M.S. in Computer Science

Admission to the MS Program requires a strong background in Computer Science. Background courses which contain much of what is needed include: in Mathematics - calculus, linear algebra, and probability and statistics; in Computer Science - programming languages, computer organization, discrete structures, algorithms and information structures, computer architecture and operating systems.

Degree Options

Requirements for the Master's degree may be met through one of two options, which should be discussed with an advisor. The thesis option (Option I) is intended for students who wish to pursue a career in research or who are planning further graduate study. The project option (Option III) is generally recommended for students who plan on the MS being a terminal degree. Both thesis and project option students will work with a supervisory committee of three faculty members who will oversee the work and review the student's final report. A final oral exam is required of all students.

Breadth Requirement

To satisfy the breadth requirements each student must take at least two courses (6 credit hours) in each of the three tracks - Theory; Systems; Applications. See the track listing for detailed information.

Additionally, the student must attend at least 15 departmental colloquia, doctoral oral presentations, and/or master's thesis presentations during the M.S. program. A sign-up sheet is used during these events as proof of attendance. Note that master's project presentations may not be used to fulfill this requirement.

Depth Requirement

To satisfy the depth requirement, the student must take Thesis or Project credit hours plus the 900-level courses required for the option (see below) chosen. CSCE 896, CSCE 897, CSCE 898, CSCE 899, CSCE 996 courses taken as independent study courses usually count only towards the depth requirements. When CSCE 896 and 990 are taken as regular courses the student's supervisory committee may, if deemed appropriate, assign them to a track and they can be counted in the breadth requirements.

The total number of independent study type courses (CSCE 896, CSCE 897, CSCE 898, CSCE 899, and CSCE 996) counted toward the program may not exceed 9 credit hours. When CSCE 896 and 990 are taken as regular courses, they are not counted toward the 9-hour limit.

Thesis Option (Option I)

The requirements for this option may be satisfied by taking a total of 24 credit hours of regular courses. In addition, the student must complete a thesis under the supervision of a graduate faculty member in the department. The thesis (CSCE 899) contributes another 6 credit hours for a total of 30 credit hours. The student is also required to take at least 9 credit hours of advanced courses (900-level) in Computer Science.

A typical plan for this option consists of 9 credit hours of regular courses for each of the first two semesters, 6 credit hours of courses and an independent study (or research other than thesis) in the third semester and 6 credit hours of thesis in the final semester; however, the student should determine an exact program in consultation with the supervisory committee.

The supervisory committee for a student working on a thesis consists of three computer science faculty members approved by the graduate committee. The names of the committee members are suggested by the student in consultation with his/her advisor.

Thesis Option Requirements:
  • 24 credit hours of regular courses
  • A thesis (6 additional credit hours)
  • Total = 30 credit hours (at least 9 of which must be 900 level courses in Computer Science)

Project Option (Option III)

The requirements for this option may satisfied by taking a total of 36 credit hours. The program must include at least 3 credit hours, but no more than 6 credit hours of CSCE 897 (Masters Project). This course cannot be taken with the P/N option. The student must also complete a project under the supervision of a graduate faculty member in the department. The project (CSCE 897) contributes 3-6 of the 36 credit hours. The student is also required to take at least 12 credit hours of advanced courses (900-level) in Computer Science if a 6-hour MS project is presented and at least 15 credit hours if a 3-hour MS project is presented.

A typical plan for this option consists of 9 credit hours of regular courses for each of the first three semesters, and 3 (or 6) credit hours of courses and 6 (or 3) credit hours of project in the final semester.

The supervisory committee for a student working on a project consists of three computer science faculty members approved by the Computer Science Graduate Committee. The names of the committee members are suggested by the student in consultation with his/her advisor.

Project Option Requirements:
  • 30-33 credit hours of regular courses
  • A project (3-6 additional credit hours)
  • Total = 36 credit hours (12-15 hours must be 900-level courses in Computer Science)

Memorandum of Courses

The program of study is formally established by filing a “Memorandum of Courses” with the Office of Graduate Studies. The memorandum must be filed before the student has received grades in more than one-half of the prescribed program, in most cases this is before the end of the student's second semester in the MS program. The memorandum must be signed by the Advisor and submitted to the Graduate Secretary. It is then signed by the Graduate Chair, and finally by the Dean of Graduate Studies. The memorandum cannot be filed until the student has cleared all the deficiency courses listed in his or her Certificate of Admission.

Thesis/Project Report

All students must complete either a thesis or a project under the supervision of a member of the graduate faculty. It is expected that the work done in a thesis has some original research contribution. While it is not required that the work done in a project has some amount of original research contribution, it is expected that the work be of good quality.

The student is required to write the thesis or a project report in a standard style (Use the “Guidebook for Preparing your Thesis or Dissertation” available from the Office of Graduate Studies.) LaTeX templates are also available on the departmental computers.

Following the review by the advisor, copies of the thesis or the project report are given to the members of the supervisory committee. The student must give a copy to each committee member at least two weeks before the final oral examination. Students working on a thesis must also submit a copy to the Graduate Studies Office at least two weeks prior to the date of the oral examination.

Final Oral Examination

A final oral examination is required for all students. The student must file a “Final Examination Report for Master's Degree” form at least four weeks before the required oral examination in their last semester of study. The oral examination will be scheduled for two hours and consist of a defense of the thesis or the project. The presentation is open to the public and the student is required to give an abstract (electronic copy) to the office to be used for advertising. After the public presentation and a question-and-answer period, the remainder of the examination is conducted privately by the supervisory committee. The examination is based on the thesis/project and other course work.

The supervisory committee may require the student to do additional work and the advisor is generally responsible for making sure that the work is completed. The advisor decides on the grade of the MS Thesis/Project.

Final Report

The student is expected to make the changes recommended by the supervisory committee and prepare a final copy of the thesis/report. The student is required to give a hard-bound copy to the advisor as well as the departmental office. It is also customary to offer each member of the supervisory committee a copy of the final report. Students doing a thesis must also submit two unbound copies to the Library.