Degree Requirements

The M.S. degree in Computer and Information Technology is designed to be very flexible. This allows each student to tailor his or her degree to their own professional and research interests.
There are multiple degree options, the requirements for which are described in the sections below. Each degree option is divided into areas. The Primary Area is for foundation courses. The Related Area is for specialized courses. Some plans of study also include areas for a Thesis or Directed Project. 

Each student must file a specific plan of study with his or her Graduate Committee by the end of the second semester of graduate study. The plan of study must be based on the degree requirements for one of the options described below.

Overarching Rules

All of the M.S. in CIT degree requirements are subject to the following rules:

  • More than 50 percent of all credits must be earned while registered at the Purdue University, West Lafayette campus. In other words, you can transfer some credits from other universities, subject to relevance and non-overlap with Purdue courses taken.
  • No more than 12 credits of Purdue courses taken as a non-degree (or TEMP) student may be applied to any Purdue graduate degree, even if those specific courses are required or relevant to a Purdue graduate degree.  In other words, a non-degree student must be officially admitted to a graduate program before they have completed more than 12 credit hours.
  • No more than 6 credits of independent study courses may be applied to the M.S. degree requirements.
  • No more than 6 credits of undergraduate courses (at the 30000- or 40000-level) may be applied to the M.S. degree requirements.  Any approved undergraduate coursework must provide prerequisite knowledge or expertise needed for a subsequent graduate-level course (50000- or 60000-level, inclusive of thesis and directed project work). A minimum grade of B- is required to apply an undergraduate course to any graduate degree. It should be noted that some graduate faculty will not approve any undergraduate coursework in a graduate degree plan of study.
  • No course can fulfill both an undergraduate degree requirement and a graduate degree requirement. In other words, a student who took a graduate-level course to fulfill an undergraduate degree requirement cannot subsequently use those same credits to fulfill a graduate degree requirement. There is a prescribed university process and form for requesting application of excess undergraduate credits to a graduate degree.
  • A cumulative Grade Point Average > 3.00 (out of 4.00) is required for all courses applied to the M.S. degree requirements.  Additionally, a student cannot have more than 6 credits of courses with a grade lower than B-.

Degree Requirements for the M.S. with Thesis (default)

The thesis option is the default plan of study for all M.S. CIT students with the exception of our online, distance program. The program culminates in a research thesis that contributes new knowledge to the discipline of information technology. The resulting degree will be posted to the transcript as a “thesis” degree.

This degree allows for the possibility of eventually continuing to a Ph.D. degree.

Credits Area Degree Requirement See Note
(0-1) Research CNIT 58100-CIT (CIT Graduate Research Semester)
Most CIT major professors require their students to take this course in the first semester to stimulate thinking about research and the thesis. This course is not actually recorded in the official plan of study except as a comment.
 
(3) Primary Graduate level statistics or quantitative methods course 1
(3) Primary Graduate level research methods and writing course 2
(3-15) Primary CNIT foundation courses (selected from approved courses) 3
(6-18) Related Electives (approved by student's Graduate Committee) 4
(6) Research Thesis (includes proposal, written thesis, and oral defense) 5
(0) Publication The thesis option also includes the expectation that the student successfully publish a paper, abstract, poster, or book chapter in an academic conference proceedings, journal, periodical or similar venue or channel. The publication may be co-authored with other students and/or professors. Exceptions may be granted only through the CIT Graduate Program Chair or the CIT Graduate Education Committee.  
(33) TOTAL Total credits must add up to at least 33 credit hours  

Degree Requirements for the M.S. Directed Project Option

The directed project option is an alternative plan of study for M.S. CIT students. The program culminates in the application of existing research to develop a new product or process within the discipline of information technology. The resulting degree will be posted to the transcript as a “non-thesis” degree.

As a non-thesis degree, this option does NOT allow for the possibility of eventually continuing to a Ph.D. degree.

Credits Area Degree Requirement See Note
(3) Primary Graduate level statistics or quantitative methods course 1
(3) Primary Graduate level research methods and writing course 2
(3-15) Primary CNIT foundation courses (selected from approved courses) 3
(6-21) Related Electives (approved by student's Graduate Committee) 4
(3) Project Directed Project (includes proposal, written thesis, and oral defense) 6
(0) Publication Depending on the major professor, there may or may not be a publication requirement for the directed project option. If required, the target publisher may either be academic or trade professional.  
(33) TOTAL Total credits must add up to at least 33 credit hours  

Degree Requirements for the M.S. Coursework-only Exit Option

The coursework-only option is an exit alternative for students who cannot complete a thesis or directed project. IMPORTANT NOTE: Not all credits already earned can be applied to this option. The program requires more credit hours, offers less flexibility in course choices, and excludes any credits established for the thesis or directed project (e.g., CNIT 59800, CNIT 62300, TECH 64600, CNIT 69800).

Students who transfer into this option become ineligible for CIT funded graduate teaching or research assistantships in any future semester.

The coursework-only option is a last-resort option. Transfer into this option requires approval from the Program Chair. As a non-thesis degree, this option does NOT allow for the possibility of eventually continuing to a Ph.D. degree.

