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CS Graduate - MS

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 5 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

Assistantships

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 usually have a GTA position in the department, as well as another department on campus. Historically, over 75% of our graduate students received a GTA position by the beginning of their second semester.

Selection Procedure for Graduate Lab Assistant

  1. The student who has worked for a given semester, will have the first priority to be hired for their next semester provided they maintain a 3.0 for the last semester or 3.25 GPA overall.
  2. Candidates must have an adequate level of English communication skill and proper computer training. The candidate must be capable of handling the following job duties:
    • Assist students in the lab
    • Grade homework for lower level computer science courses
    • Monitor the computer science lab facilities
  3. Candidate must have been in the computer science discipline for at least one year.
  4. Candidate's GPA must be 3.0 or above when first appointed.
  5. Candidate must have taken at least two SDSU computer science courses, and must be enrolled in the computer science graduate program and one of the courses must be a graduate level course (600 or above).
  6. The Computer Science MS Program will not consider any student who has been involved in academic dishonesty, e.g., cheating on quizzes, tests or examinations, plagiarism, duplicate work of homework assignments, etc.
  7. The selection procedures include:
    • Screen candidate(s) on the basic requirements listed above
    • Candidate's GPA
    • Committee members' recommendation
  8. At the time of appointment, graduate assistants will be given a set of rules and responsibilities. Violation of these rules and responsibilities will not be tolerated and may lead to termination of employment.
  9. All new graduate assistants will have a one-semester probation period during which they will be evaluated.
  10. If a qualified pool of candidates is insufficient to cover openings, student(s) in the first year will be considered based on number of credits/semesters.

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 semester–The 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 3 months (a design paper at least 2 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 1-29-16)

  • 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, in addition to two more elective courses for the option C.
  • 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 or higher in each of the core course exams. If at any time the students’ scores fall below these criteria, the student loses the option of retaking the exam.
  • If a student submits an application to take the comprehensive exam, that application will be counted as one of their three opportunities.
  • This rule will NOT be applied to the first attempt of the comprehensive exam.  After the second attempt of the comprehensive exam, the student can take a partial comprehensive exam (only one or two courses of the four core courses and only one course of the two elective courses for the Option C) for the third (last) attempt.
      • If the student passes three courses and fails one course of the four core courses, the student
        may take only the failed course for the third (last) attempt.
      • If the student passes two courses of the four core courses, one marginal, and one fail, the
        student must take only the marginal course and failed course for the third (last) attempt.
      • If the student passes one course of the two elective courses for the Option C, one marginal, or
        one fail, the student must take only the marginal course or failed course for the third (last)
        attempt.
  • The minimum qualification to take the partial comprehensive exam for the third (last) attempt will be that the student must pass two courses and one marginal pass for the four core courses for the Options A and B, and the student must pass one course and one marginal pass or fail of the two elective courses for the Options A and B.

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.