Graduate Program

The Department will consider an applicant who has:

  • At least a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an approved college or university and is prepared for advanced study as shown by his/her previous scholastic records;
  • Completed at least twenty-one (21) semester hours of courses above the sophomore level in the area of computer science/CIS;
  • Submitted the results of the general and advanced sections of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and three letters of recommendation, two of which document familiarity with the area to be pursued;
  • Satisfied additional requirements listed by the School of Arts and Sciences and the University.

The Department may waive one or more requirement, if an applicant demonstrates superior performance (“B” grade or above) in CCIS 582: Introduction to Information Systems or completion of the sequence of CIS 500 level courses.

Requirements for the M.S. Degree in Computer Science

The program requires a minimum of thirty (30) semester hours of course work, including:

  • Twelve (12) hours of graduate core courses (CCIS 671, CCIS 672, CIS 673, and CCIS 674);
  • Three (3) hours of research/design project from the sequence CCIS 803-815, leading to a technical report and a final comprehensive examination on its contents; and
  • Fifteen (15) hours of graduate course electives, including a graduate thesis (if applicable).

Note: Students who are admitted on a scholarship are required to complete a thesis.

Research Advisement

The new student is strongly advised to dialog with the faculty members in the first semester of the program to determine his/her area of research interest. By the end of the first semester, a faculty research advisor should be agreed upon, and this information should be communicated with the department

In the event that the student wishes to change research advisors, or add a co-advisor, the procedure to do so involves the following steps:

1. Discuss the situation with the current research advisor.

2. Discuss the situation with the chairman of the department.

3. Discuss the situation with the potential new advisor.

4. Communicate these changes to the department.

Thesis Requirements

A student writing a graduate thesis must complete CCIS 821 as a continuation of the research/design project mentioned above, leading to a graduate thesis and final examination on its contents.

Committee

  • The thesis committee typically includes at least three (3) faculty members: the student's research advisor as chair, one member suggested by the chair in consultation with the student, and one member appointed by the head of the department. 
  • The committee should be assembled at the beginning of the Fall Semester of the second year, in order to give adequate guidance to the student prior to the thesis proposal (see below).

Research Plan

Typically, after the first year in the Master's program, the student should begin his/her thesis research under the guidance of the research advisor. The following is the standard sequence to be followed:

1. Research/Design Project

The purpose of this course is to provide an in-depth research experience in the particular area of specialization. With the assistance of the research advisor, the student will identify a concrete problem, design a solution, achieve some significant progress in implementing the design solution, and complete a written technical report to be submitted at the end of the course. For non-thesis students, the goals of the project will be such that they can reasonably be achieved in one semester. However, for students pursuing a master's thesis, completion of this course should make a major milestone toward completion of the thesis research. The final technical report should be of sufficient quality to be considered for conference submission.

The following is a suggested outline for this document:

1. Statement of Research Question 
2. Why is this important or interesting? 
3. What are some of the issues that need to be addressed? 
4. What is the approach to the problem? (General Approach)
5. Detail related or background work 
6. Detail the work done to date 
7. Detailed Research Plan 
8. Research Schedule

2. Thesis Proposal

The technical report resulting from the Research/Design course will serve as the written thesis proposal, and a copy of this document must be submitted to each member of the Thesis Committee for approval. A formal 20-30-minute oral presentation of the proposed research may also be required by the committee. The proposal requirements, including the signing of the Thesis Research Approval form, must be completed within the first three (3) weeks of the semester in which the student expects to register for CIS 821.

3. Master's Thesis and Defense

The student must register for the Thesis Research course (CIS 821). It is expected that the student's research will be completed during this semester, and that the thesis document will be written and submitted for approval. The grade for this course includes completion of the thesis document together with a public defense of the thesis.

The following is a sample outline for the thesis document:

1. INTRODUCTION.

  • Statement of Research Question.
  • Why is this important or interesting?
  • What are some of the issues that need to be addressed?
  • General Approach.
  • Outline of remaining chapters.

2. BACKGROUND/RELATED WORK.

  • What has been done in this area?
  • How is this work relevant to the thesis?

3. SYSTEM DESIGN.

4. SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION.

  • Show relationship between implementation and design. Sample screens and/or output.

5. TESTING AND EVALUATION.

6. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS.

  • Recap of what work was done.
  • How well was the research question answered?
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the work.
  • Future Work.

7. REFERENCES.

  • All references listed must be cited in the body of the thesis. Approximately ten (10) references should be considered a minimum.

8. APPENDIX

  • Any code and/or forms used.


The thesis defense is a formal presentation of appromiximately forty-five (45) minutes duration, which must include the thesis committee members, and is usually open to the general CIS community. It represents not just an overview of the thesis research, but is to be considered an (oral examination). The thesis committee may question any part of the document, and/or supporting computer science knowledge that the candidate should be expected to know in the related area (s) of specialization. If the candidate has not satisfactorily addressed the questions, either orally, or in the thesis document, the Committee may request revisions to the document, and, in some cases, may require further defense. Therefore, it is in the interest of the student to interact with the committee members prior to the defense, and to try to ensure that the work is as complete as possible before the defense presentation. The complete final draft of the thesis must be presented to the committee members at least two weeks prior to the desired defense date. The advisor will ascertain from the committee members within a week whether the defense can be scheduled, and will make appropriate arrangements. The student should also be prepared to demonstrate any implementation in the week prior to the defense.

[Note 1.] Receiving a passing grade for the thesis course and obtaining the committee's signatures on the cover page do not constitute completion of institutional requirements. The final thesis document must be prepared according to the standards set by the School of Arts and Sciences, and it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that these requirements are met.

[Note 2.] The deadline for turning in all the relevant material to the Dean's Office in time for Spring Graduation is usually in March. In order to meet this deadline, the student must make significant research progress in the previous two semesters. As an alternative, the student may take the entire Spring Semester to complete the requirements and aim to graduate during the Summer commencement period. It is therefore extremely important to discuss personal deadlines and constraints with the Research Advisor, in order to construct a realistic plan for successful completion.