Professional Capstone Certificate Program Details

If you have obtained a Bachelor’s Degree that is not in computer science, but you now want to learn the fundamentals of computer science so you can transition toward a developer job or advance in your field, the Professional Capstone Certificate Program is for you. Students generally use this program to gain programming skills to transfer into a more technical position, for promotion, or as a way to prepare for a graduate program like the Professional Master’s Program. This popular program has welcomed students from many companies in the Madison metropolitan area

Once enrolled in the program, if you are new to computer science, you will start by taking two introductory courses: CS 200 or 220, and CS 300. Afterward, you will take four courses to complete the program and earn the certificate. (If you have had an introductory background to computer science, you do not have to take CS 200/220 and CS 300.) Thus, a working professional taking one course per semester can complete the program in four to six semesters, depending on their background.

To help working professionals, certain courses are offered once a week in the evening. There is also an option to apply to continue (part time or full time) in our Professional Master’s Program to obtain an MS degree in Computer Sciences in an additional one to one-and-a-half years.

UW–Madison’s Department of Computer Sciences is highly ranked. UW–Madison is one of the top ten public universities in the country in terms of federal research funds, and it has been listed among top educational institutions overall since the early 1900s. One important measure of any academic program is the success of its students. Our students have interned and worked at numerous high-tech companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Epic, as well as taught at top-ranked departments in computer science all over the world. The Professional Capstone Certificate Program has been hugely popular and has had many students complete the program since its first cohort of graduates in Fall 2015.

Questions? Please contact: pcp-admissions@cs.wisc.edu

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Requirements & Prerequisites

Requirements

Visit the UW-Madison Guide for PCP program requirements.

Prerequisites

Students will need to complete two introductory courses, CS 200 (Programming I) OR CS 220 (Introduction to Data Programming I) AND CS 300 (Programming II) for at least three credits and receive a grade of “C” or higher in each course, before taking the four courses needed to complete the certificate. Students can register for these two prerequisite courses while enrolled in the Computer Sciences Professional Capstone Certificate Program.

The equivalent of CS 200/CS 220 and CS 300, if taken elsewhere, will be considered for fulfilling the Professional Capstone Certificate Program course prerequisites. In addition, any successful completion of CS 300 at UW–Madison will also count as a completion of CS 200/CS 220. So any student with a preliminary CS background that is equivalent to CS 200/CS 220 may consider starting with CS 300 to prepare for the coursework in the certificate program.

Prior Coursework

Credits from prior academic coursework, either at UW–Madison or from another university, cannot be applied toward the Capstone Certificate. All required coursework credits must be earned at UW–Madison while enrolled in the Professional Capstone Certificate Program.

Advising

PCP students should direct enrollment and program questions to pcp-admissions@cs.wisc.edu at the Department of Computer Sciences. Any issue that cannot be addressed by the coordinator will be escalated to a faculty member of the Professional Program Committee.

The Certificate and International Students

Overview

The Professional Capstone Certificate Program is now accepting international students. All aspects of the program, including curriculum and requirements, remain the same for international students. However, because international students are required to take a minimum of eight credits per semester in order to maintain full-time status, and the constraints of the program’s prerequisite courses (CS 200/CS 301 and CS 300), a more specific course plan for international students has been outlined.

In addition, because of the need to process an I-20 for international students, there are some additional steps in the admissions process. Please review the recommended course plans on this page.

Admissions

If a student needs a UW I-20 document (required to obtain an F-1 student visa to enter/stay in the U.S.), they should apply to the Professional Capstone Certificate Program at least three months before their intended start date to ensure that there is enough time to complete the visa process. In addition to completing the steps above, two additional items will be collected from you, once admitted, as a part of our application process. These items are:

  1. a copy of your passport page showing your name, date of birth, citizenship status, etc.;
  2. financial documentation showing adequate resources to cover UW tuition and expected living costs for at least one year.

The Professional Capstone Certificate Program is a terrific gateway into the Professional Master’s Program.

Questions?

Contact us at pcp-admissions@cs.wisc.edu if you have any questions about the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

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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)?

No. 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?

International students are welcome to apply to the Professional Capstone Certificate Program for any semester (fall, spring, or summer). Find more information here.

How long does the program take?

This depends on whether you have had an introductory background of computer science (equivalent to CS 200/CS 220 and CS 300 at UW-Madison). If yes, you will only have to take four courses. Otherwise, you will also have to take CS 200 OR CS 220, AND CS 300. 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. Students are welcome to move through the program part-time, taking only one or two courses each semester. Or students are welcome to enroll full-time and complete the program in only one or two semesters. Please note, students are automatically graduated from the program the semester they complete their final fundamental course so will need to plan their program schedules accordingly.

What is the cost?

For information on tuition and fees, please see the Bursar’s Office Tuition rates webpage.

Is financial aid available?

Please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore the options.

Gainful Employment Act Disclosure (Print Version)

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).

Can I continue in the Professional Master's Program or Traditional Master's/PhD Program after completing the PCP?

Students interested in either of the CS Graduate Programs would need to apply and be considered within the context of the rest of the applicant pool. The application process is competitive, and admission to the Professional Master’s Program or Traditional Master’s/PhD program upon completion of the PCP is not guaranteed.

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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?

Courses which count towards the Capstone Certificate are listed in our Requirements and Curriculum section on this webpage.  The department offers a broad range of courses each fall/spring semester (and selected courses in the summer). Currently we do not offer online courses.

When are courses offered?

Courses which count towards the Capstone Certificate are offered both on-campus during working hours as well as off-campus during evening hours. We offer two off-campus, evening courses taught once a week each semester on a rotating basis.

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 MS degree?

After completing the Professional Capstone Certificate Program, you can apply to continue (part-time or full-time) in our Professional Master’s Program (PMP).  You can apply up to 14 credits of PCP work towards the PMP, and can obtain an MS degree in Computer Sciences in another one to one-and-a-half years.

Are there any prerequisites for the program?

If you already have an introductory background in computer science that is equivalent to CS 200/CS 220 and CS 300, 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 200 OR CS 220  AND CS 300 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 200/CS 220 and CS 300, if taken elsewhere, will be considered for fulfilling the Professional Capstone Certificate Program course prerequisites. In addition, any successful completion of CS 300 at UW-Madison will also count as a completion of CS 200/CS 220.

How do I apply?

You will apply with the Division of Continuing Studies (DCS) 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 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?

The application deadline to be considered for the Fall term is June 1, the Spring term is October 15, and for the Summer term is February 15. Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Please contact us at pcp-admissions@cs.wisc.edu if you need help applying.

Questions?