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Master's Degree in Computer Science

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering offers the Master of Science degree in Computer Science after completion of the following degree requirements.  For information about the MS in Computer Engineering program, please check the CEN website.

Course Requirements

48 quarter units of graduate or upper-division undergraduate courses are required. Students who have completed similar courses elsewhere may petition for a waiver of a required course or for substitution of an alternative course. For students interested in interdisciplinary research, individual study programs can be approved

Professional Development Requirement

MS students must satisfactorily complete one of the following courses: one quarter of CS 287, GDIV 301, GDIV 403 or at least one unit of CS 298I. Other professional development courses may be used to satisfy this requirement if approved by the graduate advisor.


The normative time for the completion of a M.S. in Computer Science is two years.

Capstone Experience

All students must complete a capstone experience that synthesizes and integrates the knowledge and skills obtained throughout the master’s program, by either passing a comprehensive exam, writing a thesis, or completing a project. The Comprehensive Examination Option is the default option. If a student chooses the project or thesis option, it is the responsibility of the student to find a faculty member willing to supervise the master’s project or thesis, to form the faculty examining committee, and to schedule the oral presentation.

Comprehensive Exam Option - Students must pass a comprehensive examination administered by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Project Option -  Students must complete a research project under the guidance of a faculty member. The project will be approved by a committee of at least two faculty members and requires a presentation and written report

Thesis Option - Students must submit a master’s thesis in accordance with the general requirements of the university. The thesis is original research work, and it should demonstrate the student’s ability to study a research area, identify an open problem, and make a research contribution. The thesis requires a presentation and must be approved by a committee of at least three faculty members.

Core Requirements (8 units)

Choose one course from two of the three Core Areas, with no grade lower than B-

Breadth Requirement (8 units)

Two approved breadth courses chosen in such a way that together the core and breadth courses cover four different Major Specialty Areas (A to G)

Electives (32 units)

Students have the option of completing their degree by taking a comprehensive exam, writing a thesis, or completing a project.

Comprehensive Exam Option Electives

The 32 elective units must include at least 16 units of approved graduate lecture courses. The remaining 16 units may include additional approved graduate lecture courses, up to 8 units of graduate seminars in CS 260–269, and up to 12 units of approved undergraduate technical electives. Research units (CS 297 or CS 299) may not be used to satisfy any course requirements under this option.

Project Option Electives

The project option may include up to 4 units of Directed Research (CS 297) towards the elective requirement. Of the remaining 28 units, at least 12 units must be approved graduate lecture courses. The remaining 16 units may include additional approved graduate lecture courses, up to 8 units of graduate seminars in CS 260–269, and up to 12 units of approved undergraduate technical electives.

Thesis Option Electives

The thesis option may include up to 12 units of graduate research (CS 297 or CS 299) towards the elective unit requirement. Of the remaining 20 units, at least 4 units must be approved graduate lecture courses. The remaining 16 units may include additional approved graduate lecture courses, up to 8 units of graduate seminars in CS 260–269, and up to 8 units of approved undergraduate technical electives.