M.S. Degree Program
Master of Science
The Master of Science degree in Computer Science provides students with an educational and research environment to develop career paths through necessary training with emerging technologies. Graduates have the technical knowledge and skills necessary for success within the information and high technology industries. Students who are seeking academic careers or positions in research and development may choose to complete a thesis instead of selecting a concentration.
The Master of Science (M.S.) program requires a total of 32 graduate-level credit hours in Computer Science. Of the 32 required credit hours, 12 credit hours require breadth in computer science, and 18 credit hours provide electives and options for a thesis or concentration. In general, the degree requires four semesters to complete as shown in this timeline.
The formal program requirements are listed in the University Catalog, but in summary, students must complete 32 credit hours of Computer Science graduate courses, with at most 12 credit hours at the 50000 level. The 32 credits required include 2 credit hours of CS 69191 Master's Seminar, 6 credit hours of culminating requirement from capstone, internship, or thesis (for Thesis Option), and l2 credit hours that must consist of one course each from 4 of the 5 breadth categories. The remaining 12 credit hours may be used to select the Thesis Option, the Non-Thesis Option, or one of three optional concentrations: Computational Data Science, Computer Engineering, and Computer Security.
Master of Science Non-Thesis Option
The Non-Thesis Option is available for students who do not plan to complete a Ph.D. in Computer Science and, instead, are pursuing a professional career that does not involve research and desire an individualized plan of study.
Candidates for the Master of Science with a non-thesis option must successfully complete 32 credit hours of graduate courses including 2 credit hours of Master's Seminar (CS 69191) and 6 credit hours of Capstone Project (CS69099) and/or internship (CS69192). Of the remaining 24 credit hours, at least 12 credit hours must be at the 60000 level or above, and only 12 credit hours may be at the 50000 level. The Master of Science (non-thesis option) is available to students who do not plan to complete a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science and are pursuing a professional career that does not involve research. It is strongly recommended that students who plan to matriculate to the Ph.D. program take the thesis option track.
To fulfill the degree requirement, candidates for the Master of Science (non-thesis option) degree must make a public presentation of project work. The presentation will take place either in a Master’s Seminar, in a graduate course requiring project presentations, or the presentation is made to a Master’s Project Examination Committee that includes the advisor and at least one other graduate faculty member. If the presentation is made in the Master’s Seminar, the Master’s Seminar Presentation Form must be filled out and submitted to CS Graduate Office. In all other cases, the Master’s Project Presentation Approval Form needs to be filled out and submitted to CS Graduate Office.
Master of Science Thesis Option
Candidates for the Master of Science with a thesis option must successfully complete 24 credit hours of graduate courses in CS, of which at least 10 credit hours must be at the 60000-level, and only 12 credit hours can be at the 50000-level. In addition, 2 credit hours of Master's Seminar (CS 69191) are required. Only 3 total credit hours of Research (CS 69098) may be counted toward the degree, however, students are permitted to take this course multiple times. Students must write and defend a Master's thesis for which 6 credit hours are earned in Thesis I (CS 69199) and Thesis II (CS 69299).
Candidates for the Master of Science degree with a thesis option must write and defend a suitable master's thesis for which 6 credit hours are earned in CS 69199 Thesis I. A Master's thesis committee must be formed that includes the advisor and at least two other graduate faculty members. The thesis topic and committee must be approved by the advisor and graduate coordinator. The final version of the thesis must be approved by the advisor, committee, and graduate coordinator.
The student must develop a Master’s Plan of Work that is approved by the advisor and Graduate Coordinator. The Plan of Work must ensure that the student completes one course each from 4 of the 5 categories. The Plan of Work must be filled out and submitted to the Graduate Coordinator within one year of entrance to the program, but can later be modified with approval from the advisor and Graduate Coordinator.
Students will have the option to change tracks only once prior to the last semester of their residency in the program, provided they fulfill all the requirements for that option. Students who take research courses cannot transfer them to the non-thesis option track. Students who fail one option cannot use the alternative option for graduation.
All students writing a thesis are required to file a Notification of Approved Thesis Topic form, which is to be signed by members of the Thesis Committee, the CS Graduate Coordinator, and the Department Chair, and then submitted to the Division of Research and Graduate Studies.
