Master of Science Programs in Computer Science and Engineering

MS Program Overview

CSE's master degree programs are designed to address a variety of post-graduate educational needs. As with our PhD programs, we offer majors in both computer science and computer engineering.

Both majors are available in each of our three MS plans: Thesis Plan, Comprehensive Standard Plan, or Comprehensive Interdisciplinary Plan.  Course requirements are intended to ensure that students are exposed to (1) fundamental concepts and tools, (2) advanced, up-to-date views in topics outside their area (the Breadth requirement), and (3) a deep, current view of their research or specialization are (the Depth requirement).  The Interdisciplinary Option requires additional coursework in another department.  Courses may not fulfill more than one requirement.

These programs can be completed full-time or part-time by students working in industry. 

Applications for admission to the MS program are considered annually. Admissions are effective the following Fall quarter.

Excellent students who develop an interest in pursuing a PhD in the course of their MS studies are encouraged to apply to the PhD program.


The masters degree is offered with the title Computer Science and Engineering or Computer Science and Engineering (Computer Engineering).

Students must register for a minimum of three quarters for residency requirements.  To maintain good academic standing, students must be making timely and satisfactory progress toward completion of degree requirements and must maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 at UC San Diego.

M.S. Plan I - Thesis 

M.S. Plan II- Comprehensive Exam, Standard Option 

M.S. Plan II - Comprehensive Exam, Interdisciplinary Option 


Breadth Requirement

The breadth requirement ensures that MS students share knowledge of fundamental concepts and tools from across broad areas of computer science and computer engineering. Students must complete three graduate courses (twelve units) to satisfy this requirement. Courses must be taken for a letter grade and completed with grade of B- or higher.  Breadth courses are categorized into three areas: Theory, Systems, and Applications.  

Depth Requirement

The depth requirement ensures that MS students acquire expertise in a general research or specialization area. Students pursuing the computer engineering degree must choose that as the depth area.  Students must complete three graduate courses (12 units) of approved courses to fulfill the depth requirement.  Courses must be taken for a letter grade. 

Electives and Research

  • The number of Elective and Research units required varies across the three degree programs. 
  • Elective courses must be completed for letter grade.
  • Electives are chosen from graduate courses in CSE, ECE and Mathematics or from other departments as approved: Electives Exceptions List.
  • maximum of ONE undergraduate CSE upper-division course from approved ELECTIVES EXCEPTION LIST is permitted toward Electives.
  • Note, Graduate/Undergraduate Course Restrictions per policies below. In addition, seats are not guaranteed for approved list of CSE undergraduate course. Please direct questions regarding exception list to
  • Seminar and teaching units may not count toward the Electives and Research requirement, although both are encouraged. 

Students electing the Thesis plan: a minimum of eight and maximum of twelve units of CSE 298 (Independent Research) is required. Note, the minimum eight units of CSE 298 should be the same thesis chair.

Students electing the comprehensive Plan may choose to execute a research project with an adviser while enrolled in four units of CSE 293. A maximum of four units of CSE 293 may be applied to the electives and research requirement. Note: CSE 293 (4 units) must be completed within one quarter (units may not be divided).

Graduate/Undergraduate Course Restrictions

  • MS Students are restricted from enrolling and counting the graduate version of the following six courses if the undergraduate version was completed at UCSD 
  • Students may not attempt to take both the undergraduate and graduate version of these six courses for degree credit

CSE-118/CSE-218 (Instructor Dependent/ If completed by same instructor)
CSE 124/224. (MS students are permitted to enroll in CSE 224 only)
CSE-130/230 (*Only Sections previously completed with Sorin Lerner are restricted under this policy)
CSE 150A and CSE 150B, CSE 150/ 250A **(Only sections previously completed with Lawrence Saul are restricted under this policy)
CSE 158/258 and DSC 190 Intro to Data Mining
CSE 176A/276D.

THESIS PLAN: Capstone 

A thesis based on the student’s research must be written and subsequently reviewed by the student's MS thesis committee.  It is then submitted as described in the general university requirements.  The MS committee, appointed by the dean of Graduate Studies, consists of three faculty members, with at least two members from with the CSE department.  


Comp Exam Guidelines

Per this plan, the student must pass the comprehensive examinations designed to test the student’s knowledge in fundamental computer science material. The comprehensive exam is a practical exam designed to evaluate each student's ability to apply what they have learned. In order to ensure that the exam is relevant and presented in context, it is integrated into host courses. 

Course Repetitions

A graduate student assigned a grade of D, F, or U only may request to repeat the course on the same grading basis for which it was first taken. The petition must be submitted in advance of the quarter in which the repetition/course enrollment would occur. Petitions are first reviewed by the department chairs and instructors before proceeding for review by the Graduate Division. For additional information and guidelines, please refer to Repetition of Courses - Graduate Division

CSE 293 and Research Policies

CSE 293:

  • CSE 293 (4 units) is eligible to count once toward the MS Electives for the Comprehensive Degree Plan
  • The permitted units for CSE 293 is exactly 4 units per quarter 
  • Enrollment in other research sections (for example, an outside department) must be pre-approved by the CSE MS Program. Please email in advance of the enrollment to receive permission.

CSE 298 - Thesis Only

CSE 298

  • CSE 298 is for thesis plan students with a confirmed thesis chair/advisor
  • A minimum of 8 and maximum of 12 units of CSE 298 (Independent Research) is required for the Thesis plan
  • CSE 298 is 4 units per quarter. If additional units are desired, a request for an exception can be sent by the thesis advisor/chair(s) via email to the CSE MS advisors.

Quarterly Enrollment Policies

  • MS Students may enroll in 12 -14 units quarterly.
  • Graduate students with TA or GSR employment should balance their course load with the employment work. For example, if a student is offered a 50% TA position, they should be enrolled in two graduate courses (8 units) and the corresponding TA units. 
  • Students are expected to be enrolled quarterly in CSE graduate level breadth, depth, elective pre-approved coursework (Electives Exceptions List), or CSE upper-division (100-199) courses.
  • Second Year Students: Enrollment in graduate level or upper-division (100-199) courses from other departments may be permitted if 1) The topic is related to the CS/CE field and pre-approved by department review (including for the purpose of the student's thesis and current research work), AND 2) The student is making good progress towards their MS degree requirements in the second year of the program 
  • CSE MS Students are NOT permitted to enroll in lower division courses (numbered 0-99) at UCSD.


Academic Standing and Academic Probation Policies

Good Academic Standing

  • UCSD GEPA Minimum Academic Standing Policies
  • maintain a GPA of 3.0 or the equivalent in upper-division, graduate, and professional course work, and must not have accumulated more than a total of eight units of "F" and/or "U" grades overall, unless the student’s graduate program specifies more stringent grade requirements
  • Maintain satisfactory progress toward completion of degree requirements, as defined by the graduate program, the student’s faculty advisor, and/or the student’s committee (if applicable). This includes quarterly enrollment of CS75 major or CS76 major courses according to the CSE graduate enrollment policies.
  • Comply with conditions set at the time of admission to the student’s graduate degree program

Be Proactive - Academic and Wellness Support

Academic Probation Standing

  • UCSD GEPA Academic Probation Process
  • CSE MS Academic Advising Support: CSE MS students who do not meet the requirements for good academic standing due to having a GPA below 3.0 and/or earning more than a total of eight units of “F” and/or “U” grades after the final grades are posted in any given quarter, should contact the CSE MS Advising Office at for support. The academic advising staff generally reach out to students quarterly; we encourage you to be proactive in reaching out as soon as grade results are posted.
  • CSE Faculty Advising: A CSE faculty member from the MS Committee will meet with the student to discuss the case and academic plan.
  • Note, Depending on the student's academic progress during the quarter following an academic probation notice, the GEPA Dean will advise the student of any further academic action and consequences via a letter posted to GEPA’s Student Portal. A hold is typically placed on the student’s registration in subsequent quarters following a warning notification if the student is not showing improvement towards resolving the academic probation status. For further details, please read the probation process here. 
  • Questions and Concerns: Please contact

International Students - Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

For CSE M.S. Program eligibility and policies: CSE M.S. CPT GUIDELINES



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