Study Computer Networks, Data Analytics, or Security

In addition to the 10-course Master of Science in Computer Science BU MET offers optional master’s concentrations in Computer Networks, Data Analytics, and Security. Not ready for a full degree program? Pursue a 4-course graduate certificate and hone the skills to jump-start your career. There are 11 computer science-focused graduate certificate programs that can be taken on their own or build toward a master’s degree in Computer Science.

In the winter of 2019, a pair of enterprising computer science specialists traveled to Paris, France, carried by the fruits of their ambition. The recent alums of Boston University’s Metropolitan College (MET) had been invited to the City of Lights for the 22nd Conference on Innovation in Clouds, Internet and Networks. There, they hoped to demonstrate their inventive and unique command of computational theory by presenting a singular vision to restructure and unify two apparently unrelated technologies—WiFi and virtual local area networks (VLAN)—to make them more efficient, more powerful, and more secure.

The seed for the novel research Dan Cokley (MET’17) and Leland Smith (MET’16) presented overseas was planted when they were pursuing their master’s in computer science at MET. Their collaboration to improve the efficiency of WiFi sprung directly out of coursework assigned by MET Master Lecturer John Day in his course Network Media Technologies (MET CS 635). Once referred to as “one of the internet’s greybeard founding fathers” (spiked magazine), Day primed his students on the fundamentals and intricacies of media layering architecture. Inspired, Cokley, Smith, and fellow MET student and coauthor Heather Bell pushed their own research to publication.

Network Media Technologies is part of the curriculum for the BU MET Computer Science master’s degree concentration in Computer Networks, one of several options Metropolitan College students have to tailor their computer science degree studies to fit their particular ambitions. That the coursework resulted in practical findings with enough real-world consequence to take Cokley, Smith, and Bell far beyond the classroom was no coincidence, and in fact illustrates the key benefit of developing a specialization in computer science through a MET master’s degree at Boston University.

BU MET is an authority when it comes to graduate degree programs that help professionals take leaps forward in their career development, teaching the skills most sought after in modern industry while providing guidance and support through faculty mentorship. At MET, you don’t just sit back and learn about the latest developments in your sector—you are primed to participate and make an impact through hands-on projects and practical research. Students at MET get the opportunity to put their knowledge to work on the job and build up their résumés for career advancement—even as they study and develop their skill set.

Whether through a formal degree concentration or via electives taught by experienced industry practitioners, students pursuing a Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) at BU MET chart their own path and can choose the direction of their studies for themselves.

“All of us are passionate about different areas of computer science and, much to our benefit, BU MET provided each of us with the flexibility to choose courses according to our interests,” says Anshu Goel (MET’20), speaking on behalf of his fellow 2020 graduates Vikash Sahu and Asutosh Patra. The three friends won roles as software development engineers at Amazon after earning their Boston University master’s degrees in computer science at MET. Their advice? “If you are interested in any concentration, look into the subjects that inspire you and plan accordingly.”

To make it as a software developer, information security analyst, network administrator, database developer, data analyst, or IT project manager, you’ll need to develop an extensive repertoire of computing knowledge. Shaped by the needs of the modern information technology environment, the core curriculum for the Master of Science in Computer Science at MET is designed to give you just such expertise.

After taking Analysis of Algorithms (MET CS 566), Operating Systems (MET CS 575), Computer Language Theory (MET CS 662), and Software Engineering (MET CS 673), you’ll be well on your way to mastering next-level computer science work. What comes next is up to you.

Computer Science via Personal Touch

There are three optional concentrations available at BU MET in the MSCS Program:

Still, even without pursuing an MSCS concentration you can distinguish your studies through what elective courses you opt to take. And within these classes, you’ll get to make decisions about what subjects to focus on in research projects.

Associate Professor Eric Braude believes in empowering students to decide the focus of their studies for themselves. For Dr. Braude, research means most when it makes an impact in the real world. Therefore, in his elective course, Machine Learning (MET CS 767), where students are taught data-crunching theories and techniques such as neural nets, deep learning, and genetic algorithms, Braude encourages students to pick for themselves what data sources to analyze for the semester.

