Southern Arkansas University

Master of Science in
Computer and Information Science
at Southern Arkansas University
A SAU MCIS degree is among the most affordable in the nation.

Average Graduate Tuition and Fees Per Year
















*Tuition and fees are calculated as an average of public four-year universities’ published tuition and fees. Source: Department of Education

Our programs are routinely recognized as the best value programs nationally. SAU offers out-of-state tuition waivers to students from Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas who chose to live in university housing or reside in a bordering Texas county or Louisiana parish.

About the MCIS program

Master of Computer and Information Science

  • Are international students allowed to work while in school?

Students with F-1 visas are not allowed to work off-campus without special permission from Department of Homeland Security. However, a student can work on campus up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and can work on campus 40 hours per week during the school breaks and holidays. There is no guarantee that a student will find a job on campus since there are more students seeking jobs than there are job vacancies. It is the student’s responsibility to search for jobs on campus. Students should check with the Employment Resource Center for job vacancies after arriving at SAU.

  • Can international students apply for financial aid or scholarships?

International students cannot apply for federal or state financial aid programs.

However, SAU does offer three scholarships for first-time freshmen who are applying for the fall semester. The deadline for applying for these scholarships is March 15. We do not offer these scholarships for students starting in the spring semester. We also offer the retention scholarship which is available for students who have completed 15 credit hours at SAU.

Graduate students can apply for a graduate assistantship, but the opportunities are very limited, so there is no guarantee that you will get one immediately upon your arrival.

  • Do international students have to submit English test scores for admission?

If you are seeking immediate enrollment in an academic program then we do require English proficiency for most countries. However, there are a few exemptions to this requirement. Even if you studied at an institution that taught classes in English we still require proof of English proficiency. There are different English level requirements for undergraduates and graduates.

  • Do you provide transportation for international students?

SAU provides free transportation to and from Texarkana airport, bus, and train stations for international students at the beginning and end of each semesters as well as holiday breaks. We also have van available to take international students shopping around Magnolia on Fridays. Additionally, SAU has a Mulerider Express, which is a program that provides transportation for students to nearby Magnolia locations such as the downtown square, Walmart, and stops along Main Street. There scheduled routes, and shuttle services by appointments.

  • How can I pay the international student application fee?

For the international student application fee, you can send a check payable to “Southern Arkansas University” to:

SAU International Office
100 E. University, MSC 9224
Magnolia, AR 71753

Or you can contact the business office, 870-235-4018, here at SAU to arrange payment by phone.

  • How do international students transfer credits from a former university abroad?

A request to transfer credit can only be initiated after admission and enrollment in the first semester. If you want to transfer academic credits from a university abroad then you will need to ask your former university to send us an official transcript. You will also need an evaluation agency to assess your transcript.

If you are transferring from another American school then you will need to get an official transcript sent to us, and you will need to have the transfer questionnaire completed.

Once the transcript evaluation is completed, the academic deans will determine how many transfer credits you will get. If SAU does not have an equivalent course to the one you have taken then it will not transfer.

  • What are the requirements to get a course transferred over from previous university?
    • Only graduate level classes.
    • *Each class grade must be B or better.
    • *The school must be accredited.
    • The maximum number of hours to transfer is 9 hrs.
    • Classes content must have clear overlap with what SAU MCIS offers, OR be advanced computer science classes.
    • Although may be considered, classes coming from Non-Computer Science programs have slim chances of being accepted.
    • The syllabus will need to be sent directly to the MCIS academic advisor Deshazma Murphy at .
    • If you plan to transfer classes to SAU. It is recommended that you try to enroll in classes other than the ones you wish to transfer/substitute. This does not guarantee the approval of the transfer, and note that other department policies and guidelines may apply.
    • Please be patient and follow the right class transfer application process. You will be notified when the process concludes.
    • + Communication usually happens with the department administrative assistant, not faculty.
    • + Decisions can be only given when you join SAU and follow the class transfer process correctly.
    • After being admitted to SAU, a request for course transfer can be initiated here:
    • For Classes content, please check recent graduate catalog file in:
  • How much does it cost to be an international student?

Tuition is based on one full academic year, which includes fall and spring semesters. Approximate Cost of Attending includes tuition, room and board, and fees.

  • What is the classroom size like?

SAU maintains an average 17-to-1 student-teacher ratio with class sizes for lower level classes or general education classes unusually being around 30 to 35, though sometimes much smaller.  Class sizes drop significantly once you start your upper level classes with many ranging from 10 to 15 students.

  • What is the housing like on campus and do I have to live on-campus?

We have several housing options that are available for our students. Students can move off campus or into university apartments if they are older than 21 years old, or they have completed 60 credit hours.

  • When do you mail I-20’s for international students?

Because visa interviews can only be scheduled 120 days before you start school, we usually mail out I-20’s so they arrive just before visa interviews start. This way it is less likely for someone to lose their I-20 before the interview.

Using regular mail it usually take three to four weeks for your I-20 to reach you in another country. If you are in the US then it could take just a few days. Also, if you want express mail, which usually takes a week, there is a $50 charge. You can pay this by sending a check payable to “Southern Arkansas University” to:
SAU International Office
100 E. University, MSC 9224
Magnolia, AR 71753
Or you can contact the business office, 870-235-4018, here at SAU to arrange payment by phone.

  • Will Graduate Studies or International Student Services provide invitation letters?

