Frequently Asked Questions

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Some of these answers are from the perspective of students entering the program at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Students who are entering the program from another institution and plan to spend their second (abroad) semester in Platteville should read below.

Why participate?

There are a number of reasons to participate in this program:
  • You'll receive a quality master's degree, allowing you to gain depth in a number of practical areas within computer science.
  • You'll have an opportunity to meet people and form professional contacts in other countries. Your international experiences will be invaluable to both you and your employers.
  • Students going to Germany will have an opportunity to visit Europe. See picturesque castles, visit villages that have been around for hundreds of years, work with students from all over the world, and enjoy good food and beer!
  • Students going to Australia will get to experience life in the tropics. Townsville is minutes from both tropical rain forests and the Great Barrier Reef. Learn about Aboriginal culture, see lots of wildlife, work with students from Australia and Asia, and contemplate computer science on the beach!    

What's this about "home" and "abroad" institutions?

The "home" institution is the school through which the student enters the program. The student must meet all entrance requirements for that institution. The "abroad" institution is the school at which the student spends the second semester. Once admitted to the home institution, the student is automatically eligible for taking classes at the abroad institution.

What schools are involved?

Three institutions are currently accepting students for this program:
  • United States: University of Wisconsin-Platteville in Platteville, Wisconsin (UW-Platteville)
  • Germany: Hochschule Darmstadt (h_da) in Darmstadt, Germany
  • Australia: James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville, Australia

 What are the entrance requirements?

Students must have a bachelor's degree, generally with a major in computer science or related field (such as software engineering, informatics, computer information systems, etc.). In particular, it is assumed that students would have had a number of courses in the discipline including introductory programming, data structures, and at least four of the following: computer architecture, database design, discrete mathematics, programming languages, operating systems, networking, or software engineering. Each institution has further requirements. For the requirements (and how to apply) at UW-Platteville, see here. See below for information if your undergraduate major was in another field.

You enter the program by applying to the institution that will be your "home" institution. For example, students entering through Germany would apply directly to h_da, and students entering through the United States would apply directly to UW-Platteville. Each institution has additional entrance requirements beyond the bachelor's degree.

What if my undergraduate degree is in something besides computer science or software engineering?

Students with a bachelor's degree in other fields can be admitted provisionally. At UW-Platteville, they would need to complete the necessary undergraduate courses towards the degree. If a student has already taken a course equivalent to our CS 1430 and has an appropriate math background, it is feasible to complete these requirements at UW-Platteville in three semesters. One must complete both CS 2430 (Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures I) and CS 2630 (Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures II) to fulfill the data structures requirement.  CS 2430 is a pre-requisite for CS 2630, and CS 2630 is only offered in the fall. Additional courses can be selected to bring the load up to full-time status. Undergraduate courses serve only to gain full admission to the program; they do not count towards the graduate program requirements. In some cases the student would be able to take a limited number of graduate courses before full admission. Substantial industry experience will also be considered in lieu of specific courses when that experience is directly related to the topic of one of these undergraduate courses.

The above sequence assumes the student has already taken an introductory course equivalent to CS 1430, Programming in C++. It is not necessary that the course cover C++: other programming languages (especially Java) would be sufficient. If such a course has not been taken, a minimum of three semesters will be needed before the student can fully enter the graduate program. Since that first semester will consist of taking just CS 1430 (with perhaps a mathematics course), it is strongly recommended that such students take a course equivalent to CS 1430 in their local area before moving to Platteville. However, it is important to communicate your interests and the course you plan to take with UW-Platteville faculty to make sure of a smooth transition into the master's program. 

Do I have to know German?

Students who start out in Platteville do not. All of the classroom instruction is in English both here in Platteville and in the JIM classes at our partner institutions. In addition, a "culture and language" course for students going to Germany gives the basics that you need to get around without having to rely on people knowing English. All faculty involved in the program speak excellent English, and you will find that most German students are very fluent in English.


However, if you plan to enter through one of the partner institutions (in particular, h_da), you will need to be proficient at the native language for that institution. Thus if you are proficient at English but not German, you would need to enter the program through UW-Platteville or Australia.

Is there a possibility that the international requirement will be dropped?

No, the international experience is an integral part of the program.

What degree will I earn?

You will receive a Master of Science in Computer Science.  

When do classes start?

Students can start their coursework in Platteville in either the fall or spring semesters. They then go abroad to either Germany or Australia for the following semester and return to Platteville to finish. The following table summarizes the typical semester start times at all three locations.

Location                         Fall Semester                Spring Semester
Platteville, WI                Sept. to Dec.                 mid-Jan. to mid-May
Townsville, Australia      Aug. to Nov.                   March to July
Darmstadt, Germany      late Oct. to mid-Jan.     Mar. to July

("Fall" and "Spring" are the names used at UW-Platteville - the other institutions use different names for their terms.)