“They align their selection with their interests, their job, or a data source they have identified,” he explains. The result is a wide variety of projects—one recent student developed an application that mastered Tetris by playing many games and evaluating itself. Another matched grant sources with applicants. “Many aspects of society are represented,” Braude says of the approach.

Tara Adams (MET’19) hungered for a career at the crossroads of people and technology. For her term project in Braude’s Machine Learning course, she drew inspiration from her family life. Adams cares for her younger brother, who sustained a traumatic brain injury and subsequently requires skilled home care assistance with things like getting in and out of bed. Adams came to understand how common it is for family members to become a patient’s primary caregiver in the home, and how falls caused by everyday tasks, like transferring out of bed, are a leading cause of injury in older Americans. She set her sights on learning to use technology to transform home healthcare.

In Braude’s course, Adams got her chance. She focused her project research on leveraging deep learning techniques to determine if a person is trying to get out of bed or is at risk of falling out of one. The goal of her application would be to set up an alert system for a patient’s caregiver to help monitor the patient while the caregiver is not in the same room.

Adams credits the course’s empowering approach with helping her to fully grapple with the complex subject. “The way that Professor Braude organized the deliverables really set me up for success,” she says. “[He] took me from a place where ‘machine learning’ and ‘AI’ felt like trendy industry terms I only heard thrown around in meetings to actual skills and techniques that I’ve been able to employ in my work and projects.”

Those projects stand to do some real good in the people’s lives. “Ultimately, I hope to build something that will help my family solve a problem that we encounter on a regular basis,” Adams, now a product manager with Paytronix Systems, says. “And it would be amazing if this turns into a solution that can help other families with similar experiences.”

Strengthening Connections: Computer Networks Concentration

Master Lecturer John Day has been a part of the networking world for more than half a century. His days as a graduate student came during the era of the world’s earliest internet activity (the sixth computer to go live on the ‘net, incidentally), making him witness to some of the earliest decisions made in internet architecture—including the ones he would call mistakes. As Day’s students learn, the “datagram” protocol developed in France in 1972 and adopted for TCP/IP protocol is still in use today. Despite powering the nascent internet to new heights throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the TCP/IP protocol has serious limitations. Our modern reliance on TCP/IP systems, Day explains, is a significant contributing factor to content-delivery network outages and failures.

To redress these limitations, Day’s research has focused on finding the underlying principles of networking and then implementing them in what has become known as Recursive InterNetwork Architecture (RINA). The principles uncovered have led to a huge reduction in complexity, better security at lower cost, inherent support for mobility, resilient quality-of-service guarantees for performance, and other advantages.

Day teaches Advanced Networking (MET CS 775), a featured course in the MS in Computer Science with concentration in Computer Networks curriculum, where he is always on the lookout for new recruits to assist in his RINA research. “To join our research is quite simple: take a course with me!” Day says. In Advanced Networking, students go deep on vital subjects too often overlooked in the field, including naming and addressing, synchronization, congestion management, and routing. “In essence, the course is the interview,” he says. “My courses are really about learning how to think. Networking is just the case study.”

The opportunity to get applied experience using techniques that strengthen design and add security to the capacity of networks to maintain infrastructure is a valuable opportunity for prospective computer network experts. After all, in 2022, “computer network architect” was ranked #8 among U.S. News & World Report’s 10 Best Technology Jobs. Professionals in the field are well compensated, as well. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupation Outlook Handbook, the median annual income for computer network architects in 2020 was more than $116,000.

At MET, you’ll learn to interpret, specify, and implement data transfer protocols for network-specific requirements from leaders who have been making an impact in the field for decades.

“The uniqueness of MET’s networking program is derived from the embedded knowledge of the full-time faculty,” says Master Lecturer Scott Arena. “The combined experience in just three of the MET faculty equals well over 100 years of expertise ranging from ‘working on the 12th node on the Net,’ designing and implementing operating systems, and large-scale deployments of a Tier-1 triple-play network supporting millions of customers, to R&D work in areas such as Internet2.”

