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CS Graduate (M.S.)

Program Information

The Master of Science in Computer Science prepares graduate students for positions in the design and development of computer systems and applications in business and industry and for scientific positions in industrial or academic computing research. Areas of research interest within the department currently include:

  • Software engineering
  • Medical image processing
  • Parallel processing
  • Applied computing
  • GIS
  • Computer security
  • Cluster computing
  • Computer networks

Program Objectives

The CS graduate program objectives equip individuals to:    

  • Discover and disseminate knowledge relevant to the discipline of computer science.   
  • Provide leadership for increasingly complex roles in computer science and industry.   
  • Contribute to the advancement of the science of computer science serving regional and national needs.

The department also offers a five-year B.S/M.S degree.

Placement Exam

A Course Placement Exam may be given to incoming students.

The MS-CSC Program evaluates the candidate's transcript(s) and makes the decision of which prerequisite courses the new incoming graduate student must take. These courses assure students posses the fundamental knowledge of Computer Science fields and upper level work. See the list of prerequisites below. 

  • CSc 317 - Computer Organization and Architecture
  • CSc 354 - Introduction to Systems Programming
  • CSc 445 - Introduction to the Theory of Computation
  • CSc 446 - Compiler Construction
  • CSc 456 - Operating Systems

The MS-CSC Program will provide a course placement examination for each prerequisite course if a student strongly disagrees with the MS-CSC Program's decision. The placement policy based on the examination follows:

  • 80% or above, prerequisite course is waived.
  • 70% to 79%, prerequisite course is required.
  • 69% or below, remedial coursework from the undergraduate curriculum is required.

If a student requests this exam, it is administered anytime within the first month of his/her first semester.

Graduate Courses

Once enrolled in the program, students will select from the following courses. For more information on our MS Program and core courses, see the Graduate Catalog

  • CSc 522 - GUI Programming
  • CSc 533 - Computer Graphics
  • CSc 547 - Artificial Intelligence
  • CSc 550 - Game Programming
  • CSc 574 - Computer Networks
  • CSc 592 - Topics
  • CSc 601 - Accelerated Computer Science Fundamentals
  • CSc 630 - Principles of Data Base System Design
  • CSc 740 - Management of Information Systems
  • CSc 750 - Recent Advances in Parallel Process
  • CSc 790 - Seminar
  • CSc 791 - Independent Study
  • CSc 792 - Topics


Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs)

Assistantships are very competitive and require excellent all-around records. The department usually does not offer GTAs for an incoming student for the first semester. Our graduate students can have a GTA position in the department, as well as another department on campus.  The number of GRA positions varies for every academic year. 

Funded Projects

Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) are available in many areas. These assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis. The assistantships can provide the graduate student with a significant reduction in tuition costs.

Core Requirements for the MS degree in Computer Science

  1. Option A: Total 30 credit hours (24 course work credit hours and CSC 798 thesis credit hours) or
    Option B: Total 32 credit hours (30 course work credit hours and CSC 788 credit hours) or
    Option C: Total 36 credit hours (36 course work credit hours)
  2. Submit “Plan of Study” no later than the end of the first semesterThe form is available on the Graduate School Forms page.
  3. Comprehensive Exam See detail in Comprehensive Exam section.
  4. Preliminary Presentation of a Thesis before the committee members at least three months (a design paper at least two months) prior to the final oral exam.
  5. Final Oral Exam – Submit the completed Thesis or the Design Paper at least 10 working days prior to the final oral exam. See details in Final Oral Exam Section.
  6. Consult the Master’s Degree Checklist

Comprehensive Written Exam Requirements

(This is the current version as of March 2, 2022)

  • All CS graduate candidates must pass a comprehensive written examination. The comprehensive written examination is offered twice during each academic year, usually during the third week of both the fall and spring semesters. The four graduate core courses (listed above in the Graduate Courses section) are the subjects of the comprehensive written examination.  However, there may be circumstances in which the CS graduate committee may modify the subjects of the comprehensive written exam.  In addition to two more elective courses for the option C. These two elective courses must be Computer Science courses offered through SDSU, and they must be chosen and approved by his / her graduate committee.
  • CS graduate students can take the comprehensive exam up to three times as long as they have an average score of 50 or higher in the comprehensive exam and a minimum score of 40 in each of the core course exams. If at any time the student's scores fall below these criteria, this will result in a deficiency of the Comprehensive Written Exam.  The student in a deficiency will lose their remaining opportunities to retake the comprehensive exam.  In this deficiency circumstance, the student can have only one remediation opportunity based on the Graduate School policy (listed in Policy 2:26 page 5-6).  Since this is the last guaranteed attempt of the comprehensive written exam, the CS graduate committee will provide resources to address those deficiencies, and the student must pass all four courses of the remedial comprehensive written exam by the end of the current semester.  If the student fails this remediation exam, the EECS department will submit the recommendation of your dismissal from the MSCS program to the Graduate School.
  • CS graduate students must take all four core courses in the first attempt.  After the first attempt of the comprehensive exam, the student can take a partial comprehensive exam for the failed course exam(s).  The student must retake all the failed course exam(s).
  • If a student submits an application to take the comprehensive exam, that application will be counted as one of their three opportunities.

Final Oral Exam Requirements

The final oral exam is required for the option A, option B and option C students. It is scheduled for approximately two hours. The first part of the exam includes the candidate’s thesis or design paper defense, and the second part of the exam is based on the candidate’s course work for the options A and B. The two hours of final oral exam is based on the candidate’s course works on the plan of study for the option C.