Top MSCS Programs Create Industry Leaders: The Who, What, Why & How

June 17, 2021

Distinguishing one Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) program from another is challenging. Many offer roughly the same core courses and electives, whether degree candidates study full time, part time, online or on campus. The overall career outlook for MSCS holders is similar from school to school, and the cost of a master’s in computer science doesn’t vary much across the strongest MSCS programs.

Finding the right graduate-level computer science program is, therefore, a matter of digging deeper. Prospective students should, of course, review the MSCS curriculum and think carefully about how program format and school reputation might impact the ROI of their degree. But the long-term value of a computer science master’s is driven by people—the faculty, fellow students and alumni behind the program. Although computer science is a technical discipline, creative thinking and collaborative partnerships—which remain the sole domain of human beings—power it.

Ultimately, “people” should be your primary concern when choosing where to earn your degree, which is why Case Western Reserve University invests so much in its computer science faculty, students and alumni. Studying online has compelling benefits, but the relationships forged in the program and as a graduate will further your career more than almost anything else.

The benefits of earning an online, part-time MSCS

The benefits of earning a master’s degree online are apparent: flexibility, immediate utility and lower costs. You can keep your full-time job in a part-time, online MS in Computer Science program—which means you don’t have to pause earning money or gaining professional experience. You can apply what you learn in the classroom immediately in your current role, which can help you qualify for promotions and raises. And you won’t need to move across the country to enroll in a top program with a reputation that opens doors.

Case Western Reserve built its 100% online MSCS program around those benefits. Computer science master’s candidates who meet the admission requirements and prerequisites set forth by Case School of Engineering can study advanced computer science fundamentals from wherever they’re located through a blend of self-paced coursework and live interaction with peers and instructors. Core computer science master’s courses are not interdependent, so you can complete them in any order —and finish your degree in less than two years.

Most importantly, employers respect online MS degrees from Case Western Reserve because Case School of Engineering has a reputation for excellence that spans 140 years and has spawned major innovation in areas of computer science such as robotics, smart technology and data science. Unlike many schools, Case Western Reserve doesn’t draw a hard line between its online and in-person graduate programs. MSCS candidates take the same core courses in areas of computing like software engineering and data mining from the same professors and instructors in the department of computer science. Over five semesters, online computer science master’s students absorb the same technical knowledge and gain the same career-boosting skills as their peers on campus.

“At Case Western Reserve, professors are not only accomplished but also abundantly accessible.”

As an online student, you’ll have nearly as many opportunities to build relationships and work in partnership with your fellow graduate students and faculty. Students like you bring fresh energy and ideas, alumni are a rich source of opportunity, and faculty lend character and academic authority.

Explore a community of innovators and educators at CWRU

Collaboration, research and innovation are hallmarks of Case Western Reserve’s Case School of Engineering—at every level.

Who’s who on the faculty

Faculty insight shapes programs, including what computer science master’s courses comprise the MSCS curriculum. Professors and department staff determine what students learn and the competencies assessed. When faculty members are industry leaders and renowned research scientists, curriculum updates bring cutting-edge scholarship to computation coursework. Because their areas of expertise are at the forefront of innovation, such faculty can adapt a state-of-the-art computer science curriculum more quickly when technology inevitably changes. Hence, students graduate with the skills employers demand.

At Case School of Engineering, you’ll benefit from the experience and industry connections of faculty such as:

  • Yanfang Ye, the Theodore L. and Dana J. Schroeder Associate Professor in the Department of Computer and Data Sciences, and Kenneth Loparo, the Arthur L. Parker Professor and Faculty Director of the Institute for Smart, Secure and Connected Systems, who developed an online Covid-19 risk-assessment tool in April of 2020 that gave users up-to-date information about the relative risk of traveling to any location in the United States. Although neither professor is involved in the online MSCS program, their accomplishments still benefit all Case School of Engineering students simply by association.
  • Harold Connamacher, the Robert J. Herbold Professor of Teaching Innovation and 2019 winner of a university-wide excellence in teaching award, whose research interests include constraint satisfaction problems, graph theory, random structures and algorithms.
  • Assistant Professor Xusheng Xiao, who received a $500,000 National Science Foundation Early Career Award in February of 2021 to develop a context- and user-aware framework for the optimization of mobile application security.
  • Assistant Professor An Wang, who received two grants in September of 2020—a three-year, $496,595 National Science Foundation award and a $55,000 Google Faculty Research Award—to enhance efficiency in machine learning systems by addressing network bottlenecks.
  • Leonard Case Jr. Professor Jing Li, who received a National Science Foundation grant in August of 2020 to develop advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to address questions in computational drug prediction.
  • Assistant Professor Erman Ayday, who received a four-year, $1.2 million grant in August of 2020 from the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, for a project that uses novel methods to identify and mitigate data privacy risks in the data-sharing beacon protocol.
  • Department Chair and Kevin J. Kranzusch Professor Vipin Chaudhary and Professor and Associate Chair Vincenzo Liberatore, who have a history of establishing successful startups and doing research in various areas of computing.
  • Professor Michael Rabinovich, whose research interests include networks, Internet performance, cybersecurity and cloud computing. Similar to professors Ye and Loparo, Rabinovich isn’t associated with the online MSCS program.