Among the courses Arena teaches is Network Design and Management (MET CS 685), where students learn to analyze, design, procure, manage, and implement cutting-edge computer networking solutions and technologies. Arena himself is an expert in the field of networking, with over 38 years of career experience working in the research and development field of telecommunications and high-order networking at places like Bell Labs, AT&T, and Verizon Lab. He holds a number of patents in networking and security.

From Arena’s vantage, the work his students learn to pursue is vital to the modern economy. “This architecture space actually serves as the backbone of today’s internet that we so heavily rely on,” he says. “As users, we connect at the low-order access level, whereas the Tier-2 and Tier-1 internet providers operate at the high-order level, using completely different architectures and equipment.”

With the MS in Computer Science Computer Networks concentration, you’ll develop proficiency in algorithms, operating systems, computer language usage, software development, and the management of data, networks, and security. You’ll also learn how to stay current on emerging new software technologies, applications, and approaches.

Informed Decision-Making: Data Analytics Concentration

Etienne Meunier (MET’19) initially came to Boston University from his native France via an exchange program. Given what he knew of BU’s standout international reputation, he felt confident that it would be a good place for him to pursue his goals of making a meaningful impact on the world via the power of machine learning.

Upon deciding to pursue his MS in Computer Science at BU MET, Meunier opted for the concentration in Data Analytics. It isn’t hard to see why. In 2022, Glassdoor ranked “data scientist” #3 on its list of best jobs in America, with around 10,000 job openings and a median base salary of $120K. Meanwhile, according to Market Research Future, the global data analytics market is expected to hit $346 billion by 2030. The career-centric curriculum of BU MET’s Computer Science master’s concentration in Data Analytics enmeshes students in database systems, data mining tools, data visualization tools, and cloud services, preparing them for careers like artificial intelligence specialist, data scientist, data engineer, big data developer, among many others.

  • “Data Scientist” is ranked #2 among US News & World Report’s “Best Technology Jobs” of 2021.

“Our data analytics courses are geared towards asset programming language,” says Assistant Professor Suresh Kalathur, director of MET’s analytics programs. “Courses are practical and application-based, so we use tools such as R, SQL Server, Oracle, Google Analytics, and so forth.”

Students learn statistics, probability, data description, data distributions, errors, performance estimation, visualization, model evaluation, data mining techniques, web analytics, and web mining. In his course, Foundations of Analytics with R (MET CS 544), a core requirement of the data analytics concentration, Assistant Professor Shengzhi Zhang encourages his students to choose datasets based on their own interest, and apply the analytics techniques learned in class to analyze the data.

“Since students taking CS 544 are with diverse background—from departments of biology, finance, mechanical engineering, psychology, etc.—they typically have their own specific dataset that they want to analyze,” he explains. “The project allows students to target their datasets, as well as the ones that are closely related to their own research, which makes the project highly practical and appealing to students.”

For students like Meunier, that optionality is critical. Meunier came to BU MET with a mission in hand. He had been pursuing research at Centre de Ressources et d’Appui (CRA), a research center on the Indian Ocean island of La Réunion that studies shark attacks and seeks to find non-destructive, non-invasive solutions that allow people to continue to swim in a designated area, without hurting the sharks and the ecosystem.

“There are a lot of shark attacks at La Réunion, and it killed the local economy,” Meunier explains. He sought to develop an algorithm that detects sea life and processes the high volume of video the CRA captures to recognize sharks and chart the evolution of their swimming patterns. Hoping the ongoing effort could be the center of his own research at MET, he sought the guidance of Associate Professor of the Practice Eugene Pinsky, whose research focuses on data science, performance analysis, and machine learning.

“I was really interested in continuing that mission, so I talked with Professor Pinsky in order to organize a directed study on that subject,” Meunier explains. “After doing long research on existing works, I tried to implement a version of the Spatial Pyramid Network, which allows us to have a network resistant to scale changes, and we managed to have good results.”

