Computer Science

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Graduate Advisement

Graduate CoordinatorE-mail
Ani Nahapetian

Prospective Students

How to Apply

Application forms for prospective students can be completed on-line through CSU Mentor. Application materials are processed through the CSUN University Office of Admissions & Records. Applications are accepted until all positions are full, until the application deadline has been reached, or until the University closes the admission period. Special regulations, including application deadlines, govern applications from non-resident and foreign students.

Students already enrolled at CSUN in another M.S. program may apply for admission to the Computer Science M.S. program by filing a change of objective form. These applications are treated in the same way as those received from outside the University.

Application Process

In order to be admitted to the Computer Science Department, you must first meet the University admission criteria and then be evaluated and recommended by the Department for admission to its program. The Department bases its evaluation on your undergraduate and graduate grade point averages (GPA) and your general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Letters of recommendation are not required for admission, but, if submitted, will be used in the evaluation. Send all application materials, including letters of recommendation directly to the CSUN Admissions & Records Office.

Admission Requirements

To be accepted into one of the Computer Science Masters degree programs 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 CSUN Admissions & Records Office; and in most cases you must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). We expect GRE scores in all three sections to be at least or above the 50th percentile. Under some special circumstances, if your GPA is under 3.0 but above 2.5 you can still be admitted into one of the programs, but you will need to have GRE scores well above our minimum requirements and you will need to have strong letters of recommendation.

Applicants with an undergraduate Computer Science degree from a U.S. ABET accredited Computer Science program are not required to provide GRE scores, if their GPA is 3.0 or higher. All other applicants must send their GRE scores to CSUN.

Please note that the CSUN Admission & Records Office does not forward applications 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 CSUN Admissions & Records Office.

Conditionally Classified and Classified Graduate Status

Students who are accepted to one of the Computer Science Department's Masters programs, but who have not completed the undergraduate prerequisite material, are admitted to the program as conditionally classified. To become classified a student must fulfill the following conditions: (1) completion of the prerequisite undergraduate course work with a 3.0 grade point average; (2) completion of University requirements for classified status, including the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam; (3) approval by the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Prerequisites for Classified Status

If accepted to one of the graduate programs with conditionally classified status, the following prerequisite courses for that program must be completed, while maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA. You can receive credit for equivalent prerequisite classes taken at accredited colleges or universities outside CSUN. Many of these classes are also available at local community colleges and other nearby universities. Transfer credits will be evaluated by the Department.

You may take graduate classes while working on your undergraduate prerequisites, however, you may not take COMP 696C and COMP 698C before you have obtained classified status. Also, up to 9 units of graduate level work with a grade of B or better can be transferred from another institution, subject to University and Departmental approvals.

Prerequisites for Computer Science MS Degree

UnitsCourse Number(s)Course Title(s)
4COMP 110, 110LIntroduction to Algorithms and Programming
4COMP 182, 182LData Structures and Program Design
3Phil 230Symbolic Logic I
10Math 150A, BMathematical Analysis I and II (Calculus)
3COMP 222Computer Organization
3COMP 333Concepts of Programming Languages
3COMP 282Advanced Data Structures
4COMP 256/LDiscrete Mathematics
3COMP 310Automata, Languages and Computation
4COMP 322, 322LIntroduction to Operating Systems and System Architecture
3COMP 380, 380LIntroduction to Software Engineering
3Math 482Combinatorial Algorithms
3English 306Report Writing (required only when GRE Verbal and/or Analytical Writing scores are below the 50th percentile)

Prerequisites for Software Engineering MS Degree

UnitsCourse Number(s)Course Title(s)
10Math 150A, BMathematical Analysis I and II (Calculus)
4COMP 110, 110LIntroduction to Algorithms and Programming
4COMP 182, 182LData Structures and Program Design
3COMP 222Computer Organization
3COMP 282Advanced Data Structures
4COMP 256/LDiscrete Mathematics
3COMP 310 
or COMP 333
Automata, Languages and Computation 
or Concepts of Programming Languages
4COMP 322, 322LIntroduction to Operating Systems and System Architecture
3COMP 380, 380LIntroduction to Software Engineering
3Math 340
or Math 341
Introductory Probability
or Applied Statistics I
3English 306Report Writing (required only when GRE Verbal and/or Analytical Writing scores are below the 50th percentile)


Current Students

Once you have been accepted to one of the graduate programs offered by the Computer Science Department and become classified, you complete your graduate coursework and carry out your thesis work.

As part of your thesis work, you will complete a large project and prepare a Master's thesis. The work is carried out as part of a two course series, COMP 696C and COMP 698C, under the guidance of your advisor/committee chair and the other members of your committee.

Steps to Completing Your Thesis Work

  1. Become classified.
  2. Select a Computer Science Department faculty member who will agree to serve as your graduate advisor/committee chair.

    An important part of your graduate work is selecting an graduate advisor, who will serve as your committee chair. Your advisor may request that you take certain classes, complete a specific project, and/or follow certain guidelines when completing your thesis work. Choose an advisor, who will agree to serve as your committee chair, by speaking with members of the faculty whose research interests best match yours.

