Master of Science in Computer Science

Procedures & Requirements for Graduation

The course requirements are outlined on the following page: Program Info

Degree Requirements

Candidates for a master's degree are normally required to satisfy a residency requirement of at least two semesters of full-time graduate study or the equivalent on a part-time basis. Each student must have a graduate advisor to direct his/her pursuit of the M.S. degree. With the aid of the graduate advisor, the student must choose an M.S. Advisory Committee and complete a Plan of Study which specifies the courses to be taken and the option, Plan I (thesis) or Plan II (non-thesis). In either case, Plan I or Plan II, the student is required to pass a final oral examination that covers work presented for the degree. These requirements are now described in detail.

Advisory Committee

Each new student will initially interact with a computer science graduate advisor. This will usually be the Chairman of the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC).

As early as possible in the M.S. program, the student must select a computer science graduate faculty member to serve as academic advisor, research director, and chairman of the student's M.S. Advisory Committee. In conjunction with this advisor, the student must invite at least two other graduate faculty members to serve as M.S. Advisory Committee members. The M.S. Advisory Committee will provide any necessary direction to the student as well as be responsible for approving the Plan of Study and administering the final oral examination.

Plan of Study

The student, in consultation with his/her major advisor, must complete a Plan of Study consisting of at least 30 semester hours. The Plan of Study must be submitted prior to the completion of 12 semester hours of graduate work. This document specifies the courses and options chosen by the student and must be approved by the student's M.S. Advisory Committee and the Chairman of the GSC. With M.S. Advisory Committee approval, this Plan of Study may be changed during the course of the student's graduate program.

In order to insure that the graduate of the M.S. program will have acquired a sufficient breadth of knowledge in computer science, the following three courses or their equivalents are required if they were not previously taken as an undergraduate:

  • CS 5500 Operating Systems I
  • CS 5700 Computability, Automata and Formal Languages
  • CS 5720 Design and Analysis of Algorithms

The entrance requirements coupled with these three courses insure that the graduate of the M.S. program will have acquired a sufficient breadth of knowledge in computer science. Students who have had advanced undergraduate courses in these exact areas will not be allowed to take these courses for graduate credit, but instead are required to include other graduate level computer science courses in their Plan of Study.

The Plan of Study must also satisfy a depth enhancement requirement. To satisfy this requirement the graduate student's Plan of Study can include no more than four computer science courses that are cross-listed with 4000 level computer science courses. This requirement prevents students from taking all introductory level graduate courses and insures that all graduates of the program will have acquired depth in at least one sub field of computer science.

The remaining courses in the Plan of Study are electives. The number of courses will depend on whether Plan I or Plan II is chosen. Plan I requires a thesis worth from 4 to 6 semester hours of credit. Plan II requires a project worth 3 semester hours of credit. Up to 6 hours of graduate level courses may be taken in other departments. The student?s Advisory Committee must approve such courses before they are taken. Any course, which is cross-listed with computer science, is considered a computer science course, regardless of the department in which the student actually registers. The student must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 or be subject to being placed on probation or denied the privilege of continued enrollment as a graduate student in the University.

A graduate student who has hours to transfer should complete a Transfer of Credit form, which is available from the Computer Science Department office. This form must be given to the student's advisor for his or her signature and further processing. There are two types of courses eligible for transfer: 1) graduate courses in computer science, taken at another institution and not applied towards another degree and 2) graduate courses in computer science taken at UCCS while the student had unclassified status. The total number of credits to be transferred cannot exceed nine hours. Only courses in which a grade of B or higher was earned can be transferred.

Thesis (Plan I)

Students who intend to write an M.S. thesis should develop a thesis proposal in conjunction with their major advisor that outlines the topics, scope, and objectives of the proposed thesis. The thesis topic will normally be in a common interest area to both the student and the thesis advisor. The thesis proposal should be discussed with and approved by the student's M.S. Advisory Committee before the student begins the research and writing of the thesis. A signed copy of the proposal must be placed in the student's permanent file.

The thesis should represent the best writing possible by the student and is not to be written or extensively edited by the student's major advisor. Original research work is praised though not necessary. Implementation and survey type theses are acceptable as is quality work related to the student's professional activities. However, the work must be accomplished while the student is enrolled in the master's program. The thesis is intended to furnish objective evidence of the student's ability to use independently and constructively the information, skills, and powers acquired in his/her graduate work. Students should begin writing their thesis early so there will be sufficient time for evaluation by the thesis advisor and rewriting by the student.

