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Department of Computer Science


Master of Science Degree in Computer Science

The Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Computer Science offers integrated studies involving software and hardware. A thesis option is available for students who wish to obtain research experience. The Department of Computer Science also offers a Concentration in Computer and Information Security and a Concentration in Software Engineering as part of the Master of Science degree.

The regulations for this degree comply with the general University regulations (refer to Chapter 2, General Academic Regulations, and Chapter 4, Master’s Degree Regulations).

Admission Requirements. In addition to satisfying the University-wide graduate admission requirements, a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science equivalent to that offered by UTSA is required. Students who do not qualify for unconditional admission may be admitted on a conditional basis. Students who are admitted on a conditional basis may be required to complete specific undergraduate courses as conditions of admission. If such courses are listed as deficiencies, they will not count toward the graduate degree. In such cases, students should anticipate that additional time will be required to complete the degree.

Degree Requirements. Candidates for the degree are required to successfully complete a minimum of 36 semester credit hours of graduate coursework as described in the program of study.

Program of Study

  1. Core courses (12 semester credit hours):

    CS 5363    Programming Languages and Compilers
    CS 5513    Computer Architecture
    CS 5523    Operating Systems
    CS 5633    Analysis of Algorithms

  2. Electives (18 semester credit hours):

    Students must complete at least 18 semester credit hours of additional eligible graduate courses, 12 hours of which must be in the Department of Computer Science. With prior approval of the Graduate Advisor of Record, students may apply a maximum of 6 hours of graduate courses from other disciplines to the degree.

  3. Master’s thesis or additional electives (6 semester credit hours):

    Students must either write a master’s thesis and enroll in a minimum of 6 semester credit hours of CS 6981-3 Master’s Thesis or complete 6 hours of additional graduate coursework in the Department of Computer Science.

  4. Final oral examination:

    Students must pass a final comprehensive oral examination for completion of the degree program.

Concentration in Computer and Information Security

This concentration gives an overview of issues in computer and information security along with detailed technical experience in several specialty areas. All students pursuing this concentration must fulfill the degree requirements for the Master of Science in Computer Science. As part of the electives for the degree, students must take the following course:

CS 5323    Principles of Computer and Information Security

and 2 courses selected from the following list:

CS 5343    Developing Secure Systems and Software
CS 6353    Unix and Network Security
CS 6373    Applied Cryptography
CS 6393    Advanced Topics in Computer Security

Concentration in Software Engineering

This concentration gives students a broad knowledge of current theories, models, and techniques in software engineering to provide a basis for problem identification and analysis, software design, development, implementation, verification, and documentation. All students pursuing this concentration must fulfill the degree requirements for the Master of Science in Computer Science. As part of the electives for the degree, students must take the following course:

CS 5103    Software Engineering

and 2 courses selected from the following list:

CS 5123    Software Testing and Quality Assurance
CS 5153    User Interfaces and Usability
CS 5343    Developing Secure Systems and Software
CS 6133    Software Specification and Verification
CS 6193    Advanced Topics in Software Engineering



Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Computer Science

The Department of Computer Science offers advanced coursework and research leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Computer Science. Successful Ph.D. candidates must demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of computer science and must deliver an original contribution to the field.

The regulations for this degree comply with the general University regulations (refer to Chapter 2, General Academic Regulations, and Chapter 5, Doctoral Degree Regulations).

Admission Requirements. The minimum requirements for admission to the Doctoral degree program in Computer Science in addition to University-wide graduate admission requirements are as follows:

  • a B.A., B.S., or M.S. degree in computer science or a related area;

  • the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test—verbal, math, and analytical sections. The GRE computer science subject test is strongly recommended but not required. When GRE scores are used to determine admission, applicants will be compared to applicants with similar socioeconomic backgrounds; and

  • three letters of recommendation attesting to the applicant’s readiness for doctoral study.

Admission is competitive. Satisfying the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission. An application should also include a résumé and a statement of research experience and interest. Applicants will automatically be considered for scholarships, and teaching and research assistantships.

Degree Requirements. Candidates for the degree are required to successfully complete a minimum of 90 semester credit hours of graduate coursework as described in the program of study.

Program of Study

  1. Core courses (12 semester credit hours):

    CS 5363    Programming Languages and Compilers
    CS 5513    Computer Architecture
    CS 5523    Operating Systems
    CS 5633    Analysis of Algorithms

  2. Electives (18 semester credit hours):

    Students must complete at least 18 semester credit hours of additional eligible, organized graduate courses in the Department of Computer Science.

  3. Computer science research (42 semester credit hours minimum):

    CS 7123     Research Seminar (6 semester credit hours minimum)
    CS 7211-6  Doctoral Research (18 semester credit hours minimum)
    CS 7311-6  Doctoral Dissertation (18 semester credit hours minimum)

  4. Flexible Electives (18 semester credit hours):

    Students must complete an additional 18 semester credit hours selected from organized graduate courses, independent study, research seminar, doctoral research and doctoral dissertation. With prior approval of the Graduate Advisor of Record, students may apply a maximum of 6 hours of graduate courses from other disciplines to the degree.

Transfer of Credit. Students may transfer prior graduate study up to 30 semester credit hours from another institution toward the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Computer Science with the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee. Each student’s transcript will be evaluated by the Graduate Studies Committee, and credit will be determined on a course-by-course basis to satisfy the requirements of the degree.

Advancement to Candidacy. Students seeking a doctoral degree must be admitted to candidacy. The requirements for admission to candidacy include passing a Doctoral Qualifying Examination and a Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Examination. Students should consult the University’s Doctoral Degree Regulations (Chapter 5 of this catalog) for other requirements.

Qualifying Examination. Before a student can register for CS 7211-6 Doctoral Research or CS 7311-6 Doctoral Dissertation, the student must pass the Doctoral Qualifying Examination. The rules and procedures governing the Doctoral Qualifying Examination are described in the Computer Science Ph.D. Program Handbook.

Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Examination. After a student has passed the qualifying examination and has made progress in doctoral research, the next step is the Doctoral Dissertation Proposal. The student has to form a Dissertation Committee chaired by the student’s doctoral advisor and prepare a written proposal for a dissertation topic. The Dissertation Committee will conduct an oral examination during which the student presents the dissertation proposal. The presentation is followed by a period of questioning based on the dissertation proposal. Unanimous approval of the Dissertation Committee is required to pass the oral examination. No more than two attempts to pass the oral examination will be permitted. After a student has passed the Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Examination, the student must register for CS 7311-6 Doctoral Dissertation every semester until the student completes the degree.

Doctoral Dissertation and Final Oral Examination. After a student has passed the Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Examination, the next steps are writing a dissertation and passing the Final Oral Examination. The Final Oral Examination is administered and evaluated by the student’s Dissertation Committee and covers the dissertation and the general field of the dissertation. The Final Oral Examination consists of an open presentation of the dissertation followed by an oral examination. Unanimous approval of the Dissertation Committee is required to pass the Final Oral Examination. Also, the dissertation must be unanimously approved by the Dissertation Committee.

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