College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics > Department of Computer Science > Computer Science, MS
The MS in Computer Science provides a theoretical and applied understanding of various specialties in the computing field. Students can choose the non-thesis option or thesis option. The former is non-research based while the latter is research focused that prepares students to continue into a Ph.D. program. Either option prepares a student to pursue a career in a variety of job sectors.
Our program places a strong emphasis on specialty to ensure students gain the in-demand skills and knowledge necessary for today’s careers in computing. MS students are required to pursue a track specialization in Core Computer Sciences, Data Analytics, Parallel and Distributed Systems, or Interactive Media.
Students are expected to learn the fundamentals of Computer Science and gain hands-on skills, develop a deeper appreciation of computing and its applications towards a broad range of societal problems. Students will develop the necessary knowledge to apply mathematical and scientific reasoning to a variety of problems, and design, correctly implement and document computational solutions.
For more information, please visit the Computer Science, MS program page.
In addition to the University and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics admissions requirements, applicants are evaluated on their previous academic record, GPA, GRE test scores, quality of schools from which degrees were obtained, statement of purpose, resume, and three letters of recommendation. An applicant is expected to have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or a related field. Verbal, quantitative and analytical writing scores from the GRE are examined separately and are evaluated as one source of information in the total graduate application. An application fee of $75 is required for international application.
TOEFL or IELTS scores must be provided by applicants who did not earn a prior degree from a US institution or a country where English is the medium of instruction (see list). Visit International Students to learn more.
Admission is based on a competitive selection process. Meeting the minimum requirements published does not guarantee admission to our programs. Applicants will not be granted conditional admission.
Students admitted to the graduate program of the Computer Science department must have taken Calculus I, Calculus II and Linear Algebra before being admitted to the program. In addition they are required to demonstrate an appropriate level of proficiency in computer science. Level of proficiency is defined to mean either (a) having successfully passed an equivalent course, as determined by the Director of Graduate Studies, for each subject listed below, (b) complete the corresponding course with a grade of B- or better at the University of Houston, or (c) successfully pass a department placement exam in each of the required subjects.
- Equivalent Coursework - evaluation of equivalent coursework for each subject listed below will be determined by the Director of Graduate Studies at the time of initial advising.
- Completion After Admission - upon entering the graduate program, students may remedy deficiencies by taking courses from the list below and securing at least a B- grade. Any course in which a grade of “B-” or better is not made must be repeated the following term. Each course can be taken a maximum of two times to obtain the required grade of “B-” or better.
- Department Placement Exam - A student must submit to the Director of Graduate Studies a request to take department placement exams(s) prior to the first day of their first term. If approved by the Director of Graduate Studies, the exam(s) must be completed within the first five class days. The result of the department placement exam(s) will be reported by the tenth class day and included in the student’s academic file. If the student fails the department placement exam, the assigned required course must be taken no later than the term immediately following.
Courses taken to remedy deficiencies will not be counted in the total number of credit hours required for the graduate degree.
Remediation of deficiencies must be completed (a) within the first two long terms and (b) before a student will be allowed to enroll in the courses which are counted towards their degree. The only exception is the term in which the student will complete the deficiencies. In this situation, a student can enroll in courses required to remedy deficiencies concurrent with enrollment in graduate courses that will be applied towards the degree.
Courses that may be taken to remedy deficiencies in Computer Science:
Credit hours required for this degree: Thesis, 30.0/Non-Thesis, 36.0
A student must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours subject to the following restrictions:
- No less than 15 credit hours of Computer Science courses numbered COSC 6318 - COSC 6393 or COSC 7340 - COSC 7388.
- An additional 9 credit hours must be taken from: regular COSC courses, special topics COSC 6397 (limit 2), special problems COSC 6398 (limit 2), outside department courses (limit 2) with prior permission from the Director of Graduate Studies, or courses transferred from previous institutions (limit six credit hours, which is stricter than the university standard). For more information about transfer credit, visit the university transfer credit policy.
- COSC 6399 and COSC 7399 in two consecutive terms prior to graduation. A student must be enrolled in COSC 7399 in the term of graduation.
A student in the thesis option of the M.S. degree program must complete a thesis. Details on preparation of a thesis document can be found on the department website.
No later than one term before the anticipated graduation date of the student, a thesis advisory committee must be formed, which consists of the advisor and at least two (2) other members: one other member of the Computer Science faculty and one from outside the Department of Computer Science (either faculty from another department, another university or from industry). Further details on committee composition can be found here. The thesis advisory committee will be the comprehensive examination committee. The thesis is not considered to be complete until the student passes a comprehensive examination, which is primarily a defense of the thesis. The examination will be given upon the request of the student with the approval of the research advisor.
The comprehensive examination thesis defense is open to the University community and must be publicized at least two weeks in advance. Details on how to announce the defense can be found on the department website.
Requires a minimum of 36 credit hours, with no thesis requirement, subject to the following restrictions:
- No less than 24 credit hours of Computer Science courses numbered COSC 6318 - COSC 6393 or COSC 7340 - COSC 7388.
- An additional 12 credit hours must be taken from: regular COSC courses, special topics COSC 6397 (limit 2), special problems COSC 6398 (limit 2), outside department courses (limit 2) with prior permission from the Director of Graduate Studies, or courses transferred from previous institutions following (limit 6 credit hours, which is stricter than the university standard). For more information about transfer credit, visit the university transfer credit policy.
Tracks allow MS students to specialize in key areas within computer science. The MS core computer science track is the default track unless an alternate track is declared. A track can be changed while enrolled in the MS program. To graduate, students must complete all track requirements which includes completing all track courses, maintaining a 3.00 or higher GPA in all track courses, and all other MS degree requirements including the total number of credits to complete the degree.
The Core Track balances core components of the computer science program including theory, systems and computational science. Thesis option requires taking at least 4 courses listed below (2 courses each from Block 1 and Block 2). Non-thesis option requires taking at least 5 courses listed below, with at least 2 courses from Block 1 and at least 2 courses from Block 2.
Data Analysis Track
The Data Analysis Track emphasizes a practical approach to the study of data analytics, imparting fundamentals supported by hands-on skills acquisition and problem solving involving real-world applications. The track facilitates preparation for positions in product development and research in industries pursuing image computing, data mining, and data analysis as well as for advanced studies in the field. Thesis option requires taking at least 4 courses listed below, with at least 3 courses from Block 1. Non-thesis option requires taking at least 6 courses, with at least 3 courses from Block 1.
Parallel and Distributed Systems Track
The Parallel and Distributed Systems Track is a systems focused track with emphasis on theory, design and evaluation of parallel computations, protocols, and vector and distributed data applications. The thesis option requires taking at least 4 courses listed below, with at least 3 courses from Block 1. Non-thesis option requires taking at least 6 courses listed below, with at least 3 courses from Block 1.
Interactive Media Track
The Interactive Media Track studies theoretical and applied aspects of interface, visualization, graphics and gaming. Thesis option requires taking 4 courses listed below, with at least 3 courses from Block 1. Non-thesis option requires taking at least 6 courses listed below, with at least 3 courses from Block 1.
MS students must complete the program within five years of the date of enrollment with a masters’s degree objective at the University of Houston. Transfer credit may not apply to any masters’s degree if the course credit is more than five years old at commencement.
Refer to the TIme Limitations of Completion of Degree Requirements section of the Graduate Catalog.