Computer Science

Master’s Students

Degree Requirements

The official degree requirements are available here.


Projects

Available Master’s research projects are listed here.


Frequently Asked Questions

Degree Requirements

Thesis Option

Project Option

Exam Option

Candidacy and Graduation

Other

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Degree Requirements Answers

How do I get a MS in Computer Science?

This varies from student to student but the following list shows the right order of steps and approximate time frame to follow:

Thesis Option

Time to Degree: 2 – 3 Years

  • Complete Undergraduate Proficiency (UGP) Requirements
  • Complete 6 Graduate Courses (includes Core Courses)
  • Complete 12 Units of Research (ECS 299)
  • Additional Coursework to Total 36 Units (this can include up to 6 units of UGP)
  • Approved Thesis

Project Option

Time to Degree: 2 – 3 Years

  • Complete Undergraduate Proficiency (UGP) Requirements
  • Complete 7 Graduate Courses (includes Core Courses)
  • Complete 8 Units of Research (ECS 299)
  • Additional Coursework to Total 36 Units (this can include up to 6 units of UGP)
  • Successful Completion of Project

Exam Option

Time to Degree: 2 – 3 Years

  • Complete Undergraduate Proficiency (UGP) Requirements
  • Complete 9 Graduate Courses (includes Core Courses)
  • Additional Coursework to Total 36 Units (this can include up to 6 units of UGP)
  • Successful Completion of Comprehensive Exams

What is the breadth requirement?

The breadth requirement includes demonstrated proficiency in three of four areas of computer science at the graduate level: architecture, systems, theory, and applications. For more information, see the Master’s degree requirements.

Can I take courses outside of Computer Science?

Yes, you can take courses outside of computer science. They must be graduate level courses, related to computer science or your research, if you want them to count towards your degree requirements.

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Thesis Option Answers

What is the MS thesis option?

A Master’s thesis is usually based on six to nine units of laboratory research carried out under the 299 course number. The thesis should demonstrate the student’s proficiency in research methods and scientific analysis, and a thorough knowledge of the state of the art in the student’s chosen area. A Master’s thesis is a description of an original technical or research contribution of limited scope, or an advanced design project.

How do I find an advisor to work on my thesis with?

You should have a general idea of the area that you want to do research in, as well as an idea of potential thesis topics. Once you know what area of computer science you want to work in, contact a faculty member in that area and see if they will be willing to advise you.

Email tends to be one of the less effective ways to introduce yourself to a faculty member, though sometimes it is the only choice. Better ways of making an introduction are through taking a class with the faculty member, talking with them during office hours, or through seminars and colloquia.

How do I file a completed thesis?

When your thesis is complete, it must first be approved by a committee of three members. The committee membership must be approved by Graduate Studies, through the Advancement to Candidacy form. The committee members are restricted by the requirements stated in the Master’s degree requirements.

After the thesis is approved, it must be filed with Graduate Studies. The process can be found on Graduate Studies’ website. The deadlines for filing can be found on Graduate Studies’ calendar.

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Project Option Answers

What is the MS project option?

A Master’s project is based on laboratory research carried out under the 299 course number, similar to a thesis. The biggest difference between the two is that, unlike the thesis, the faculty member determines what is to be done in a project. A project should demonstrate the student’s proficiency in research methods and scientific analysis, and a thorough knowledge of the state of the art in the student’s chosen area. It tends to be of more limited scope than a thesis, and usually takes less time to complete than a thesis.

How do I find a project to work on?

Some projects are advertised through the Master’s research project topics page. Other projects are advertised through the GGCS listserve. Check your UC Davis email account for potential projects.

If you are looking for a different project, faculty members may have other projects available. You should have a general idea of the area that you want to do research in. Once you know what area of computer science you want to work in, contact a faculty member in that area and see if they have any projects available.

Email tends to be one of the less effective ways to introduce yourself to a faculty member, though sometimes it is the only choice. Better ways of making an introduction are through taking a class with the faculty member, talking with them during office hours, or through seminars and colloquia.

How do I file a completed project?

Once you have completed your project, your faculty advisor must sign off on the project. There is no need to turn the project into Graduate Studies. However your faculty advisor specifes to submit the project will suffice.

After the project is approved, email Jessica Stoller. Upon notice that the project was completed successfully, the student will be added to the degree conferral list.

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Exam Option Answers

What is the MS comprehensive exam option?

Students who wish to develop breadth at the graduate level in computer science may choose the Master’s examination option. The examination is used to ensure that the student has acquired proficient knowledge in core and applied CS areas. The examination may be taken once the student has completed required courses and advanced to candidacy.

The possible exams follow the core areas: architecture, systems, theory, and applications. Students pick three of the four core areas that they have taken courses in to be examined in. The examination may be oral, written, or a combination of both, designated by the Exam Committee, with the objective to strengthen the student’s knowledge in selected core or applied CS areas that can best prepare the student for his/her professional career. A student is allowed to repeat the Master’s examination only once.

How do I set up my comprehensive exams?

When you are ready to take your exams, you must email Jessica Stoller with a note that you need your exams administered. Specify the areas you are to be tested in, and she will set them up with the appropriate faculty.

How do I submit a completed comprehensive exam?

Once your exams are complete, the faculty administering the exam should email the result to Jessica Stoller. Upon notice that the examination was completed successfully, the student will be added to the degree conferral list.

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Candidacy and Graduation Answers

What is Advancement to Candidacy?

Advancing to candidacy occurs after completing all the coursework required for the degree. For the MS degree, this means completing all undergraduate proficiency requirements, all breadth requirements with a B or better, and all graduate courses required. Every student must file a Candidacy for the Master’s Degree – Thesis Plan I or Candidacy for the Master’s Degree – Comprehensive Exam Plan II form after they have completed at least one-half the course requirements for the degree. Please submit the form to Jessica Stoller at least one full quarter before completion of all degree requirements and before going on filing fee status.

How do I choose a MS committee?

You are required to form a committee of three faculty members to review your thesis or exam. The committee must be composed of three members. Any member of the Graduate Group in Computer Science may chair this committee. At least two members of this committee must be members of the Academic Senate of the University of California. At least two members of this committee must be members of the Graduate Group in Computer Science.

What is going on Filing Fee? When and how do I apply?

The Filing Fee program is for students who have completed all requirements for degrees except filing theses and/or taking final examinations, and who are no longer using University facilities. The Filing Fee is a reduced fee, paid in lieu of registration fees. It is assessed only once. The Filing Fee option preserves your candidacy status with the University; however, you are no longer considered a full-time registered student by the University and are not entitled to the same benefits and privileges as a registered student. You are allowed one quarter of Filing Fee. To file, complete the Filing Fee Application and submit to Jessica Stoller.

I am graduating. Is there any additional paperwork I need to complete?

Yes! Please see Jessica Stoller to complete the Graduate Exit Checklist.

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Other Answers

How do I switch from the MS to the PhD program?

The largest hurdle that Master’s students face is guaranteeing funding. You will need to speak to your advisor to ensure that funding is available for you. A letter of support from your advisor, stating that your faculty member is willing to support you for the next four years, is required to switch to the PhD program.

Once you obtain this letter, you must formally apply to the PhD program. You can do so by completing the Petition for Change of Graduate Major, Degree Objective, or for Double Graduate Major. Once both are complete, submit your form to Jessica Stoller.

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