Credits Area Degree Requirement See Note
(3) Primary Graduate level statistics or quantitative methods course 1
(9) Primary CNIT foundation courses 3
(24) Related Electives (approved by student's Graduate Committee) 4
(0) Research Credits earned toward a thesis cannot be counted in the Primary or Related Areas 7
(0) Project Credits earned toward a directed project cannot be counted in the Primary or Related Areas 7
(0) Final Exam The coursework-only option may also include the expectation that the student pass a final examination over the Primary Area courses in the plan of study. Such an examination may be oral and/or written.  
(36) TOTAL Total applicable credits must add up to at least 36 credit hours  


Notes for all of the above M.S. Degree Requirements

These notes are indexed to the Notes columns in the above tables.

Note # Description of Allowable Courses
1

The graduate level statistics or quantitative methods requirement can be filled by one of the following approved courses:

2

The graduate level research methods and writing requirement can be filled by one of the following approved courses:

  • TECH 64600  Analysis of Research in Industry and Technology (most common research methods course taken by CIT students; should be taken during the next to last semester of graduate study and concurrent with 1 credit hour of CNIT 69800; students write a draft thesis proposal in this course)
  • TECH 69700 Qualitative Research Methods in Technology (useful for student's whose research will not be statistics-based; some students take both this as an additional research methods course because there will be both quantitative and qualitative aspects to their research; ask your major professor)
  • CNIT 62300 Research Methods for Computing (to be eventually replaced with a permanent course number 69###)
  • EDPS 533 Introduction to Educational Research (for CIT CERIAS students, or students specializing in computing education;ask your major professor if this course is appropriate to your research)
  • Other proposed courses must be pre-approved by the CIT Graduate Program Chair or Graduate Education Committee
3

Courses approved for inclusion as CNIT foundation selectives in the Primary Area include:

  • CNIT 55000 Organizational Impact of Information Technology
  • CNIT 55100 Information Technology Economics
  • CNIT 55200 Information Technology Project Management
  • CNIT 55300 Quality Management in Information Technology
  • CNIT 55600 Basic Computer Forensics (approved only for CIT CERIAS interdisciplinary students)
  • IT 50800 Quality and Productivity in Industry and Technology (approved only as a substitute for CNIT 55300)
  • Other proposed courses must be pre-approved by the CIT Graduate Program Chair or Graduate Education Committee.
4

Electives are recorded in the Related Area of the plan of study, and are specific to the student's areas of specialization and research. These electives require approval of the student’s entire Graduate Committee. If completed prior to filing a plan of study, the credits may not be approved for your graduate degree. The related area electives may include:

  • CNIT graduate level catalog courses numbered 50000 and higher (except for CNIT 59800 and CNIT 69800) as deemed appropriate by the student's entire Graduate Committee.
  • Other graduate level catalog courses numbered 50000 and higher from any college or school within Purdue University, and as deemed appropriate by the student's entire Graduate Committee. This allows students to build interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary depth, as needed, in their plans of study.
  • Students needing a refresher course in programming should consider CS 50100.
  • Graduate level prototype courses numbered 50000 and higher. These are courses that are being developed and prototyped by faculty members with an expectation that some will eventually become permanent catalog course numbers. In CIT, these courses are numbered CNIT 58100-xxx, where xxx is an alphanumeric suffix used to differentiate different courses. Other programs may use different numbers for their prototype courses.
  • Graduate level independent study courses allow students to study appropriate subjects for which no established course exists, under the direct supervision of a qualified faculty member. A maximum of six credit hours of independent study may be included in a plan of study. Courses must be unanimously approved by the student's Graduate Committee. In Computer and Information Technology, these courses are numbered CNIT 59000. Requests for independent study must be proposed and approved before the student registers for the course.
  • Undergraduate courses numbered 30000 and above may be included in a graduate plan of study if unanimously approved by the student's Graduate Committee. The courses must contain subject matter necessary to the student's subsequent graduate courses or research. It should be noted that some faculty refuse to approve undergraduate courses in a graduate plan of study. Also, undergraduate credits are NEVER allowed in a coursework-only plan of study.

Remediation courses do NOT carry credit toward any M.S. degree requirement, and must NOT be included in a plan of study. Some students with insufficient undergraduate computing backgrounds may have been granted conditional admission to the program and required to complete specific undergraduate remediation course requirements. Remediation may also be prescribed after admittance to the CIT graduate program based upon the initial academic advisor's review of the student's academic and professional background and proficiencies. 

5

The thesis course, CNIT 69800, must be completed over two semesters.

  • The first semester (1-2 credits) requires the student to write a thesis proposal and then defend that proposal to his or her Graduate Committee.
  • The second semester (4-5 credits) requires the student to complete the thesis as successfully proposed, and defend the thesis to his or her committee. The defense is called a final exam.
  • It is NOT allowed to combine the proposal, thesis and defense into a single semester.
6

The directed project course, CNIT 59800, must be completed over two semesters.

  • The first semester (1 credit) requires the student to write a directed project proposal and then defend that proposal to his or her Graduate Committee.
  • The second semester (2 credits) requires the student to complete the direct project as successfully proposed, and defend the project deliverables to his or her committee.
  • It is NOT allowed to combine the proposal, project and defense into a single semester.
7 When a student transfers into the coursework-only option, he or she is NOT allowed to apply any thesis or directed project course credits already earned to fulfill a degree requirement for the coursework-only option. This includes TECH 64600, CNIT 59800, CNIT 62300, CNIT 69800, and possibly other courses.