Computer Science, MS

Our graduate program teaches you to understand the complexity of computing in the real-world context that it is being used. 

Our graduate students come from all corners of the globe to pursue a wide range of research topics and work in many application areas within other disciplines. Graduate students not only build a foundation of knowledge in computer science from course work—they’re proactive participants in their own training. Students in the Department of Computer Science identify interesting problems for their own research. They engage in independent study and contribute to the progress of their fellow students while learning. Most importantly, they contribute meaningful ideas to the science of computing and push the field forward. 

Degree Requirements

Course Requirements

The MS degree requires 30 credits of formal course work. The 30 credits include a total of 24 credits plus an MS thesis, CS 2000; or 27 credits plus an MS project, CS 2910.

The 30 credits must include one course from each of the following foundation areas.

     Theory and Algorithms

     Architecture and Compilers

     Operating Systems and Networks

     Artificial Intelligence and Database Systems

In addition to the12 credits needed to satisfy the foundation area courses, a student has to complete additional coursework based on one of the two following options:

  • Thesis Option: six credits for the MS thesis + at least 12 additional credits of graduate Department of Computer Science courses.
  • Project Option: three credits for the MS project + at least 15 additional credits of graduate Department of Computer Science courses.

General Requirements

  • All courses except the project or thesis must be taken for a letter grade.
  • The student must recieve a grade of B or better in each of the Foundation Area courses, a grade of B- or better for all other courses, and must maintain an overall average of B or better.
  • The additional coursework cannot include independent or directed study courses (CS 2990CS 3000), MS thesis (CS 2000) or project (CS 2900), cooperative (CS 2905), or research courses (CS 2001CS 2002CS 2003 and CS 3900).
  • Two CS 20XX courses are allowed as additional coursework, the remaining additional courses must be 21XX or higher.
  • One course may be taken outside the department if approved by GPEC. The outside course will reduce by one the number of allowed CS 20XX courses.


MS degrees must be completed within four calendar years from the student’s initial registration for graduate studies. This limit applies to all students, whether full-time or part-time. Normally, full-time students will complete the degree within two years.

Copies of the thesis must be submitted to the committee at least two weeks in advance of the examination.

The project report must be submitted to the advisor at least a week in advance of the end of the term.

MS Thesis or Project

There are two options for completing the MS degree: the thesis option and the project option.

For the thesis option, the student must complete a written thesis, taking six credits of CS 2000, which must be taken with the S/N grading option. The student’s advisor will assist them in selecting a thesis committee, to consist of at least three faculty members, at least two members must be from Computer Science (one being your advisor) and at most one from outside the department or University (all three could be from Computer Science). The committee will conduct a public oral final examination. The committee must be formed with all names sent to the graduate administrator at least four weeks before the examination date

The committee will vote on the outcome and sign a report that will be filed in the SCI Graduate Students Office. The oral examination is public and open to all members of the Computer Science Department. It must be announced to CSD via the faculty and graduate mailing lists at least one week prior to its scheduled date. The announcement must include a title, an abstract, name of advisor(s), name of committee members, date of examination, and location of examination.

For the project option, the student must complete a Master’s project, taking three credits of CS 2910, with the S/N grading option. Approval of a project report by the advisor is required.

Both CS 2000 and CS 2910 are closed courses, requiring approval of the faculty advisor for enrollment.

MS Internships and Co-Ops

MS students are eligible to enroll in MS Internship (CS 2900) or Co-Op (CS 2905) to supplement their in-class education with practical training. MS students can register at most twice for any combination of CS 2900 or CS 2905 (two CS 2900, two CS 2905 or one CS 2900 and one CS 2905). International students must complete two semesters of full-time study prior to qualifying for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Note that OIS is unlikely to approve CPT authorization during the final semester of study; please talk to the graduate studies administrator or the DGS for more information regarding these issues.

Students wishing to complete an MS Internship (CS 2900) or Co-Op (CS 2905) as part of their MS degree must fill out a learning agreement in conjunction with their employer and their faculty advisor in the CS Department. Please note that MS Internships or Co-Ops not contributing substantively to a student’s graduate education will not be approved by the Department.

Completed Learning Agreement forms (with all signatures) should be turned in to the graduate studies administrator prior to the add/drop deadline for the term in which the Internship or the Co-Op will take place.