No, the ceremony is for YOU, the student, so it is your responsibility to compose a letter for your family members.

  • What are the F1 Regulations for Enrollment?
    • No less than 6 credit hours in any given semester. There are very few exceptions to this rule such as difficulties the first semester, medical issues, or limited classes left during the student’s last semester. If any of these exceptions are met the student has to complete the reduced enrollment form
    • Only one online class can be used to count toward maintain full time status.
    • Students have an “end date” on their I-20, which is when they should graduate. If they are not graduating on time, within 4 years of starting at SAU, then they need to complete the program extension request form before the end date.
  • What are the requirements to enroll into CPT?
    • Student has to have been enrolled for one academic year in the United States.
    • Employment must be related to major
    • Anything wrong or missing, your CPT will not go through either by advisor or ISS.]
    • [You must enroll in the CPT class; contact MCIS Academic Advisor.
    • [Offer letter must be emailed to advisor when you fill-submit CPT application. Advisors do not get what you submit online.]
    • Watch email announcement for CPT applications each semester.
    • CPT comes with a start date and end date that are within the semester start and end dates.
    • The application and all correct documents must be submitted a minimum of 7 business days before the projected start date.
    • Any errors in documents or application submission will delay the process.
    • For your offer letter have your employer use the template found at
    • Students CANNOT begin working until a new CPT I-20 for the new employer has been created and the start date has arrived. Working for an unauthorized employer or outside of any approved CPT is consider illegal employment and WILL result in termination.
    • Go to our website read and follow all directions for CPT.
    • You will submit your information and documents there, do not email us any documents.
    • Once you are enrolled in the Internship Class; please complete the CPT Recommendation immediately so that your advisors can approve them on time. Please remember that you CANNOT start working before:
    • Your advisor approves CPT recommendation, and upon your advisor’s approval, your I20 is updated by the international office
    • When you apply upload a transcript with the registered internship class. Do NOT submit the application without this.
    • The offer letter should match the template on the website.
    • Do NOT submit an application without the start date being at least 7 business days away.
  • Is orientation mandatory for new students?

It is mandatoryto attend the Orientation Session.  Failing to attend orientation will delay your registration for classes and could cause complications with your immigration status.

  • What is the university health service hold and how do I get it removed?

You must review the Immunization Information Sheet, to familiarize yourself with the current regulations. You must print out the Medical History Form and bring the completed form to be uploaded. You must bring proof of the MMR injection (in English) to our university on the day of orientation. Transfer students must bring proof of any MMR, T-spot (Quantiferon TB Gold Test) they may have received at a previous school. If you do not submit the required documents, it will block your registration. You will have to contact the university health services to get the hold removed. Email:, Phone: 870-235-5237


Mathematics & Computer Science / College of Science & Engineering

Hours Required: 30
Categories: Graduate
Completion Time: 2 years *

* Based on 2 classes per semester including summer

The Master of Science in Computer and Information Science (MCIS) program at the Southern Arkansas University is one of the largest, most affordable and highly attractive computer science graduate programs in the USA. The program offers a wide spectrum of online and onsite courses that are carefully designed to train the students in both theories and applications. The curriculum is constantly reviewed and updated to reflect the ongoing changes in the computer science field. The faculty members are highly qualified — many with extensive industry experience.

Students in the MCIS program can either study general topics in computer science or, based on their background and interest, pursue one of the following focus areas:

  • Data Science
  • Cyber Security & Privacy

The MCIS program will provide a solid foundation in computer systems and software, and instill project/team management skills. Possible career options include: software developer, database administrator, information technology manager, data analyst, security/privacy analyst, or pursuing doctoral studies.

Undergraduate requirements

Students should have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Students with a bachelor’s degree in other areas will be considered but will be REQUIRED to complete to MCIS5023 and MCIS5033 as prerequisites. No credit is awarded towards the MCIS degree for the completion of these prerequisite courses.

For Newly Enrolled Students Only: MCIS Registration

Degree Plan

Specific Degree Requirements: Each candidate for the Master of Science in Computer and Information Science degree must complete a minimum of 30 semester hours of coursework.

Core courses (12 hours):

MCIS 5103 Advanced Programming Concepts
MCIS 5133 Data Base Management Systems
MCIS 6163 Computer Networking
MCIS 6173 Information & Networking Security

Choose 18 hours from the following:

MCIS 5003 Survey of Information Technology
MCIS 5013 UNIX Operating System
MCIS 5113 Web Programming: Client Side
MCIS 5313 Data Structures and Algorithms
MCIS 5413 Web Programming: Server Side
MCIS 6123 Decision Science
MCIS 6133 User Interface Design
MCIS 6153 Software Engineering
MCIS 6183 Special Topics
MCIS 6193 Special Topics
MCIS 6201-6 Special Topics Seminar
MCIS 6213 Applied Cryptography
MCIS 6223 Vulnerability and Risk Assessment
MCIS 6233 Traceable Systems and Computer Forensics
MCIS 6243 Wireless and Mobile Security
MCIS 6253 Privacy Compliant Systems Design
MCIS 6263 Big Data
MCIS 6273 Data Mining
MCIS 6283 Machine Learning
MCIS 6293 Special Topics
MCIS 6983 Internship in Computer and Information Science
MCIS 6911-6 Thesis

Program Contact

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100 E. University, Magnolia, Arkansas 71753-5000 Telephone: (870) 235-4000
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