Although a detailed thesis prospectus is not required, a paragraph should be attached to the thesis topic form that includes a clear statement of the problem to be undertaken and the procedure or methodology to be used in the research.
The CS Graduate Coordinator, in consultation with the CS Graduate Studies Committee as necessary, will review the composition of the proposed committee for appropriate balance, and the topic for strength and suitability as a Master's topic.
This committee is composed of graduate faculty members and is appointed by the CS Graduate Coordinator, in consultation with the CS Graduate Studies Committee as necessary, when the candidate has developed an appropriate thesis topic and has an approved advisor. This committee will consist of a minimum of:
- The advisor, who will act as Chairman of the Committee
- Two additional members from the candidate's department.
The advisor and at least two of the remaining three must be members of the Graduate Faculty who have been approved to direct theses. If a co-advisor is desired, he or she should be included in the above members. If for warranted reasons, it is desirous to have a person on the committee who does not meet the above qualifications, special permission must be obtained from the Division of the Research and Graduate Studies.
Responsibilities of the Thesis Committee: This committee is responsible for the progress of the candidate's thesis and will keep in touch with his or her research. When the advisor believes the thesis is ready for preliminary approval, it will be circulated among the members of the Committee.
Thesis Final Examination
The Thesis Advisor will act as the Moderator at the Oral Defense. His or her duties are to preside and moderate the exam. He or she should see to it that all participants act in a civilized, polite, and proper manner. He or she should be familiar with the procedures of the Oral Defense, and he or she has the authority to suspend the examination should a situation arise which would not be conducive to a fair examination.
Thesis Oral Defense
- The Advisor will designate the time and place of the Final Oral Defense and notify all members of the Thesis Committee. The Oral Defense is open to any member of the University wishing to attend, and therefore, a facility adequate to meet this requirement should be provided. The Oral Defense should be scheduled to allow a minimum of ten days for all of the Thesis Committee to look over the thesis. In the absence of the Thesis Advisor, the Oral Defense may not be held. If it is a matter of long-term absence or enduring illness of the Advisor, the Chairperson of the department, in consultation with the appropriate administrator, should make appropriate arrangements for a substitute.
- The Final Oral Defense will be open to the University community. Notification of the time and place of the Oral Defense should be provided to the CS Graduate Secretary so that it may be announced in a suitable venue. Copies of the abstract of the thesis should also be provided to the CS Graduate Secretary, and be available in the candidate's department prior to the Oral Defense to familiarize members of the Graduate Faculty with the methodology and findings.
- The candidate will open the Oral Defense with a brief presentation of his or her findings, after which the members of the Thesis Committee will question the candidate in an order to be determined by the Advisor. When, in the opinion of the Advisor, members of the Thesis Committee have had an adequate opportunity to question the candidate, the Advisor may open the examination to appropriate questions from others present.
- Questions dealing with the substance, meaning, and usefulness of the research in the thesis are of greatest propriety. Questions or comments dealing with matriculation or grammatical minutiae, spelling, etc., are out of order; such comments should be written out and privately submitted to the Advisor.
- If in the opinion of the Advisor or upon motion duly passed by a majority of the Committee, it is deemed desirable to discontinue the Oral Defense, the Advisor may recess the Oral Defense until a time mutually agreeable to the Advisor, the candidate, and the Thesis Committee.
- When the questioning has run its course, the Advisor will adjourn the Oral Defense and the room will be cleared of everyone except the members of the Thesis Committee. Parliamentary procedure will be observed to determine the success or failure of the candidate, with the Advisor acting as chairman.
- The candidate should be evaluated both (a) upon the overall quality and significance of his or her thesis, and (b) upon the oral defense of his or her findings. A candidate passes the Oral Defense if he or she passes with no more than one dissenting vote.
- All members of the Thesis Committee will sign the Report of Final Examination form, recording their votes. Committee members may vote "yes" or "no", but they may not abstain.
The Advisor and Department Chairperson must sign the "Report of Final Examination" form, which is then forwarded to the Division of Research and Graduate Studies with a copy given to the CS Graduate Coordinator.
Style Guidelines for Thesis and Dissertations
Style Guide and Instructions for Preparing Dissertation and Theses for Electronic Submission are available from Graduate Affairs of the College of Arts & Sciences. In addition, the ACM Publications Guidelines and IEEE Author Digital Tools may be of help for students in their first effort in technical writing.