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Options and Certificates

Regardless of your degree choice (PhD, MS, MENG), you can gain official recognition for specializing through an option or certificate. These require that you take specific course or combinations, and require that you take some amount of coursework beyond the minimum required for your degree. In return, you will receive an indication of completion on your transcript and/or diploma. Note that some courses required for a given option or certificate might not be available at the Northern Virginia campus. If you are attending in Northern Virginia, check with the option or certificate to verify what courses are available.


Bioinfomatics Option

Students receiving the Bioinformatics Option will have that fact noted on their transcript upon successful graduation. To receive the option, students will take a minimum of seven (7) additional credits beyond those necessary for the CSA degree without the option.

  • Students receiving the Bioinformatics option must take PPWS 5314 Biological Paradigms for Bioinformatics (3 credits), BCHM 5024 Computational Biochemistry for Bioinformatics (3 credits), and GBCB 5004 Seminar (1 credit). PPWS 5314, BCHM 5024, and GBCB 5004 may not be used both to complete the option and to satisfy CSA degree course requirements. Students who already have background equivalent to PPWS 5314 and/or BCHM 5024 may be permitted to substitute more advanced courses to satisfy this requirement.
  • Students receiving the Bioinformatics option must take ONE of STAT 5615 (Statistics in Research), STAT 5616 (Statistics in Research), MATH 5515 (Modeling and Simulation of Biological Systems), or MATH 5516 (Modeling and Simulation of Biological Systems). These courses may also be used to fulfill CSA coursework requirements.
  • Students must complete the final exam requirement for their respective CSA degree using a topic suitable for the Bioinformatics option. Students completing a MS thesis or PhD dissertation must receive approval from the AGS for their thesis or dissertation topic to count toward the Bioinformatics option. MS coursework-only students must take GBCB 5874 Problem Solving in Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology, and use the final report from this course to satisfy their final exam requirement. In rare cases, the final report from CS5974 Independent Study may be used to satisfy the final exam requirement under the Bioinformatics option if the AGS approves the topic of the report.


Data Analytics Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in Data Analytics prepares students for technical careers in big data analytics and data science. Students learn to develop new analytical methods and tools by integrating the computational, statistical, and engineering techniques that form the heart of big data analytics.  The certificate is open to degree- and non-degree seeking students.  Students complete four courses from an interdisciplinary selection, spanning Computer Science, Statistics, and Electrical and Computer Engineering.  Details and checksheet are available at


Urban Computing Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in Urban Computing trains students in the latest methods in analyzing massive datasets to study key issues concerning urban populations. Students learn to apply methods in data analytics, computational modeling, and visualization.  The certificate is open to degree- and non-degree seeking students.  Students complete12 hours of coursework for the certificate from an interdisciplinary selection, spanning Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mathematics, Population Health Sciences, Sociology,  Statistics, and Urban Affairs and Planning. Details and checksheet are available at


HCI Certificate

A Graduate Certificate in Human-Computer Interaction Program is administered by the Center for Human-Computer Interaction and offered in conjunction with either a master's or doctoral degree in most departments (including computer science).

Master's degree students complete 9 hours and doctoral students 15 hours of coursework for the certificate; at least two of the courses taken must be outside the student's degree program requirements and home department. These courses should be relevant to HCI; those in the following list are especially recommended. If the student writes a thesis or dissertation, it must be related to human-computer interaction. Students can normally fit the requirements for the certificate into their program of graduate study so that the time needed to complete the graduate degree in their basic discipline is not extended by simultaneously pursuing the certificate. Students interested in the Graduate Certificate in Human-Computer Interaction should confer with the certificate administrator prior to submitting a program of study to the Graduate School to ensure that the requirements are met.

Note certificates are signed by the certificate administrator, not by the GD. As of this writing the certificate administrator for HCI is Dr. Scott McCrickard. To obtain the certificate, a student must complete the certificate application form and submit it to the graduate school. There is more information in the CHCI website.

Course Title
CS 3724 Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction
CS/ISE 5714 Usability Engineering
CS 5724 Models and Theories of HCI
CS 5734 Computer-Supported Cooperative Work
CS 5754 Virtual Environments
CS 5764 Information Visualization
CS 5774 User Interface Software
CS 6724 Advanced Topics In Human-Computer Interaction
CE 5064 Knowledge-based expert systems
CS 4624 Multimedia, Hypertext, Information Access
EDCI 6664 Advanced Instructional Technology
ESM 4714 Visual Data Analysis and Multimedia
ISE 5604 Human Information Processing
ISE 5605 Human Factors System Design I
ISE 5694 Macroergonomics
ISE 6604 Human Factors of Visual Display Systems
ISE 6614 Human Computer Systems
PSYCH 5354 Information Processing
STS 5424 Computers in Society