Computer Science

Program FAQ

1. When can I apply to the program?

Currently, The MS in Computer Science accepts applications for fall admission only. See the Graduate Studies Website for the application deadline.

2. What are the prerequisites for admission?

Currently conditionally classified status is required. This means that the prerequisites for Conditionally Classified status must be satisfied before admission.

Additional information on Prerequisites and Advancement.

3. Are there other requirements for admission to the Computer Science Master's Program?

Currently the requirements include those of the Office of Graduate Programs and the following:

  • At least conditionally classified status
  • GPA must be 3.0 in the last 30 semester units attempted and 2.75 in the last 60 units attempted.
  • All graduate and post baccalaureate applicants, regardless of citizenship, whose native language is not English, must demonstrate English language proficiency. Please refer to the 

     Office of Graduate Studies for more information.
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose or Intent

4. I do not satisfy conditionally classified status. What can I do?

Courses to satisfy classified status can be taken

  • Through a regionally accredited university
  • Through Community Colleges (for lower division requirements)

5. How am I sure that the course I take above will count?

If the course is from a Community College in California, you can use in new window) to help you articulate your course(s). Before taking a course from another accredited university, contact the Graduate Coordinator at and ask. The coordinator will require the catalog copy and a syllabus of the course to see if it is equivalent to the required course. When you apply to the program, the coordinator uses your transcripts and this information to determine your status.

6. Once I am accepted, can I transfer credits from another institution?

You can transfer up to 9 semester units as long as the credits are

  • In computer science
  • Not used for the completion of another degree
  • From regionally accredited universities and
  • Graduate level work

Within this 9 unit maximum, you can transfer up to 6 semester units from computer-related disciplines.

7. Can I chose a project/thesis rather than the CSCI 693 Research Course?  If I want to do a project/thesis how do I get a committee?

The CSCI 693 research course will be the most typical choice for a culminating research experience for most MS students.  

An MS student can do a project or thesis, but only by the recommendation or invitation of a faculty member willing to serve as their committee chair.  Faculty members typically must know that a student is capable and interested in their areas of research before they will agree to be on a committee.  It is recommended that a student ask faculty members to serve on your committee after having taken a course from them or expressing interest in a research area of that faculty member.  Faculty require these steps be followed:

  1. Pass the Graduate Writing Requirement or equivalent course
  2. Write a good proposal
  3. Present the proposal to the faculty you would like to serve on your committee

Make sure that you give the faculty plenty of time to read the proposal and get back to you as to whether they agree to serve on your committee. Writing proposals and projects should not be "last minute", hurried endeavors. Often faculty require (1) that the proposal is very well written and the project outline is clear and (2) that you have taken some courses with them. If a faculty member sees the need for a lot of editing in the proposal, they probably are not going to be easy to convince to serve on your committee.

8. Who can serve on a Master's Committee?

The committee chair must be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the Department of Computer Science. The second committee member must also be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the Department of Computer Science. A third committee member may be from a related discipline, depending on the project content. In the later case, the third committee member must be approved by the graduate committee chair and the graduate coordinator. Two committee members are required (a chair and a member), but three are allowed (a chair and two members). For more specifics, see the Guide to Graduate Studies.

9. What is the Graduate Writing Requirement?

The Department offers a Graduate Writing Exam at the beginning of each semester. A student can take this exam only once. If the Exam is passed, then they have met the Graduate Writing Requirement. If the student fails the exam then the student must take the appropriate writing course identified by the Department and pass with a grade of C or better to pass the Graduate Writing Requirement. See the Important Dates page for dates when the test is offered.

10. How can I get help in passing this test?

Writing tutors are available in the Student Learning Center, located in the Student Services Center, room 340.

11. Is there a time limit to the program?

Yes. A student must finish all requirements of the entire program within 5 years. No extensions will be granted.

12. Do I lose my catalog rights if I fail to maintain continuous enrollment?

Yes. You will be required to follow the catalog in effect at the time you resume enrollment.

13. What must I do for my letters of recommendation?

You must have your recommender fill out otherwise we will not be able to accept the letter.

Access Waiver Form (PDF)