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Dept. of Computer Science
California State Univ.
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330
Phone (818) 677-3398
FAX (818) 677-7208


General Information



Admission Procedures and Requirements

Application forms may be requested from and should be returned to the University Office of Admissions and Records. It is also possible to apply on-line.  Applications are accepted beginning November 1st for the following Fall semester and August 1st for the following Spring semester. Applications are accepted until all positions are full or until the University closes the admission period. Generally speaking, this means that Fall applications and all supporting documentation, including GRE scores, should be submitted by the end of June and Spring applications should be submitted by the end of October.  Special regulations, including application deadlines, govern applications from non-resident and foreign students.  More details about the application process for all students can be found here.  For Spring 2010 admission the Computer Science Department strongly advises applicants to submit all application material before October 31.

To be accepted into the Computer Science Master of Science (CSMS) degree program you must have an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 or a GPA of at least 3.0 from your last 60 units of work, as calculated by the Admissions and Records office and in most cases you must take the GRE (see below).  Under some special circumstances, if your GPA is under 3.0 but above 2.5 you can still be admitted into the CSMS program but you will need to have GRE scores well above our minimum requirements and you will need to have strong letters of recommendation.  If your GPA is under 2.5 you will not be admitted to the University and so you will also not be accepted into the CSMS program.

Scores from the general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) aptitude test are required for admission to the CSMS program. We expect scores in all three sections to be at least in the 50th percentile.  This generally means raw scores of at least 575 in the verbal and quantitative sections and a score of 4.5 in the new analytical writing section or a score of 575 in the old analytical part of the exam.  For applicants whose first language is not English we can accept slightly lower verbal GRE scores, but the raw verbal score still must be at least 400.  The GRE should be taken early enough to allow the GRE score reports to arrive at CSUN in time for admissions considerations.  The only exception to our GRE requirement is for students with a Computer Science degree from an accredited U.S. university.  Such students are welcome to submit applications without GRE scores and will be evaluated as if they have achieved our minimum GRE requirements as described above.  Of course all students must still meet the GPA requirements mentioned above.  Thus students not required to submit GRE scores but possessing a GPA under our requirements must still submit GRE scores in order to have a chance of being admitted.  Students that are rejected without GRE scores are welcome to reapply after taking the GRE if they feel their scores are sufficiently good to warrant reconsideration by the department.

If you are denied admission to the CSMS program and you are a U.S. resident, if you meet the University requirements for admission, that is, you either have a GPA of 3.0 or better, or your GPA is under 3.0 but greater than 2.5 and your GRE scores are high enough, you will be admitted as a PBU student.  Being admitted to the University as a PBU student does not mean you have been admitted to the Computer Science Department.  See the next section for more information about PBU status.  If you are denied admission you may also apply to a different graduate program by filing a Change of Objective form with Admissions and Records.  You are welcome to reapply for the CSMS program at a later date if you feel your situation has improved and you have a better chance of being admitted, for example, you have improved your GRE scores or you have taken some upper division classes and improved your GPA.

Please note that the CSUN Admission and Records office does not forward your application to the Computer Science department until it receives all transcripts and supporting documentation. The Computer Science Department does not consider any application until the GRE scores have arrived.  Questions regarding arrival of transcripts or GRE scores should be addressed to the Admissions and Records Office.

Students already enrolled at CSUN in the PBU, 2nd bachelor's degree program, or another M.S. program may apply for admission to the Computer Science M.S. program by filing a Change of Objective form (available from the Admission and Records Office). These applications are treated in the same way as those received from outside the University.

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Post Baccalaureate Unclassified (PBU) Status

PBU students can take prerequisite classes, but only U.S. residents may have PBU status. You should be aware that PBU students have very low registration priority and most computer science classes are now restricted to students in a computer science degree program, so as a PBU student you may find it difficult to enroll in the classes you need to take.  Typically, a PBU student will not be given the opportunity to even attempt to add classes until the week that classes begin, after most classes have already filled.  And such students are likely to be put on waiting lists for the classes they are trying to add, and will probably be near the bottom of those lists.  Also, PBU students cannot take more than 12 units towards their M.S. degree.  (There is no restriction on the number of prerequisite classes a PBU student may take.)  Any class taken beyond the 12 unit limit before becoming fully classified cannot be counted towards the degree.  In the past the Graduate Coordinator has routinely signed petitions to allow classes beyond the 12 unit limit, but this will no longer be the case.  At most 12 units of classes taken while PBU (or conditionally classified) will be allowed.  Therefore it is important that you apply to be formally admitted to the program as soon as possible by filing a Change of Objective form with Admissions and Records.

