Master of Science Programs in Computer Science and Engineering

Updated 11/3/ 2017


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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.


Requirements for the MS degree programs changed effective Fall 2015.  Students entering in Fall 2015 must follow the new curriculum. Continuing students may remain in their current curriculum or may change to the Fall 2015 requirements. 

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, such as Cognitive Science. 

maximum of ONE undergraduate CSE upper-division course from approved ELECTIVES EXCEPTION LIST is permitted toward Electives. **Note, students are not permitted to double-count the graduate version or a similar course of the undergraduate exception toward the degree requirements. In addition, seats are not guaranteed for approved list of CSE undergraduate course. Undergraduate students receive priority seating. Please direct questions regarding exception list to Courses must be completed for a letter grade, except research units that are taken on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. 

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.

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 seven courses if the undergraduate version was completed at UCSD 
  • Students may not attempt to take both the undergraduate and graduate version of these seven courses for degree credit

CSE-118/CSE-218 (Instructor Dependent/ f completed by same instructor)
CSE 124/224. (MS students are permitted to enroll in CSE 224 only)
CSE 151/250B
CSE 150/250A **(Only sections previously completed with Lawrence Saul are restricted under this policy)
CSE 158/258
CSE 176A/276D.

Capstone:  Thesis or Comprehensive Exam

Per this plan, the student must pass the comprehensive examination designed to test the student’s knowledge in fundamental computer science material.

Capstone: Thesis

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.  

Capstone: Comprehensive

Comprehensive Exam Effective 2016 Entry Years   Comp Exam Guidelines


Curricular Practical Training (CPT):

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