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Master of Science Program Under Quarters

Note: This version of the requirements applies for all students joining the program from Fall 2008 onwards. Students joining the program prior to that may choose to follow these requirements, or the requirements stated in the version last updated November 2004.

Table of Contents


This document together with the Graduate School Handbook, current edition, gives the complete statement of the official requirements for the Master of Science degree in Computer Science and Engineering. These requirements and the procedures for obtaining the degree are determined in part by the Graduate School, and in part by the Department. Petitions for exception to these requirements should be channeled through the departmental Graduate Studies Committee.

Students in the M.S. program must be regular students as defined by the Graduate School regulations; special students and students enrolled in Continuing Education are not considered as regular students. In order to qualify for admission as regular students, students must first remove any restrictions placed on their status. Removal of restrictions is regulated by the Graduate School and the Departmental Graduate Studies Committee.

The procedures and requirements described herein are subject to revision. Students should consult materials issued periodically by the Graduate School and the Department, their advisors, or the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee for any changes or interpretation of policy.

Program for the Master of Science Degree in CSE

The program's philosophy is to provide students a broad graduate level education in the fundamentals of Computer Science and Engineering and also provide the opportunity for deeper study in a specialized sub-area of interest to the student. Students work out the details of their program in close consultation with their advisors.

Two options are offered:

  • Thesis Option (Research Track)
  • Non-Thesis Option (Coursework Track)

Program requirements for the Thesis Option and Non-Thesis Option are detailed in this document. The terms "Research Track" and "Thesis Option" are used interchangeably in this document. Similarly, the terms "Coursework Track" and "Non-Thesis Option" are used synonymously.

1 Advisors

Students' degree programs and all courses taken by students must be approved by their academic advisors. Each student admitted to the graduate program in Computer Science and Engineering is assigned a tentative academic advisor. Students should consult their advisors as soon as possible after arriving on campus, and periodically thereafter until, upon developing a specific specialty interest, a permanent advisor is chosen in that specialty area. When a student determines that his/her interests lie in a particular specialty area, he/she should choose a permanent faculty advisor in that area.

This choice should be made as soon as practical, especially for students planning either to undertake thesis research or to enter the Ph.D. program. Students whose specialty interests change should consider changing to an advisor whose field encompasses their new interests. In exceptional cases, members of other departments who hold joint appointments as Graduate Faculty members of this Department may serve as research advisors for students, but in all cases, the student's academic advisor must be a faculty member whose primary faculty appointment is in this Department.

In addition to the above departmental academic and research advising, the Graduate School maintains a counseling office for students.

2 Requirements for the M.S. Degree in Computer Science and Engineering

This section contains a list of requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Computer Science and Engineering. Students are advised to check the latest edition of the Graduate School Handbook for possible added requirements.

2.1 Credit Hours

The minimum number of quarter credit hours required for the M.S. Degree is as follows:

  • Research Track (Requires Thesis): 45 credits
  • Coursework Track (No thesis): 50 credits

Students in either track must satisfy the Core Requirement (Sec. 2.2). Additional requirements are listed in Sec. 2.2.1 for the Research Track and in Sec. 2.2.2 for the Coursework Track. Students transferring credits for their degree should note the requirements in Section 2.4 below.

2.2 Degree Program

Each candidate is required to pursue a program of study in courses approved by his/her academic advisor. Students in the non-thesis track need to complete 30 graded credits. Students in the non-thesis track need to complete 45 graded credits, or 39 graded credtis and a masters project, as detailed in Section 2.4. For students in either track, at most 9 credits from classes taken outside of CSE may count towards these requirements. Thses classes must be from disciplines closely related to CSE, and need to be approved in advance by the student's advisor.

600-800 level letter-graded CSE classes will be considered to be of four types:

  • Primarily Undergraduate Classes: These classes include CSE 616, 625, 630 655, 660, 670, 675, 677, and 680. This list will be periodically updatedby the graduate studies commitee. Both non-thesis and thesis studentsare limited to taking at most 3 classes from this group, to count towards their 30/45 graded credit requirement.
  • Foundation Core: This group includes 725, 755, 760, 775, and 780. Note that the department also offers and undergraduate class in each of these areas - 625, 655, 660, 675, and 680, which are referred to as pre-core classes. All students need to pass at least three of the five foundational core classes, including 780 and at least one of 760 and 775. In the area where a student does not take a foundational core class, he/she must take the pre-core class, or show that they have taken an equivalent class before coming to OSU.
  • Applied Core: This group currently includes 621, 678, 681, 730, 756, and 770. This list will be periodically updated by the graduate studies committee. One software engineering class is likely to be added in the near future. Students in the thesis option must take at least two classes from this group, and students in the non-thesis option must take at least three classes from this group.
  • All other 600-800 level letter-graded classes offered by the CSE department. There are no minimum or maximum requirements, except that non-thesis students no taking the project option (see below) must take at least one class that counts for capstone requirements for the BS CSE program.

Students who are able to transfer graduate credit for these classes or who took equivalent courses as undergraduates may substitute other appropriate courses in their program, with the approval of their advisors.

2.2.1 Additional Requirements: Research Track
  • Master Thesis: All students in the Research Track are required to complete a Master's Thesis (Sec. 3).
  • Research course requirement: Students are required to register for at least 3 credits of research (788/793/888/999) every quarter, from their second quarter onwards.
  • Letter graded course requirement: At least 30 of the credit hours applied toward the degree must be from letter graded courses. (Core courses are letter graded and count toward this 30 credit requirement.)
  • CIS 885: Students are required to complete CIS 885 (Seminar on research topics in CSE.)
2.2.2 Additional Requirements: Coursework Track
  • CIS 885: Students are required to complete CIS 885 (Seminar on research topics in CSE.)
2.3 Thesis

Each student on the Research Track must submit an approved thesis, based on appropriate research experience, in accordance with Departmental and Graduate School regulations. The Master's thesis must be produced under the direction and with the approval of the student's research advisor, who must be a member of the Graduate Faculty. The Graduate School Handbook should be consulted for rules, procedures, and deadlines for preparation and submission of the final approved copy of the thesis.

Each candidate (in either the Research Track or Coursework Track) must also pass a Master's Examination to test his/her knowledge of the course of study pursued. The rules governing the Master's Examination are given in Section 3.

2.4 Project Option

Masters non-thesis students may take 6 S/U credits (793 or 888) over two consecutive quarters to complete a substantial implementation project with a CSE faculty member. a 3-4 page write-up on the features of the software and design choices must be completed and approved by the CSE facutly member supervising the project. This write-up should be included with the masters paperwork for the student. These credits will count towards the 45 graded course requirement.

2.5 Residency and Transfer Credit

Satisfactory completion of 36 hours of graduate credit (Research Track), or 42 hours of graduate credit (Coursework Track), over a minimum of two quarters at this university, is required. Students who transfer credits from other departments or other universities in order to qualify for the degree, must submit their Request for Application or Transfer of Credit no later than the second quarter of enrollment in the graduate school.

2.6 Academic Standards

A graduate student must maintain at least a B (3.00) average in all graduate credit courses, with no more than one-third of the credit hours with grades of C or lower. Students whose performance falls below the above standard are subject to the Graduate School rules which apply to probationary status or dismissal. In addition, a graduate student must maintain at least a B (3.00) average in all courses applied towards the student's CSE degree.

Only courses in which a graduate student has received a C (2.00) or higher may be applied to the student's CSE degree.

2.7 Application to Graduate and Declaration of Examiniation Forms

Students must submit an "Application to Graduate" form to the department office by the seventh Friday of the quarter preceding the quarter of expected graduation. All students desiring the Master of Science degree must file a Declaration of Examination form with the Chair of the Department's M.S. Comprehensive Examination Committee by the seventh week of the quarter prior to the quarter in which the degree is sought. These forms, and instructions for their use, are available in the Department office. Both forms require approval by the student's academic advisor before submission to the Department. Failure to submit these forms on time will usually result in the student not being able to graduate in the quarter desired.

No student will be allowed to take the Master's examination until he or she has received graduate credit for at least 24 quarter hours at this university and reasonably can be expected to complete all of the requirements for the Master's degree in the quarter for which the "Application to Graduate" form is filed. Students are expected, however to take the Master's examination by the time they have completed 50 credit hours. Any exceptions to this rule must be petitioned to the Graduate Studies Committee.

2.8 Time Limit

The entire work for the Master's degree must be completed within a period of six calendar years. In the case of students who take all the work for the Master's degree during summer quarters, the above rule will be interpreted to include the seventh Summer Quarter.

3 Master's Examination

A Master's Examination is required to test the candidate's knowledge of the courses of study he/she has pursued. Students must have filed an "Application to Graduate" form (Section 2.5) before they can take this examination.

If a student fails to perform satisfactorily on the Master's Examination and desires to take it again in order to get the Master's degree, he/she must enroll the following quarter for at least three credits and take the final examination in that quarter. Any exceptions to this rule must have the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee. In accordance with Graduate School regulations, no student will be permitted to take this examination a third time.

Sections 3.1 and 3.2 describe the details concerning the format and scheduling of the Master's Examination for students on the Research Track and Coursework Track.

3.1 Research Track (Thesis Option)

The Master's Examination is held after the draft of the thesis is approved. Final thesis approval occurs after the examination. The examination must be oral and may include a written portion, at the option of the examination committee. The chair of the committee is to be the candidate's research advisor, and the committee must include at least one other member of the committee who is a member of the Graduate Faculty with primary appointment in the CSE Department. The Graduate Studies Committee may appoint additional members of the committee if it considers it necessary. The committee chair is responsible for arranging and conducting the examination, which is to be based on the subject matter of the thesis as well as the course of study which the candidate has pursued. The chair of the examining committee is also responsible for certifying the examination results and reporting them to the Graduate Studies Committee and the Graduate School office within the prescribed time set by the Graduate School.

3.2 Coursework Track (Non-Thesis Option)

All candidates on the Coursework Track must pass a written comprehensive examination composed of examinations in three of the five core areas. These exams are based on the 700 level graduate core classes. All students must take the exam based on CSE 780, and at least one from the exams based on CSE 760 and CSE 775. The candidate must specify which areas they will take the exam in when completing the declaration of examination form. Examination in each of the areas is of 90 minute duration, and these examinations are administered over a 2 day duration. Currently, these exams are offered in Autumn and Spring Quarters. 

4 Master's Degree on Basis of Ph.D. Candidacy Examination

Ph.D. students who have not previously obtained a Master's degree in Computer Science and Engineering may be recommended for the Master of Science degree after taking their Ph.D.Candidacy Examinations under the following conditions:

It is recommended by the student's advisor and the Graduate Studies Committee; The student does not already hold an equivalent master's degree in the same field; Graduation deadlines established by the Graduate School are met. The Graduate School Handbook is to be consulted for the applicable procedural details.