CYSO Thesis Option

Thesis students, in collaboration with their major professor, thesis director, and guiding committee, chooses a research area when enrolled. This research area is supported by their coursework chosen and then fleshed out in subsequent research hours. This work culminates in a thesis document and defense shared with the community of scholars.

Program of Study

For the MS program without thesis, the program of study requires 31 graduate credit hours:

  • 22 hours (7 courses + seminar) in the CYSO Core
  • 3 hours (1 course) of a CYSO Elective
  • 6 hours (2 courses) of CSE 9000: Thesis

Any required courses 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 must have at least 9 8xxx credit hours (3 8xxx level courses) on their final program of study; as such, their elective must be at the 8xxx level. The majority of credits must have course code CSE. See the Graduate Handbook for additional course policies.


The CYSO core introduces students to fundamental areas in computer security. These courses explore the nature of computer and information security, how to find security breaches in disks, and network/cryptographic protocols.

  • CSE 8011: Graduate Seminar
  • CSE 6243: Information & Computer Security
  • CSE 6173: Cryptography
  • CSE 6253: Secure Software Engineering
  • CSE 6383: Network Security
  • CSE 6363: Software Reverse Engineering
  • CSE 8713: Advanced Cyber Operations
  • CSE 8753/ECE 8823: Wireless Networks

CYSO Electives

A student must take an additional 3 hours in pre-approved security electives. This elective be replaced with an approved CSE 7000: Directed Individual Study, counted at the 8xxx level. Similarly, the security elective course can be replaced by a special topics 8990 by committee permission. The student’s Graduate Committee has final approval of all applicable courses.

  • CSE 8473: Advanced Network Security
  • ECE 8753: Distributed Systems

Thesis Hours

Graduate students must complete at minimum 6 credit hours of graduate research, indicated by CSE 9000 sections under the direction the major professor or thesis director. Thesis hours representing work as a TA or RA cannot be used for this purpose (unless the RA position is tied to the relevant research).

Thesis & Defense

The thesis (research) option of the CYSO Masters degree program requires that the degree candidate successfully undertake an independent research project and present the results of the research in a defensible thesis document. These guidelines supplement, but do not supersede, those provided by the Graduate School; see their guidelines for additional details such as the deadlines, exam process, submission steps, format for the dissertation, and so on.

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

  1. The student develops a thesis proposal with the major professor containing:
    • An introduction to the research being proposed and research goals/questions addressed.
    • A review of the relevant research in the area and discussion of the research's relevancy/motivation.
    • A proposed approach to completing the research including hypotheses, proposed research methodology/procedures/experiments, and potential publication plan.
  2. The major professor schedules a research proposal session with the students Graduate Committee and gains Committee approval of the proposed research.
  3. The semester before their anticipated graduation, students should review their Program of Study via CAPP on Banner to ensure all coursework will be completed.
  4. Upon completion of the research, the student submits a draft copy of the thesis document to each member of his/her Graduate Committee. This draft copy is must be distributed to the committee members at least one week prior to the planned date of the presentation. All suggestions and concerns should be resolved under the direction of the major professor.
  5. When the student is ready to defend the thesis and be examined, the major professor schedules the presentation and examination. The thesis presentation is open to all students and faculty. The presentation is followed immediately by an oral examination of the student that is open only to the members of the student's Graduate Committee (and the research director).
  6. Once the student has made all changes to the thesis document requested by the committee members and the committee members and the Graduate Coordinator have signed the approval page, the student submits a signed copy of the approval page to the departmental office. Approval of the thesis proceeds from the committee, to the Graduate Coordinator of the Department, and thence to the Dean of Engineering. After all approvals are obtained, the student must submit an electronic copy of the thesis to the Library for final approval.

The Library provides guidelines for the format of theses. Dr. Ramkumar provides a LaTeX template for those wishing to use it, under the disclaimer that Library guidelines are the primary source of formatting and must be consulted at all times.

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: