Who initiated the movement to create this graduate minor and why?

The initiative for creating a new program in Computational Science came from former Chancellor Loren Crabtree. He asked Prof. Jack Dongarra, who heads the Center for Information Technology Research (CITR), to lead the effort. The new graduate minor then evolved out of a set of meetings and discussions with other faculty and administration. The IGMCS is modeled after a similar and successful program that the Statistics Dept. established for itself a few years ago.

What is Computational Science?

Computers are playing a larger and larger role in scientific research. In fact, leading edge research today wouldn't exist without the extensive use of computers and other information technology. They're used for analyzing overwhelming amounts of data and simulating natural phenomena, like exploding stars, that would otherwise be almost impossible to study.  But applying computers to scientific problems requires a unique mix of knowledge and skills. At a minimum, it involves Math, Computer Science, and the domain science from where the problem originates. Computational Science studies how to put all those pieces together for the most effective research. 

What are "domain sciences"?

It's easier to say what isn't a domain science. Mathematics and Statistics, on the one hand, and Computer and Information Science, on the other, are not domain sciences. Everything else -- Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mechanical Engineering, Economics, Geography, etc. -- are all considered "domain sciences."  The general  idea is that domain sciences all rely on Mathematics and Statistics to  formulate their theories in clear but abstract terms, and they rely on Computer and Information Science to encode the theories and data in way that will allow computers to work on them. Computational science focuses on the intersection of those three broad areas.

Why undertake a minor in Computational Sciences or how does it benefit a student?

If a student is getting a major in one of the three broad areas, and a lot of students are, then getting a minor in Computational Science will "round out" their education in the other two areas. So, for example, a student who is majoring in Geography, and then enters the IGMCS program, would take courses in Math/Statistics and Computer/Information Science to get their minor in Computational Science.   Students in one of the other two ("non-domain") areas would round out their training in an analogous way.

Who would be interested in a minor in Computational Science?

Computer-based methods are becoming more and more fundamental to almost any branch of science you can think of today.  And such methods are widely used in government and industry to increase productivity, save money, and create better products and services. So training in this area can enhance your value no matter what field of graduate study you're in.  If you want to work at the forefront research or industry, it's essential.

What field(s) would benefit most from an IGMCS?

From the previous description, you can tell that almost any field can benefit. The physical sciences and many fields of engineering are the most computationally intensive today, but the biological and social sciences are becoming more and more so. There isn't one that would benefit the most.

How many hours are required to earn an IGMCS for both the master's and doctoral programs?

Nine hours of course work are required for the minor in the master's program; 15 hours for the doctoral program. One 3 credit hour course requirement can also be fulfilled through a one semester internship, either on or off campus. The Program Committee is continuously working to identify and develop potential internship opportunities at places like ORNL, GE Global, etc.

Do I need to apply before a certain semester or when I begin graduate studies?

No. Students may apply at any time. However, students are expected to seek guidance for IGMCS coursework from an advisor before applying, which should be done prior to completing the IGMCS Student form. See the Requirements page under "Applying to the Program" for information on completing the form.

Who can be contacted for more information on the IGMCS?

If a student is in a department that has already joined the IGMCS, he/she should contact the program liaison as well as his/her regular adviser. The departments that are participating already, along with their liaisons, can be found here. If a student is in a department that has not yet joined the IGMCS, he/she should contact @email

How do I apply to the program?

The application process is very straightforward. Just follow the step by step guide on the Requirements page under "Applying to the Program."

Some of the courses that I have already taken to satisfy program requirements in my major are listed as IGMCS courses. Can I also count them as credit toward the Minor?

Typically, yes. Courses already taken as part of a major (including electives) that are also IGMCS courses may usually be counted toward the Minor.

Can other courses not listed on the "Departments and Course Offerings" page be counted toward the minor?

Possibly. But not without prior approval. In other words, courses already taken that are not part of the approved list of IGMCS courses listed on the website may not count toward the Minor. Consideration may be given to other courses, but prior approval is necessary for credit toward the Minor. Talk to your IGMCS department liaison listed on the IGMCS Departments and Course Offerings page.

What is the process for other departments who to want participate in the IGMCS?

Academic departments with existing or planned graduate degree programs are invited to submit requests for program participation to the Program Committee. Applications should indicate which degree program options (eg., Masters and/or PhD) are to be included and which courses are to be accepted for each of the options. It is expected that courses will generally be equivalent to existing graduate level courses in the participating departments. The Program Committee representative (College Representative) from the applicant's college may assist in developing the application. Application requests can be e-mailed to the Program Committee Chair, Dr. Jack Dongarra (see below).

Suggested program modifications that have been approved by the faculty of the participating academic unit should be sent to the College Representative, who in turn will bring them to the attention of the Program Committee for final approval.

The policies and operational guidelines approved by the Faculty Senate for the IGMCS are flexible so that approval for new programs or modification of existing ones can be given with a minimum of delay. Interested students can be admitted provisionally to the IGMCS program at the same time that the sponsoring department is applying for approval of its degree program.

For more information, contact @email