Are any of the classes available online?

Because the program is focused on direct contact between students from different countries, there are few online courses. Students can take a business courses as part of the program, and many of these are offered online. But for the most part students will be in traditional classrooms, interacting directly with instructors and other students.

How much does the program cost?

The student pays tuition and fees established by the home institution. At UW-Platteville, the fees are the same as those for other on-campus master's programs. Click on the appropriate link below "Fee Schedules" in the menu bar to the left.

Room, board, and travel expenses will be covered by the student, including housing overseas and expenses for such things as passports and visas. A grant is available for helping to defray travel expenses; see the International Grants and Scholarships and look for "Study Abroad Grant". This grant is available to American citizens or permanent resident aliens who are enrolled in the program. Other grants may be available to you, so check them out!

See the academic costs site for information on room and board at UW-Platteville (ignore the information there on tuition and fees). As of 2009, living and eating on campus costs approximately $2750 per semester.

Living expenses in Platteville and Darmstadt are similar in that about 1 € buys about as much as $US 1 to 1.50. For the current exchange rate, see sites such as the European Central Bank and ExchangeRate.com.

Likewise, living expenses in Townsville are similar to expenses in Platteville - see ExchangeRate.com for the exchange rate. There is an additional visa fee for students attending classes in Australia, approximately $300 Australian.

International students entering the program through Platteville (that is, international students who treat Platteville as their home institution) would pay the same tuition and fees as a nonresident. This is because UW-Platteville is largely supported by Wisconsin state tax dollars. Assistantships can reduce this expense - see the next item. Students entering the program through the sister institutions (that is, treating Platteville as their "abroad" institution) pay the same tuition and fees as their home institution; such students need to see below for information on costs.

Are assistantships available?

A very limited number of assistantships are available; they are awarded on a competitive basis with consideration for need. Students must be enrolled full-time and taking classes on the Platteville campus to be eligible for an assistantship. Students may also be eligible for financial aid and scholarships.

Assistantships are not enough to live on—on the order of a few thousand a semester—but being on an assistantship does mean the differential between resident and non-resident fees are waived. That is, while you're on an assistantship, non-resident students pay fees as if they were residents. Most Wisconsin residents find it easier and more profitable to work locally instead; there are good opportunities in the area for students with software development and computer skills.

Once you have been admitted you may apply for an assistantship by filling out an application and contacting the program coordinator. Assistantship duties range from constructing software to further departmental goals to being a lab assistant. UW-Platteville does not support teaching assistantships, so the assistantships are typically research-oriented.

How do I apply?

All students can apply online at the UW System online application site. Details about the application process are also on the graduate admissions page.

What is the application deadline?

Applications are accepted year-around. For full consideration, American students (or students who already have a visa) should apply by December 1 to start the program in January, and by Aug. 1 to start in September. Applying earlier (for both American and international students) may also be important for receiving financial aid and scholarships.

International students - that is, those who will require a visa - need to apply earlier. The specific date depends on where the student is from, but May 1 is the general deadline for a September admission and Sept. 10 for a January admission. Later applications will certainly be considered, but may not provide sufficient time to obtain the visa.

Are GRE scores required?

No, taking the GRE (either the general or the subject exam) is currently not required for entry into the program. However, we certainly will take GRE scores into consideration if they are supplied.

How do I register for classes?

Once admitted, register for classes at UW-Platteville by talking to your academic advisor and filling out the graduate registration form. Directions for submitting the form are given at the same place. See the registrar's graduate school site for more registration information. Students typically register for 9 to 12 credits of coursework each semester.

How do I arrange housing?

Students at UW-Platteville have the choice of living on or off campus. See the housing web site for information about on-campus housing. To sign up for housing, visit the housing office or call 866.864.7647 (toll-free).

Students from the international partner institutions are currently being housed in the residence halls. International students have the option of arranging for off-campus housing, but they would need to make their own arrangements. One challenge is that most house rentals require a 12 month contract. But most international students find living on campus gives more opportunities to mix with American students.

Can I take graduate courses as an undergrad?

UW-Platteville has a policy allowing undergrads to take courses numbered between 5000 and 6990 for graduate credit during their last semester as an undergraduate student. See the graduate registration page for details, noting that your current GPA must be at least 2.75 or 2.90 over your last 60 credits. Courses numbered 7000 and higher are open to graduate students only.


Questions of interest to students coming to Platteville

That is, questions for students for whom their home institution is at one of the partner institutions.

How do I apply?

Apply to the institution that will be your home institution; you do not apply directly to UW-Platteville. Among other things, this means that minimum TOEFL scores and entrance criteria are set by that institution, and there are no additional entrance requirements to satisfy before being able to take classes in Platteville (though there may be other requirements such as purchasing insurance - see below).