At Case Western Reserve, professors are not only accomplished but also abundantly accessible. While the university could support larger online MSCS cohorts, Case School of Engineering has purposefully kept the student-to-faculty ratio low to ensure strong relationship development. These relationships promote student success—studies show that students who feel supported accomplish more—and may lead to research opportunities, internships and even jobs in computer science specialization areas that are traditionally tough to break into. Professors and department staff leverage their connections with top employers and influential organizations when helping students grow in their careers.

Peers foster pre- and post-graduation growth

A diverse and dynamic community of people doing important work in computer science is highly motivating and inspiring, and you can learn just as much from your peers as you do from your professors. Case Western Reserve’s online MSCS program embodies the idea that connection and collaboration are vital to innovation in computer science, which is why every course involves real-time virtual classes and live student study sessions.

MSCS enrollees are often talented software engineers, computer systems analysts, information systems specialists and programmers skilled in multiple programming languages and software systems. Some may eventually pursue PhDs in specialty areas of computing such as cryptography or human-computer interaction. Others plan to build on undergraduate degrees in computer science and various STEM fields. As your master of computer science cohort collectively solves problems, you will learn new ways to approach challenges. And because your fellow students live and work worldwide, you will also learn new ways of thinking about the power and perils of technology.

“Case School of Engineering fully immerses online learners into the community—from day one.”

Your classes aren’t the only place you will engage with peers. Online computer science master’s candidates enrolled in the School of Engineering can also get involved with university, department and student organizations like the annual Hack CWRU hackathon. Students develop hard and soft skills in these groups, meet people outside their cohorts, receive coaching and mentoring, and grow their professional networks.

A lifetime of connections in alumni

The online Master of Science in Computer Science program may be relatively new, but Case School of Engineering has a rich history of supporting entrepreneurship with well-established alumni. There are 20,000+ alumni in 70 countries around the world, including notable graduates such as:

  • Don Knuth, otherwise known as the father of computer programming and the author of The Art of Computer Programming
  • Paul Buchheit, better known as Google employee #23, who is a co-inventor of Gmail
  • Craig Newmark, the eponymous founder of craigslist

Building a network takes time and effort, but the Case Alumni Association enhances the postgraduate experience with initiatives designed to help you connect with other remote students and with graduates of full-time on-campus programs. The Alumni Association also finds and develops remote-friendly continuing education opportunities.

What are the people behind the program doing—and why does that matter?

If your goal is to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges using technology, enrolling in an MS program led by influential researchers doing revenue-generating, paradigm-shifting work in computer science is a smart move. Schools that support research and entrepreneurship may be the genesis point of more breakthrough technologies. For example: 350 inventions, patents and startups have come out of Case Western Reserve’s School of Engineering, including 80 inventions, 70 U.S. patents and 237 grants sponsoring research projects awards in 2020 alone. The school has licensing agreements with organizations like the computer engineering firm Roadprintz, the mechanical and aerospace engineering firm Hemex Health and the materials science firm Edifice Analytics. Currently, 99 percent of students contribute to the university’s research efforts in some way, which makes the student body an integral part of the School of Engineering’s success.

That said, even if your computer science master’s degree experience won’t involve participating in research, it’s worth looking into what students have accomplished. Case Western Reserve graduate students regularly participate in the university’s research endeavors. They lead research projects, co-author papers in elite peer-reviewed journals, present at conferences, and take ideas to market with the assistance of the Technology Transfer Office—before and after graduation. Recently, Case Western Reserve University alumni at Gooch & Housego produced critical components for the infrared spectrometer in NASA’s Perseverance rover.

If you want to know more about what the people behind the program are doing, reach out. Talk to professors about your goals and ideas and how the online MSCS offered by the Case School of Engineering will support your aspirations. Connect with current students to hear their thoughts about the computer science master’s courses, what it’s like to be a student in the program, and how they benefited from the university’s strong connections with industry. Remember that even at the beginning of your journey, there will be ample opportunities to connect with others because the remote Master of Science in Computer Science program is more like a traditional master’s degree program than most people realize.

The Case School of Engineering fully immerses online learners into the community—from day one. If you’re ready to apply to our MSCS program or want to learn more about the application process, consider registering for one of our upcoming webinars, featuring MSCS faculty members such as An Wang and Yinghui Wu.