The Professional Capstone Certificate Program (PCP) offered by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Computer Sciences is designed for students who want to learn the fundamentals of computer science. Students use this capstone certificate to gain programming skills to transfer into more technical positions, for promotion, or as a way to prepare for graduate programs. Depending on the student’s background, the program can be completed in four to six semesters. A few courses are offered off-campus during evening hours each semester.

After completing the capstone certificate, students may be interested in other professional master's degree programs.

Details about the program can be found on the Department of Computer Sciences website, or by contacting the PCP coordinator at Information about tuition and other costs is available on the Professional Degrees and Certificates website.

How to Get in


Adult Career and Special Student Services (ACSSS) is the admitting office for all University Special students. However, the Department of Computer Sciences makes the final admission decision upon review of all applicant materials.

  • Fall Deadline: June 1
  • Spring Deadline: October 15
  • Summer Deadline: February 15

Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed on a rolling basis.  

Please contact for assistance with applying.

Admission Requirements 

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Preferred  minimum bachelor’s degree GPA of 3.0
  • Submit evidence of English language proficiency, if applicable. Please check Graduate School link for score requirements


Applicants must have completed two introductory courses, COMP SCI 200 Programming I OR COMP SCI 220 Data Science Programming I, AND COMP SCI 300 Programming II for at least three credits and received a grade of “C” or higher in each course, before taking the four courses needed to complete the certificate.

If applicants have not completed these courses, or equivalent coursework or demonstrated sustained professional experience in computer programming, they must complete these two prerequisite courses before enrolling in the Computer Sciences Professional Capstone Certificate Program.

The equivalent of COMP SCI 200/COMP SCI 220 and COMP SCI 300, if taken elsewhere, will be considered for fulfilling the Professional Capstone Certificate Program course prerequisites. In addition, any successful completion of COMP SCI 300 at UW–Madison will also count as a completion of COMP SCI 200/COMP SCI 220. Any applicant with a preliminary Computer Science background that is equivalent to COMP SCI 200/COMP SCI 220 may consider starting with COMP SCI 300 to prepare for the coursework in the certificate program.

Applicants to the Computer Sciences for Professionals program are also recommended to have completed prior Calculus and/or Linear Algebra coursework.

Application Steps

An online application for admission as a University Special student, selecting UNCS Capstone Certificate and the program: Computer Science for Professionals. 


Admitted applicants receive a formal letter of admission to UW–Madison from Adult Career and Special Student Services along with general enrollment information.

The Department of Computer Sciences will send an email to admitted applicants with specific information pertaining to enrollment in courses and completion of the capstone program. 

Additional detail about the enrollment process is provided on the ACSSS enrollment page


Grade Requirements

  • Must have a minimum GPA of 2.000
  • Courses must have a grade of C or better to be accepted

Required Courses

Designed for the working professional, several courses are offered in the evening, off campus, each semester.

Students must complete four courses from the following list, for a total of 12 credits

COMP SCI/​E C E  354 Machine Organization and Programming3
COMP SCI 400 Programming III3
COMP SCI 407 Foundations of Mobile Systems and Applications3
COMP SCI/​E C E  506 Software Engineering3
COMP SCI/​E C E/​M E  532 Matrix Methods in Machine Learning3
COMP SCI 536 Introduction to Programming Languages and Compilers3
COMP SCI 537 Introduction to Operating Systems4
COMP SCI 540 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence3
COMP SCI 542 Introduction to Software Security3
COMP SCI/​E C E  552 Introduction to Computer Architecture3
COMP SCI 559 Computer Graphics3
COMP SCI 564 Database Management Systems: Design and Implementation4
COMP SCI 570 Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction4
COMP SCI 571 Building User Interfaces3
COMP SCI 577 Introduction to Algorithms4
COMP SCI 640 Introduction to Computer Networks3
COMP SCI 642 Introduction to Information Security3

Minimum Requirements for Capstone Certificate Completion

  • Students must earn a minimum grade of C in each course used to meet Capstone Certificate requirements.
  • Courses in which a student elects the pass/fail or audit option will not count toward completion of Capstone Certificate requirements.
  • All of the Capstone Certificate credits must be earned "in residence" (which includes on campus and distance-delivered courses) at UW-Madison.
  • All of the Capstone Certificate credits must be earned while enrolled in the Capstone Certificate program.

Individual Capstone Certificate programs may have additional requirements for completion, which will be listed above as/if applicable.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Recognize and apply the core principles of Computing (abstractions and algorithms) to solve real-world problems.
  2. Use fundamental and detailed knowledge, skills, and tools (e.g., specific algorithms, techniques methods, etc.) of computer science and develop the ability to acquire new knowledge, skills, and tools.
  3. Design and implement software.
  4. Can solve problems by applying a broad toolbox of knowledge and techniques