How much is tuition?

You pay tuition to your home institution during your abroad semester, so tuition and fees (if any) are the same as for the first semester.

How much is room, board, and other expenses?

A residence hall room is approximately $1,760 (per semester, as of 2013). There are a number of different meal plans available, but the most popular ones are about the same as a residence hall room: around $1,500 per semester. For more detailed and accurate information, see the detailed costs and academic costs websites. For these latter two sites, you'll need to factor out the costs of tuition and fees since they don't apply to JIM-CS students from abroad. Also note the website may present information for the entire academic year, not just one semester; and note that while tuition and fees are higher for non-residents, room and board is (currently) the same for all.

As an alternative, you can live off-campus. If you desired to do this, you would need to make your own arrangements. Many upper-level UW-Platteville students do live off-campus, but since most leases in Platteville are for 12 months it may be very difficult to find a place for just one semester. Generally, the expectation is that students will live on campus for their semester in Platteville. In our experience, JIM-CS students visiting Platteville report that living in the residence halls works well because it encourages mixing with American and other students.

If you do live off-campus, you can choose whether to sign up for a campus meal plan or not. Students generally find a meal plan a bit more expensive than cooking for themselves, but it also has the advantage of not having to spend a lot of time buying food at the grocery store, cooking, and cleaning. In addition, the meal plan provides more variety and quantity than most students can get on their own.

Living expenses are pretty similar between Darmstadt, Townsville, and Platteville. More discussion on living expenses can be found in Ch. 2 of the International Student Handbook.

What else do I need to pay for?

Outside of daily living expenses, the most critical thing is to purchase University of Wisconsin-approved health insurance. This is a requirement for all international students, no exceptions. For information on health insurance, visit the incoming student application site and search for "Health Insurance". You will be billed for the insurance when you arrive. The insurance does not cover dental work (as of Fall, 2008), so students who are concerned about this may wish to purchase dental insurance from another source.

International students are required to make a deposit of about $200. About half of this deposit will be applied towards your housing bill when you arrive; the other half pays for transportation from the airport to Platteville and for a few supplies. Students also need to pay a fee for their visa; this was $180 in Fall of 2008.

There are a number of additional expenses regular students pay that international JIM-CS students do not need to pay. These include tuition, the "SUFAC" fee, and the book rental fee. If you are billed for these items, talk to the program coordinator to get the issue resolved.

How do I pay?

The University has contracts that allow payment by Discover, American Express, and Mastercard. As of Fall of 2009, VISA was not accepted by the University, though of course you can use VISA at local businesses. Other forms of payment are also accepted such as money orders, checks, and of course, cash.

How do I fill out the health insurance form?

There are two items that typically confuse international students the most on the health insurance form. For the address, enter the generic UW-Platteville address:

    University of Wisconsin-Platteville
    1 University Plaza
    Platteville, WI 53818

For the time period, enter the date you leave your country as the start date and the date you will return as the end date.

Can I arrive early?

Yes, up to 30 days prior to the start of classes. However, if you arrive early then it is critical that you notify UW-Platteville upon arriving in the US and that you keep UW-Platteville notified of your location as you travel. This is required for your visa.

UW-Platteville will send a bus to O'Hare International Airport (in Chicago) on a preset date to transport students from O'Hare to Platteville. The bus will travel to O'Hare just once; if you arrive early you will need to either get to O'Hare so you can travel with the other students or you will need to provide your own transportation from wherever you are to Platteville. In any case, if you are going to arrive before the pickup date, you must

  • Send an itinerary of travel plans and flight schedule to us before departure.
  • Call Jean Olson at 608.342.1686 on arrival and let her know where you are and the time you arrived. This must be done as soon as you arrive.
  • Keep either Jean Olson or the CSSE department notified of any changes to your travel plans.

The student visa that you will receive requires that people at UW-Platteville know where you are at all times while you are in the country on the visa. It's possible to get sent back home if you do not satisfy these requirements!

How do I get around?

Like most towns of a similar size in the United States (about 10,000 residents, 15,000 when the students are in town), Platteville does not have an extensive public transportation system. There is a good variety of stores within easy walking distance of campus, and there is a small taxicab company that can be used to get to the bigger stores at the edge of town.

Student organizations often sponsor van rides to the closest cities, Dubuque and Madison. From these cities it is possible to take bus trips to larger metropolitan areas such as Chicago.

Where can I get more information?

See the international exchange program site for more details about coming to Platteville. This site contains a link to the application form as well as links to information sites on academic calendars, visas, housing, meal plans, Wisconsin, and other frequently asked questions.

Who do I contact?

The coordinator at UW-Platteville is Dr. Qi Yang. If you have questions about our international partners, check out the web sites for h_da (Germany) and JCU (Australia) for more information.

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