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Conditionally Classified Graduate Status

Students who are accepted to the program but who have not completed the undergraduate prerequisite material are admitted to the program as conditionally classified. To become fully classified a student must fulfill the following conditions:

  1. Completion of prerequisite undergraduate material with a 3.0 grade point average.
  2. Completion of university requirements for classified status.
  3. Approval by the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

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Requirements for the M.S. Degree

  1. Completion of 30 units of approved graduate work as follows:  (After completion of the appropriate CSMS prerequisite classes.)
    1. Core...........9
      Select one course each from three of the following four areas of study. 

                Comp 610      Data Structures and Algorithms (3)

                Comp 620      Computer System Architecture (3)

                Comp 615      Advance Topics in Computation Theory (3)
                Comp 630      Formal Semantics of Programming
                                      Languages (3)

                Comp 680      Software Engineering (3)

    2. Elective courses...........15
      Courses at the 400, 500 or 600 level approved by the Project/Thesis Committee Chair, the Graduate Coordinator, and the Department Chair. (At least 6 units must be at the 500 or 600 level.)
    3. Project or Thesis...........6
      Comp 696C     Directed Graduate Research (3) (CR/NC)
      Comp 698C     Thesis or Graduate Project (3)

No course taken more than seven years prior to the date on which all requirements for the degree are completed may be counted as part of the 30 units in the degree program. No time limit applies to courses taken to satisfy CSMS prerequisites.

  1. Completion and successful oral defense of a thesis or project.
  2. Attend at least two oral defenses presented by other master's students.
  3. Formal approval by the Computer Science Department.

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Fees, Financial Aid, and the Catalog

Semester registration fees and tuition for resident and nonresident students can be found here.

A CSUN Financial Aid Information brochure and application form are available upon request from the Financial Aid Office. Non-United States citizens are not eligible for financial aid unless they meet one of the following qualifications: U.S. permanent resident having an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151 or I-551); permanent resident of the Northern Mariana Islands or of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; holder of Arrival-Departure Record (1-94) showing one of the following endorsements: (a) "refugee", (b) "adjustment applicant", (c) "conditional entrant", (d) "granted asylum", (e) "indefinite and/or humanitarian parole", or (f) "Cuban-Haitian entrant, status pending"; holder of an official statement from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service stating asylum in the U.S. has been granted.

A current CSUN Catalog is available online here. The catalog contains comprehensive information about all aspects of university life.

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CSMS Prerequisites for Classified Status

Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam (University Requirement)

Units Course Number Course Title
4 Comp 110, 110L Introduction to Algorithms and Programming
4 Comp 182, 182L Data Structures and Program Design
4 Phil 230 Symbolic Logic I
10 Math 150A, B Mathematical Analysis I and II (Calculus)
3 Comp 222 Computer Organization
3 Comp 232 Concepts of Programming Languages
3 Comp 282 Advanced Data Structures
3 Math 326 Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics (Discrete Math)
3 Comp 310 Automata, Languages and Computation
4 Comp 322, 322L Introduction to Operating Systems and System Architecture
3 Comp 380, 380L Introduction to Software Engineering
3 Math 482 Combinatorial Algorithms
47 total units maximum


  1. You must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 while taking prerequisite classes.
  2. You will receive credit for equivalent prerequisite classes taken at accredited colleges or universities outside CSUN. Many of these classes are available at local community colleges and other nearby universities.  To find out which of their courses are equivalent to ours go here to get official statewide course transfer information.  These credits will be evaluated by the department when the formal application and the transcripts are received.
  3. Up to 9 units of graduate level work can be transferred subject to university and departmental approvals.
  4. You may take graduate classes while working on your undergraduate prerequisites, however, you may only count a maximum of 12 such units taken before you are fully classified towards your MS degree.

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Last updated: July 11, 2006.