Professional Capstone Certificate Program: Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL QUESTIONS

CURRICULUM

APPLICATION PROCESS

GENERAL

Who is this program for?

If you have obtained a bachelor's degree in a field other than computer sciences, but now want to learn the fundamentals of computer sciences so that you can apply for software developer jobs, the new Professional Capstone Certificate Program is for you. For example, many of our students are paid by their companies to attend this certificate program, with the understanding that once graduated, the students will start working as software developers for the companies.

How is this program different from an undergraduate or graduate program?

This program is not designed to provide you with an undergraduate or graduate degree. Instead, our students earn a certificate in computer sciences, and gain the training necessary to pursue a career in software development.

Can I apply to both the Professional Capstone Certificate Program and the Professional Master's Program (PMP)?

You cannot enroll in the Professional Capstone Certificate Program and the Professional Master's Program (PMP) at the same time. Instead, a student who is about to finish the Professional Capstone Certificate Program can formally apply to the Professional Master's Program (and complete the Master's Program in an additional one to one-and-a-half years). We expect that a working professional with a bachelor's degree in computer sciences has already been trained to be a software developer. Therefore, such students will not be admitted to the Professional Capstone Certificate Program, but can be considered for the PMP.

Can international students apply?

We are now admitting a small pool of international students into the Professional Capstone Certificate Program as a pilot program. Find more information here.
 
How long does the program take?

This depends on whether you have had an introductory background of computer sciences (equivalent to CS 302 and CS 367 at UW-Madison). If yes, you will only have to take four courses. Otherwise, you will also have to take CS 302 and CS 367. So assuming you are working and take only one course per semester, you will complete the program in four or six semesters. (Note that we offer a selected set of courses also in the summer.)

Can I attend the program part-time or full-time?

Yes. You can attend either part-time or full-time. If you attend full time, you can complete the program even faster.

What is the cost?

Starting with the fall 2015 semester, the Professional Capstone Certificate Program will charge $800 per credit (not including required fees).

If you do not have to take CS 302 and CS 367, then you only have to take four courses, for a total of 12 credits. So a student taking a 3-credit course in fall 2015 would pay $2,400 plus fees (approximately $225 total). Assuming no or minimal tuition changes by the university, a student taking four courses would pay roughly $2,400 * 4 = $9,600 to complete the program (not including fees, which are roughly $225 per semester).

On the other hand, if a student also has to take CS 302 and CS 367, then he or she will pay roughly $2,400 * 6 = $14,400 to complete the program (not including fees, which are roughly $225 per semester).

Is financial aid available?

In general, Capstone students are not eligible for federal financial aid, but are eligible for private educational loans. Students should also explore the possibility of seeking sponsorship through their current employer (a majority of the current students in our program receive such sponsorship). Please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore the options.

Curriculum

How many courses will I need to take?

Once admitted to the certificate program, a student must complete four courses with at least a grade of C per course. Each course must also be completed with at least three credits, for a total of twelve credits. At least two courses must be at the 400 level or above. See the Requirements & Curriculum section for more information.

What are the course offerings each term?

You can take any course offered by the Department of Computer Sciences.  The department offers a broad range of courses each fall/spring semester (and selected courses in the summer). Additionally, we offer certain courses that are taught once a week in the evening. Currently we do not offer online courses, but will consider them as the program grows.

Can I transfer prior coursework into the Professional Capstone Certificate Program?

Credits from prior academic coursework, either at UW-Madison or from another university, cannot be applied toward the Professional Capstone Certificate Program. All twelve required credits must be earned by taking courses at UW-Madison while being enrolled in the PCP.

Will I be able to use the credits I earn in this program to receive an M.S. degree?

After completing the Professional Capstone Certificate Program, you have the option to continue (part-time or full-time) in our Professional Master's Program (PMP).  You can transfer certain courses, and can obtain a M.S. degree in Computer Sciences in another one to one-and-a-half years. When you are about to complete the certificate, you should contact us about applying to the Professional Master's Program (PMP) and transferring courses.

Are there any prerequisites for the program?

If you already have an introductory background in Computer Sciences that is equivalent to CS 302 (Introduction to Programming) and CS 367 (Introduction to Data Structures), you will be admitted to the Professional Capstone Certificate Program and will take four courses to complete the certificate.

Otherwise, you will still be admitted to the Professional Capstone Certificate Program, but you will be required to take CS 302 and CS 367 before being allowed to take the four additional courses to complete the program.

Can I satisfy the prerequisites with prior coursework?

The equivalent of CS 302 and CS 367, if taken elsewhere, will be considered for fulfilling the Professional Capstone Certificate Program course prerequisites. In addition, any successful completion of CS 367 at UW-Madison will also count as a completion of CS 302. 

APPLICATION PROCESS

How do I apply?

You will apply with DCS (Division of Continuing Studies) to be (a) admitted as a special student at UW-Madison, and (b) admitted into the Professional Capstone Certificate Program.

DCS will handle Part (a) by themselves. For Part (b), DCS will work with the Department of Computer Sciences. Briefly, the Department of Computer Sciences will examine your application and notify DCS whether you can be admitted to the program. If yes, DCS will in turn notify you. For more information, please see the Application Process section.
 
What is the application deadline?

Students will be admitted into this program on a rolling basis. Applications are accepted during each term. Please contact us at pcp-admissions@cs.wisc.edu if you need help applying.