Non-thesis Option

Non-thesis students develop their professional skills to prepare them for employment or further graduate study. They pick a diverse set of Specializations to develop their skills, with a set of CS Core and electives to flesh out their study. Under the guidance of a major professor and guiding committee, they demonstrate their mastery via a comprehensive exam and possible professional project.

Program of Study

For the non-thesis MS program, the program of study requires 31 graduate credit hours:

  • 4 hours (1 course + seminar) in the CS Core (Seminar & Theory)
  • 9 hours (3 courses) in the Primary Specialization
  • 6 hours (2 courses) in the Secondary Specialization
  • (Optional) 3 hours of Directed Project (CSE 8080)
  • 9–12 free hours (3–4 courses)

Any required courses in the Core or a Specialization previously completed by a student may be applied for completion and replaced with another free course of the student’s and committee’s choosing. Students cannot have more 6xxx level credits then 8xxx credits on their final program of study and majority of credits must have course code CSE. See the Graduate Handbook for additional course policies.

Core

The CS Core ensures students are prepared for graduate study and have a background in computer theory suitable for a graduate in computer science.

  • One Seminar Course: CSE 8011: Seminar
  • One Theory Courses: CSE 8833: Algorithms, CSE 8813: Theory of Computation, or CSE 8843: Complexity of Sequential and Parallel Algorithms.

Classes designated as theory by the faculty can in advance can be used to substitute for the theory requirement on a case-by-case basis.

Specializations

Specializations allow students to chose where to focus their studies; these specializations delve deeper into research areas of the department. Students choose two specializations to complete: A primary specialization where they take three courses, and a secondary one where they take two courses. Other courses required to fulfill the credit requirements of the degree are left up to the student and their Graduate Committee.

For each Specialization, there is a required introductory course and list of split-level (6xxx) and full graduate (8xxx) affiliated courses. Which courses must be completed depends on whether the Specialization is Primary or Secondary:

  • The Required course must always be completed. If the student completed an equivalent course in previous study, another course of the committee's choice may be substituted.
  • For the Primary Specialization, a full graduate course and another course at either level in the specialization must be completed.
  • For the Secondary Specialization, one course at either level in the specialization must be completed.

The student’s Graduate Committee has final approval of all applicable courses. Currently approved Specialization courses are listed below; others may be used given a committee's approval.

Artificial Intelligence Specialization
  • Required: CSE 6633: Artificial Intelligence
  • Split Level: CSE 6643: AI Robotics
  • Graduate Level: CSE 8613: Cognitive Skill Models, CSE 8673: Machine Learning
Computational Science Specialization
  • Required: CSE 6163: Design of Parallel Algorithms
  • Split Level: CSE 6623: Computational Biology
  • Graduate Level: CSE 8163: Parallel and Distributed Scientific Computing, CSE 8843: Sequential & Parallel Algorithms
Graphics Specialization
  • Required: CSE 6413: Principles of Computer Graphics
  • Split Level: CSE 6453: Game Design
  • Graduate Level: CSE 8413: Visualization, CSE 8433: Advanced Computer Graphics
Human-Centered Computing Specialization
  • Required: CSE 6663: Human Computer Interaction
  • Graduate Level: CSE 8283: Empirical Software Engineering, CSE 8613: Cognitive Skill Models
Software Engineering Specialization
  • Required: CSE 6214: Introduction to Software Engineering
  • Split Level: CSE 6223: Management of Software Projects, CSE 6233: SW Architecture & Design, CSE 6253: Secure Software Engineering, CSE 6283: Software Testing & QA
  • Graduate Level: CSE 8233: Software Engineering Project Management, CSE 8253: Software Design, CSE 8275: Software Requirements Engineering, CSE 8283: Empirical Software Engineering
Systems Specialization
  • Required: CSE 6153: Data Communication & Computer Networks
  • Split Level: CSE 6173: Cryptography, CSE 6243: Information & Computer Security, CSE 6273: Introduction to Computer Forensics, CSE 6363: Software Reverse Engineering, CSE 6383: Network Security
  • Graduate Level: CSE 8713: Advanced Cyber Operations, CSE 8743: Advanced Network Security, CSE 8753: Wireless Networks

Other Graduate Hours

Students have 9 additional credit hours (12 if Directed Project was not taken) of graduate coursework of their choosing that are not tied to Core or Specializations. The only restrictions is that CSE 8000 Thesis Research or any Ph.D. level (9xxx) courses cannot be applied.

Directed Project

A non-thesis student my further develop their professional skills by taking a Directed Project (CSE 8080) under the direction of their major professor. This replaces three credit hours (1 course) from their elective portion of their study.

The first step in developing a project is to write a formal project contract. The contract should specify the goals of the project, a list of the deliverables, and must be signed by the student and committee before commencing CSE 8080. The student will then work on the project. While it may take more than one semester to complete the project, CSE 8080 can only be taken once.

At the end of the project (usually the end of CSE 8080), a final report with deliverables must be prepared. The report must follow the same format as theses and dissertations, as specified in the latest edition of the Standards for Preparing Dissertations and Theses available from the Library and departmental requirements, except that the approval page should include the signatures of the student's Graduate Committee only; a LaTeX template is provided by Dr. Ramkumar.  A copy of the original project contract should be included in an appendix. Deliverables of the project (user guides, design documents, etc.) can be included as appendices, but normally will be separate documents. The format of any deliverables (user guides, technical manuals, etc.) not included as appendices shall be as appropriate for the client of the project. Deliverables included as appendixes must follow the same form and format as the report.

Comprehensive Exam

The non-thesis option of the computer science Masters degree program requires that the degree candidate successfully demonstrate mastery of graduate material. At the end of the program, the student will sit for a comprehensive exam covering their graduate coursework; students with a Directed Project will focus on defending their project and its relation to their coursework. The guidelines below supplement, but do not supersede, those provided by the Graduate School; see their guidelines for additional details such as the deadlines, exam process, and so on.

For students electing this option, the following steps must be followed:

  1. If doing a Directed Project, the student develops a project contract at least one semester before graduating. A copy of this contract will be kept by the CSE office.
  2. The semester before their anticipated graduation, students should review their Program of Study via CAPP on Banner to ensure all coursework will be completed.
  3. Upon completion of their project and coursework (or within 6 hours of completing), the student must schedule their exam. Part of this process requires students to complete the Graduate Exit survey for the College. Contact the CSE office to schedule the exam.
  4. The student will sit for the exam with their major professor and committee. The exam will go over their graduate studies, with focus on courses related to the project for those doing a Project. The student will be asked to give a presentation on their Directed Project or on some other major classwork for non-Project students.
  5. The student graduates once the Comprehensive Exam has been successfully passed and coursework concluded.

Directed Project Format Requirements

The report must follow the same format as theses and dissertations, as specified in the latest edition of the Standards for Preparing Dissertations and Theses available from the MSU Office of Graduate Studies, and departmental requirements, except that the approval page should include the signatures of the student's Graduate Committee only.

A copy of the original project contract should be included in an appendix. Deliverables of the project (user guides, design documents, etc.) can be included as appendices, but normally will be separate documents. The format of any deliverables (user guides, technical manuals, etc.) not included as appendices shall be as appropriate for the client of the project. Deliverables included as appendixes must follow the same form and format as the report.

Previous Catalogs

For students that were admitted before the current Graduate Catalog, please refer to the Catalog archives for relevant information on your program of study: