All degree programs at BYU-Idaho are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. This is an important distinction when transferring to another university or entering a graduate program. In addition, some programs, often in areas that involve licensure, require additional, discipline-specific accreditation. The computer engineering and electrical engineering programs at BYU-Idaho are additionally accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET, http://www.abet.org.
Why are the computer engineering and electrical engineering programs accredited by ABET?
ABET is an international accrediting body that verifies that engineering programs adhere to a set of standards that government or other employers acknowledge. We formally accredit our computer engineering and electrical engineering degrees with ABET. This accreditation is a formal stamp of approval, and a significant number of our employers (especially in the government/defense industry) could not hire our graduates without ABET accreditation. It is an expensive and complicated process, but worth it for these students.
Why are the computer science and software engineering programs not accredited by ABET?
Like all degrees at BYU-Idaho, the computer science and software engineering programs are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, but they do not have the additional discipline-specific ABET accreditation that our computer engineering and electrical engineering programs do. In addition to increased flexibility in the program, we have not pursued this additional certification because neither employers nor graduate schools have required this sort of accreditation of our graduates. Likely for these reasons, only about half of the computer science programs in the United States choose to obtain ABET accreditation. For example, Carnegie Mellon, one of the most prestigious computer science programs in the country, does not go through this additional accreditation process. We have placed graduates in a number of different graduate programs, and have not had any concerns expressed about the lack of ABET accreditation for our computer science or software engineering graduates. In these domains, the most important considerations from graduate schools and employers are the skills students demonstrate through projects and internships.
What are the degree and course requirements for graduate programs in computer science?
Each graduate school has specific requirements with respect to entrance exams and course work that should be completed before entering their graduate program, but these requirements vary from one program to the next. They often include computer science coursework, and can also include fundamental Math, Science, and writing skills. Most computer science departments at universities we have contacted do not require a degree in computer science or software engineering before accepting students into their programs. They have admitted, and successfully graduated, students with various unrelated undergraduate degrees, such as English or music. However, they will typically require students to complete a set of courses before they are formally admitted into the programs. Because these vary so widely, it is best to contact specific universities of interest for their requirements.