In mechanical features, all theses must comply with the specifications of the Graduate School. These specifications are contained in the document entitled "University of Colorado Graduate School Specifications for Preparation of Master's Theses and Doctoral Dissertations" which is available from the department. It is the student's responsibility to be familiar with this document so that a thesis acceptable to the Graduate School can be produced. This document specifies thesis form and standards, not technical content. Technical content is subject to the approval of the M.S. Advisory Committee.

Two copies formally approved (signed) by two professors in computer science and including an approved abstract must be deposited with the UCCS Graduate School not less than two weeks before the end of the semester in which the degree is to be conferred. The Department of Computer Science requires one copy for the departmental library. Additional copies are required for the thesis advisor and other members of the M.S. Advisory Committee.

Non-Thesis Option (Plan II)

Students who choose the non-thesis option must complete a project worth 3 semester credit hours.

The project option may involve a large programming or hardware development effort, which is usually done over two semesters, and includes the requirements and certification specifications and a user handbook. Alternatively, the project option may involve producing a research paper, which is to be submitted for publication with the student and advisor as co-authors.

The format and content of the project report or paper are not controlled by University regulations but should follow the format of a thesis as described above. Students choosing the project option should develop a project proposal in conjunction with their major advisor that outlines the topics, scope, and objectives of the proposed project. The project topic will normally be in a common interest area to both the student and major advisor. The project proposal should be discussed with and approved by the student's M.S. Advisory Committee before the student begins the work associated with the project. A signed copy of the proposal must be placed in the student's permanent file. The Computer Science Department should receive a copy of the project report for the departmental library. Additional copies are required for the project advisor and other members of the M.S. Advisory Committee.

Final Oral Examination (Defense)

For either Plan Plan I, or II the student is required to pass an oral examination on work presented for the degree.

The final oral examination should be scheduled according to the deadline established by the UCCS Graduate School Office. Under Plan I, the examination will consist of a defense to the thesis and its foundations. Under Plan II, the examination will consist of a defense of the project and its foundations. It is the responsibility of the M.S. Advisory Committee to administer the examination and to report the results to the Graduate School. It is the responsibility of the student to circulate a copy of the thesis or project report to each member of the M.S. Advisory Committee at least one week (preferably two weeks) in advance of the scheduled examination and to schedule the examination in concurrence with the M.S. Advisory Committee. This examination is open to the public.

If the student fails the final oral examination, the student may not attempt the examination again until at least three months have elapsed and until the student has covered such work as may be prescribed by the M.S. Advisory Committee. The student may retake the examination only once. If this examination is failed twice, the student will be terminated from the program.

A master's degree student must be registered either for course work or as "Candidate for Degree" (CS 9990, 0 credit hours) the semester in which the final oral examination is scheduled.

Time Limits

Full-time graduate students should be able to complete the M.S. degree in computer science in one and a half years. Part-time students, taking two courses per semester, should complete their work in two and a half years. Most graduate courses are offered in the late afternoon and evening in order to provide graduate study opportunities for working professionals. All work toward the M.S. degree must be completed within a six year time limit. If the degree cannot be completed within this time period, then the student must request an extension from the Graduate School and validate any course work more than six years old, possibly by special examination.

Graduate Studies Committee

The Department of Computer Science at UCCS has a Graduate Studies Committee which reviews graduate student progress once a year and writes to students when a lack of progress is encountered; reviews and approves Plans of Study and changes in these plans; and may be asked to assist in the selection of graduate advisors and M.S. Advisory Committees.

Progress Toward Degree

Any student who does not enroll for any course work relevant to computer science in a given semester (summer semesters excluded) must supply the department with a written statement describing the reasons for his/her inactivity and his/her current intentions with respect to the continuation of progress toward his/her degree. This statement must be received by the department by the end of the eighth week of the semester in which no computer science courses are taken. The department shall regard the failure of the student to supply such a statement by the eighth week as evidence of a lack of interest in continuing in the program. Students will not be permitted to pre-register unless they contact Admissions and Records prior to Admissions and Record's deadlines. Similarly, any student who does not enroll for any computer science course work for three consecutive semesters (summer semesters excluded) shall be regarded by the department as evidencing a lack of interest in continuing in the program and will be inactivated by the admissions department. The student must then re-apply and be re-admitted to continue in the program. In either case, the student may be asked to explain to the department why he/she should not be removed from the degree program. In such cases, the department is to be the final judge of whether or not the student is to be removed from the program.

For additional information please contact the Computer Science Department.