  3. Complete some of your coursework.

    Students often form a committee after having completed the core classes and having begun taking some electives.  This gives you the opportunity to choose some of your electives so they are relevant to your thesis topic. Do not wait to form your committee until you have completed all your course work because you may be asked by your committee to take additional classes that pertain to your thesis work.

    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 degree program. No time limit applies to courses taken to satisfy prerequisites.

  4. Prepare a proposal.

    The proposal must be typed, is typically about 5 pages long, and should be free of spelling, grammatical, and typographical errors. Prepare your proposal with the care and precision you would any important document.

  5. With the help of your committee chair, select your committee members.

    Committees must be composed of at least three people, including your committee chair. Aside from the committee chair, another Computer Science faculty member must serve as a committee member. The third member may be from any department, including Computer Science. Normally this member is from the College of Engineering and Computer Science, but may be from any department at CSUN or from off-campus. If you select an off-campus individual to be your third committee member you must first obtain the graduate coordinator's approval.

    Discuss with each committee member what they expect in your thesis and the procedures to follow in seeking their approval. Before agreeing to serve on your committee, faculty members will want to read and approve your proposal.

  6. Obtain approval and submit your proposal to the graduate coordinator for official filing.

    Your committee chair and the graduate coordinator must sign and approve your proposal.

  7. Complete the Planning Form through the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) system.

    All committee members, including your committee chair, must agree to serve on your committee by approving your planning form on the ETD system. Also, the graduate coordinator must approve the committee on ETD. Once this is complete you will have officially formed a committee.

  8. Enroll in and successfully complete COMP 696C.

    To enroll in COMP 696C, an R-form must be completed and approved. To receive credit for COMP 696C, a proposal must have been approved by your committee and the graduate coordinator, a committee must have been formed, and all your project work must be complete.

  9. In a following semester enroll in and successfully complete COMP 698C.

    To enroll in COMP 698C, an R-form must also be completed and approved.

  10. Attend at least two other defenses. Complete and submit V-forms, thesis attendance forms, to the graduate coordinator.

    All graduate students must visit two Master's defenses before presenting their own defense. You should bring a blank V-form to the defense you visit, so that you may fill it out and get the appropriate signatures.

  11. Prepare and submit your thesis.

    Thesis drafts will be reviewed by your committee chair numerous times throughout your final semester. As a minimum, submit a thesis draft to your committee chair for final review by the beginning of the ninth week of classes of the semester you intend to graduate. Submit the final review draft of the thesis to all members of the committee by the end of the twelfth week of the semester in which you wish to graduate.

    Follow the steps outlined by the ETD system for submitting the final draft of your thesis. The Graduate Office will contact you if formatting changes need to be made to your thesis.

  12. Defend your thesis.

    To schedule your defense consult with you committee members and find a good day and time. Prepare and submit a Defense Announcement Form to the Department office, at least one week before the scheduled date of defense.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between conditionally classified and classified status?

    A conditionally classified student has been accepted by the Computer Science Department, but still must satisfy some prerequisites before becoming classified. A classified, also called fully classified, student is eligible to do graduate level work and is presumably on course to obtaining a Master's Degree.

  • Can I take graduate level classes before I am classified?

    Yes, except COMP 696C and COMP 698C, which can only be taken after you have classified status.

  • Can I repeat courses to improve my GPA?

    With prior permission of the Graduate Coordinator you may, for the purpose of improving your grade, repeat up to 6 units of credit in a program of study in which a grade of B- or below, or a grade of U, was achieved. (Graduate Studies has also been allowing undergraduate prerequisites to be repeated, but repeating a prerequisite class counts towards the 6 unit limit.) In such cases only the most recent grade will count. A specific course can be repeated only once.  You must submit the Course Repeat Form for Graduate Students before you repeat the course.

  • Can I transfer graduate courses?

    Subject to the graduate coordinator's approval and the regulations described in the CSUN catalog, you can transfer up to 9 units of graduate work. This includes classes taken through "open university."  A major criterion for approval is that the course you wish to transfer was available for graduate credit at the university where the course was taken. If approved, you must arrange for the transcripts to be sent to the CSUN Admissions & Records Office.

  • How long can I take to complete the graduate work?

    The basic limitation is that any units earned more than 7 years before the date you plan to graduate will not count. The 7 year period starts at the time of receiving the grade and continues until the filing for graduation. It also applies to transferred graduate level courses (CSUN or transferred), but not to any prerequisite classes.

    When working on your thesis you may receive an RP grade. You have at most two years to remove any RP grades, which effectively gives you a maximum of two and a half years to complete your thesis.

  • Do I have to take a class every semester?

    No. You can be on academic leave for two semesters without any formality. However, if you do not register for a class for three consecutive semesters you will be dropped from the University mailing list and the Masters program. You will then have to reapply for admission to the University and the Masters program through the CSUN Admissions & Records Office. Your admission to the University will be determined by the rules and regulations that are in force at the time of this reapplication. The department will generally re-admit you provided you are in good standing (3.0 GPA minimum) and the academic leave did not exceed two years. Note that you will have to retake all expired graduate classes over the seven year limitation.

  • How can I remove a probation?

    By bringing your GPA to 3.0 or above.

  • What do I do if I am disqualified?

    You must see the graduate coordinator for advisement. You must apply for reinstatement, through the graduate coordinator.