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Master's and Ph.D. Degrees in Computer Science Request More Information

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering offers the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science. General requirements are listed in the Graduate Studies section of this catalog. The general requirements overview for each degree are described below; please refer to the official program requirements in the UCR Catalog.

Admission - All applicants must supply GRE General Test scores. The GRE subject test in Computer Science is recommended but not required. Applicants should have at least an undergraduate degree in computer science or a closely related field, but applicants who fail to meet this criterion may sometimes be admitted with deficiencies.

Prerequisite Material - Competence in the areas defined by the following UCR courses is essential to graduate study in computer science:

  • CS 141, CS 150, CS 152, CS 153, CS 161/161L

A student who is deficient in any of these competency areas may be asked to complete the corresponding UCR course with a letter grade of at least B+, or to pass a challenge examination based on that course’s final exam with a grade of at least B+. All such remedial work should be completed within the first year of graduate study, and in all cases the deficiency must be corrected BEFORE a student can enroll in any graduate course from the same specialty area.

Core Areas - Students have considerable flexibility in selecting specialty area(s) within the program. However, the following core areas introduce fundamental concepts and tools of general interest to all students.

  • Hardware design principles: CS 203A or CS 220.
  • Theoretical foundations: CS 215 or CS 218.
  • Software and systems: CS 201 or CS 202.

Major Specialty Areas - The department has active research programs in the following major specialty areas: Algorithms, Bioinformatics, and Theory of Computation; Computer Architecture, Embedded Systems, and CAD; Databases, Data Mining, and Machine Learning; Operating Systems and Distributed Systems; Computer Networks; Programming Languages, Compilers, and Software Engineering; Computer Graphics and Human-Computer Interaction. A list of related graduate courses is provided for each area. Courses that qualify for the M.S. Breadth Requirement are marked with an asterisk (*). Please refer to the UCR catalog for specific requirements.

Master’s Degree

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering offers the M.S. degree in Computer Science, after completion of the following degree requirements:

Satisfactory completion of CS 287 (Colloquium in Computer Science) each quarter of enrollment.

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.

  1. Core Requirement (8 units). Choose one course from two of the three Core Areas listed above, with no grade lower than B-.
  2. 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).
  3. Electives (32 units)
    1. Project Option. A student pursuing the M.S. degree, non-thesis option, may include up to 4 units of Directed Research (CS 297) towards the elective unit 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.
    2. Thesis Option. A student pursuing the M.S. degree, thesis option, may include up to 12 units of graduate research (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.

Capstone Experience - All students must complete a capstone experience that synthesizes and integrates the knowledge and skills obtained throughout the master’s program, according to one of the following options. 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 examination.

  1. Project Option. Students must complete a research project under the guidance of a faculty member. This project will require a written report and will be presented to a committee of at least two faculty members in an oral examination. (A copy of the report must be submitted to the Graduate Division.)
  2. 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 must be presented to and approved by a committee of at least three faculty members.

The normative time for the completion of a M.S. in CS is 2 years.

 

Doctoral Degree

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering offers the Ph.D. degree in Computer Science, after completion of the following degree requirements. It provides a research-oriented education in preparation for a career in research, industry, or academia and exploring both the fundamental aspects of computer science and engineering as well as their applications.

Satisfactory completion of CS 287 (Colloquium in Computer Science) each quarter of enrollment.

Course Work - The course requirements for the PhD degree ensure that PhD students are exposed to fundamental concepts and tools (core requirement), a deep up-to-date view of their research specialty area (depth requirement), and an advanced, up-to-date view of the some topics outside their area (breadth requirement). Students are expected to complete all of these course requirements in the first two years of the program. These requirements consist of 44 quarter units of approved graduate or upper-division undergraduate courses, satisfying all four of the following course work categories. All of these courses must be taken for a letter grade, and no course can be counted towards more than one category. Students who have completed similar courses elsewhere may petition for a waiver of a required course or for substitution of an alternative course.

      1. Core Requirement (12 units). Choose three courses from at least two of the three Core Areas described above, with no grade lower than B- and an overall core course GPA of at least 3.2,
      2. Depth Requirement (8 units). Choose two courses listed above under the same Major Area (A to G),. This requirement ensures that PhD students, early on in their careers, acquire some depth of knowledge in a particular research area.
      3. Breadth Requirement (12 units). Choose three courses from at least two different Major Areas (A to G) outside the student's depth area. No course that is listed in the student's depth area can be used to fulfill the breadth requirement, even if it is cross-listed in another area. Students, with the consent of the major professor, may petition for a non-CSE course to be counted towards the breadth requirement.
      4. Electives (12 units). The remaining courses can be selected from additional CS graduate lecture courses, up to 8 units of graduate seminars in CS 260-269, and up to 8 units of approved undergraduate technical electives. Students, with the consent of the major professor, may petition for a non-CSE course to be counted as an elective.
      5. Please refer to the UCR catalog for specific requirements.

Milestones - The Department has established three milestones to mark progress towards the PhD degree in Computer Science: advancement to candidacy, presentation of the dissertation proposal, and final oral examination. A PhD student must also satisfy all applicable Graduate Division requirements for each milestone.

Milestone I: Advancement to Candidacy. A student advances to candidacy after he/she has completed all the PhD course requirements described above, and passed both the qualifying examinations described below. The exams are intended to verify three components of the student's preparation for PhD research: (1) breadth of comprehension sufficient to enable Computer Science research in areas beyond the topic(s) of the research exam and dissertation; (2) ability to perform critical study, analysis and writing in a focused area; and (3) demonstrated research experience or ability to do research. After advancing to candidacy, the student must form a Doctoral Examination Committee chaired by his or her major professor. Please refer to the CS Graduate Handbook for detailed information.

Milestone II: Dissertation Proposal Examination. After advancement to candidacy, the student prepares a dissertation proposal that describes the dissertation topic, summarizes the relevant background literature, and presents a comprehensive research plan for the doctoral dissertation. The Dissertation Proposal Examination evaluates the appropriateness of the research topic and the feasibility of the research plan. It also establishes a realistic timeline for the completion of the Dissertation. The Dissertation Committee administers this exam. The normative time for the Dissertation Proposal Exam is by the end of the third year. The Dissertation Proposal exam must be taken at least six months prior to the Final Doctoral Examination.

Milestone III: Final Doctoral Examination. The student is required to write a dissertation in accordance with the Graduate Division requirements and may be required to defend it in a public oral final doctoral examination to the Dissertation Committee (4 members). After a satisfactory performance on the final doctoral examination, the Dissertation Committee recommends granting the PhD degree. The student’s research and the dissertation must both meet the highest standards of originality and scholarship. The normative time for the completion of a Ph.D. in CS is five years.


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