette University to offer masters in computer science beginning fall 2024

by Office of Communications,

Professor in class

Willamette University will begin offering a master's degree in computer science beginning fall of 2024, pending approval from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Willamette’s Board of Trustees approved the new degree on Feb. 17.  

Jameson Watts, executive director of Willamette’s Committee of Studies for Computing and Data Science, said that Willamette’s reputation for high-quality, in-person teaching within a liberal arts context is a strong alternative to other programs in the region. “Willamette offers big school computing and data science programs, but with small school quality,” he said.  

Watts said that Willamette’s MSCS degree differs from other programs in the region because it is flexible enough to cater to the worker-learner market. Students do not need a bachelor’s in computer science to be eligible for the program, thanks to a summer “bridge” program that helps prepare them for the master’s curriculum. Students who enroll in the program on a full-time basis can complete their degree in 12 months. 

Another differentiator is the program’s required courses in ethics, policy, and design, which ensures that students are prepared to use their computing skills to build a better future for humanity.  

The master's in computer science is the first of several of Willamette’s planned expansions in computing and data science. The program is designed in response to the growing demand for graduate computer science education in the region and leverages new and ongoing electives from Willamette’s existing data science program, which offers a BS, an MS, an accelerated 3+1 BS/MS degree, and a certificate for data science for professionals.

Degree programs in computing and information science are the fastest-growing in the nation. The only degree programs with a greater than 20% annual projected 10-year employment growth are statistics and computation. The fastest-growing graduate degree programs are in cybersecurity, computational science, and database management.

Within the region, five out of seven undergraduate degree programs with a greater than 10% annual growth rate over the past four years are in computing and information science. Seven out of 10 undergraduate degree programs in the region with a projected 15% or more annual employment growth rate are in computing and information science.

Willamette's MSCS degree requires nine classes (not including the summer program) and a minimum of 32 credits. Classes will be delivered in the evenings at Willamette’s downtown Portland facility at 200 Market St.

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