Using concepts he’d learned at BU MET, Meunier developed his algorithm, with the course IT Strategy and Management (MET CS 782) informing the project’s launch and what tactics researchers used to organize and label their findings. He credits much of his success to the mentorship he received from Dr. Pinsky.

“He guided me in the research field and, thanks to his trust and support, I’ve been able to be involved in wonderful projects,” Meunier says. Pinsky even helped Meunier and fellow BU MET student Pierre Moreau (MET’19) author their first publication, focused on long-term power consumption forecasting.

Now pursuing a PhD in bioinformatics, Meunier counts the relationship with his professor as a driving force for his work. “I really hope we will continue our research collaboration in the future,” he says.

Protected Assets: Security Concentration

Cybersecurity Magazine posits that if “cybercrime” was a country, it would be the world’s third-largest economy after the US and China. That’s because the damages inflicted by security breaches through 2025 are predicted to reach $10.5 trillion.

The 2021 (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study has estimated that the global workforce of trained cybersecurity experts needs to grow by 65 percent to make headway closing the workforce gap of 2.72 million. This points to the dire need to protect organizational vulnerability when it comes to digital information security, and the continued value of talented professionals who can identify, develop, and implement highly secure networks that support organizational goals. This includes important roles such as information security analyst—ranked #4 among best technology jobs, according to US News & World Report (2021)—security administrator, security architect, security engineer, IT security director or manager, IT specialist, and C-suite positions such as CISO and CIO.

“BU offers a variety of programs that focus on cybersecurity,” says Ian Hill (MET’19), an information security and privacy cloud analyst for Partners HealthCare. “My long-term objective is to land a role as chief information security officer (CISO) for a large enterprise.”

A major attraction for students such as Hill is BU Metropolitan College’s well-established reputation in the field of information security. Boston University is designated as a Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense and Research by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security, while information security programs at BU MET are certified by the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS).

This recognition—along with the diversity of students, the ability to complete the MS in Computer Science in one year, and MET’s small community couched within a big city and big school—was key for Hill. Another factor was the faculty.

“My job is extremely diverse,” explains Hill. “It involves risk management, security policy and procedure development, vendor reviews, network security, and enterprise security as a whole. These are all subjects that I took directly at BU MET with professors who are experienced and elevated within their fields.”

Information technology security engineer Edward Matthews , a lecturer with BU MET’s Department of Computer Science, was one of the faculty members to which Hill points. “Professor Matthews demonstrated unparalleled industry knowledge of security topics. He teaches multiple classes, so I was able to take Network Security (MET CS 690) and Database Design and Implementation for Business (MET CS 669) with him.”

Another was Master Lecturer Arena, whose experience in the R&D field of telecommunications and high-order networking quickly won Hill’s respect.

“The first class of my graduate program was with [Professor Arena], and his energy set the tone for my master’s program,” says Hill. “His industry knowledge and ability to take complicated topics and simplify them allowed me to excel throughout my program. I took Digital Forensics and Investigations (MET CS 693) and Business Data Communication and Networks (MET CS 625) with him.”

Another advantage of BU MET’s security curriculum is access to research and initiatives such as BU’s Center for Reliable Information Systems & Cyber Security (RISCS), which offers opportunities to collaborate and participate in research on system reliability and information security.

“RISCS is an extremely important center for advanced research in information systems and cyber security—for coordination of both education and research in these areas,” says Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Lou Chitkushev, who is also an associate professor of computer science and a cofounder of RISCS. “It is thanks to this center that Boston University was approved as a national Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education and Research.”

