Computer Science Master of Computer Science (M.C.S.)

Frequently Asked Questions

I haven't taken coursework in computer science, but I have a working knowledge of the field. Can I still apply?

Some applicants to the Master of Computer Science (M.C.S.) don't have an academic background in computer science, but have experience through their profession or due to their passion for computer science. Regardless of how prior experience was gained, applicants to the graduate degree in computer science are presumed to have a working knowledge of:

  • Core computer science competencies in object-oriented programming
  • Discrete mathematics
  • Data structures and algorithms
  • Computer Organization/Architecture
  • Software development methodologies
  • Operating system design concepts
  • Mathematical skill, particularly in linear algebra, statistics, and calculus

We do not offer online courses on these topics, though other schools may. These are very common undergraduate computer science courses and are widely available.

If you have not taken formal computer science coursework, but have a working knowledge of all the above areas, the department recommends you take a graduate computer science course at CSU as a non-degree seeking student. It is a great way to test out the waters to see if you like the coursework and the online format, and to provide the admissions committee more background when evaluating your application for the master's degree program. You do not need to apply to the program to take individual courses; simply sign up for a computer science course found on the Requirements and Curriculum page.

What jobs are available to computer science graduates?

We help you learn the skills you need to be competitive and successful in the field when you graduate, and the department's close connections to the computer industry help us keep abreast of current industry practices. Our graduates are highly sought after by major high–tech, computer software, and aerospace companies, like Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Motorola, Raytheon and Lockheed–Martin. In addition, employment opportunities are rapidly growing in small– and medium–sized companies.

May I start taking courses before being officially admitted to the graduate program?

Yes, up to three courses may be taken prior to admission and still count toward the degree.

I have a three-year undergraduate degree (from an institution outside of the U.S.). Can I be admitted to the master's program?

Only those with the equivalent to U.S. bachelor's degrees are qualified to apply for admission. A three-year degree is not equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's degree, nor is a three-year degree plus one year of a second degree.

I have several years of experience as a software engineer. Am I qualified to enroll in CS414?

Probably. Please check the CS414 course page about the course. Also check CS314 as it is a prerequisite for CS414. You may want to review the CS314 text to determine if your background is sufficient.

What if my undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0?

Applicants who show exceptional promise for success may be admitted to the program with less than a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. You may want to consider taking two or three online computer science courses at CSU before applying for admission. If you show strong performance in these courses the admissions committee is more likely to admit you to the master's program.

Am I limited to taking courses that are offered during a specific term, or can I take any of the courses during any term?

Students must take courses within the terms in which they are offered. Courses run during two 16-week terms each year, plus a 12 week summer term, and must be completed on schedule within the designated term. The fall semester runs from late August to mid–December, the spring semester runs from late January to mid–May, and the summer runs from mid-May to early August. Students must join a course at the beginning of the term, or wait until the next semester.

What Next?

  • Learn more about being a student in this program, including information about course structure, assignments, time commitments, and interaction with peers and faculty.