Another educational and research resource for students studying cybersecurity at BU’s Metropolitan College is the Cybersec Lab, which is dedicated to studying various aspects of the mobile computing and security area, with a particular focus on Android systems. Led by Assistant Professor and Director of Cybersecurity Yuting Zhang, along with Dr. Chitkushev and Metropolitan College Dean Tanya Zlateva—who is also education director of information security at RISCS—the Cybersec Lab engages in practical research, application development, and projects such as iSolationAlert, a collaboration with Professor Daniel Fulford of Sargent College and Professor Richard West of the College of Arts & Sciences, with funding by the Digital Health Initiative Research Award made possible by BU’s Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computation Science & Engineering.

“We developed iSolationAlert to serve as a social activity application that could help identify the social isolation of users based on information collected from their mobile phones,” explains Dr. Zhang. “We also developed a speaker recognition algorithm which serves to automatically identify if the user is involved in a conversation—while respecting the user’s privacy by not storing any data from the conversation itself.”

Students in the MET MS in Computer Science Security concentration benefit from collaboration with faculty through options such as Graduate Assistantships, which can provide opportunities to work closely with faculty on their research initiatives. Another draw is the industry experience many of the faculty possess. Full-time faculty at BU MET often have years or even decades of experience in the field and remain active in game-changing research. Part-time faculty tend to be industry professionals who bring insights on the latest technological advances, tools, and approaches to the classroom. When combined with the knowledge brought to class by students who are also working professionals, BU MET can offer a potent mix of practical and theoretical expertise—the kind one can apply on the job immediately.

Dr. Charles Pak, for instance, is a senior cybersecurity solutions expert who has managed US federal government data centers for over 20 years. He also happens to be a MET lecturer who teaches courses such as Enterprise Cybersecurity (MET CS 695)Network Security (MET CS 690)Business Data Communication and Networks (MET CS 625)Database Security (MET CS 674)Information Systems Analysis and Design (MET CS 682), and Enterprise Cybersecurity Management (MET CS 684).

“With 35 years background in the industry, I bring my real-world experience to the class, and offer insight into what students may experience in the real world,” says Dr. Pak. “I have found that students appreciate lessons born of my hands-on experience.”

In the Enterprise Cybersecurity course, for instance, Pak draws from his experience to develop unique projects for his students. “We conduct a password-cracking lab assignment that requires students to unlock a Windows operating system via password list, simulating how hackers can crack our computer passwords,” he explains. “Students get their hands on password-cracking tools and through the experiment come to realize the vulnerabilities of our computer systems. We have five uniquely designed labs in the course: Windows password cracking, web browser privacy and security, file encryption, port and vulnerability scans, and network traffic packet capture analysis.”

According to Professor Zhang, “Applying both offensive and defensive thinking, our security programs help students gain solid fundamental knowledge and strong practical skills in various cybersecurity fields to ensure the success in their future cybersecurity professions.”

Alum Ian Hill thinks that the approach to security education is near airtight.

“I was not only able to gain more knowledge, but my security insight matured to a level that I thought unachievable prior to entering my master’s program,” Hill asserts. “All of the topics covered in my program I used in my job interviews, and in my job. Best choice I made.”

Interconnected IT Programs

The breadth of Metropolitan College’s Computer Science & IT programs ensures that students can customize or expand upon their educational opportunities. For instance, BU MET offers a wide variety of graduate certificate programs, many of which can serve as building blocks to a master’s degree. A four-course graduate certificate may share specific courses with a degree program, and by completing the certificate you make headway in the degree program (to be eligible for the degree, you must apply for admission and be accepted into the degree program).

The following graduate certificate programs share courses with the Master of Science in Computer Science degree program at BU MET:

Connect with a graduate admissions advisor at csadmissions@bu.edu to discuss your options and how you might strategize your approach to graduate study in computer science at BU MET.

Other Computer Science & IT Programs at BU MET

Established in 1979, the Department of Computer Science at BU’s Metropolitan College is the longest-running computer science department at BU. Over the past 40-plus years, the department has developed an extensive portfolio of undergraduate and graduate programs in computer science and information technology, including 18 graduate degree and certificate programs in fast-growing, high-need areas such as applied data analytics, health informatics, information systems, IT project management, software development, and several others.

View Metropolitan College’s range of Computer Science & IT programs.