MS in Computer Science
Master’s degree in Computer Science (MCSC) at Louisiana State University − Baton Rouge is a versatile and innovative program that offers a wide range of opportunities to students. This program with various concentrations and options aims to give students the educational, training and research skills, and experiences they need to be successful in the many fascinating computer oriented jobs that exist today. It can also serve as a stepping-stone towards pursuing a doctoral study in computer science. The curriculum covers core topics such as theory of computation, algorithm, operating systems, programming languages, networks, computer graphics, databases and analytics, and software development. In addition, the student may choose a systems-related specialization area and application of the techniques from these core areas.
M.S. Degree Requirements and Timeline
All LSU Graduate School (http://gradlsu.gs.lsu.edu) regulations and procedures apply. In addition, the rules and requirements set by the Division of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) apply. It is the student’s responsibility to read and understand all requirements such as course work, exams, time limitations, and residency requirement. The basic process for satisfying the degree requirements for MS in Computer Science (for full-time students) is as follows:
The student upon entering the program meets the Graduate Advisor of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Division who will serve as his/her primary mentor during the first year. The Graduate Advisor assesses the student's curriculum requirements and helps him/her schedule courses. A orientation/reception by the CSE Division is held in the beginning of every semester to welcome new graduate students and introduce them to the graduate study rules and regulations, active research areas, and other opportunities.
The student files a "Plan of Study" specifying his/her concentration area and thesis/project option with the Division’s graduate office in the first semester. By default, the student will enroll in the "Core Computer Science" concentration. Any subsequent changes must be officially documented.
The student takes all three core courses in the first year (enrolled in, at least, one core course in his/her first semester) and also takes electives (other courses). Note that each core course is normally offered once a year. He/she enrolls in the seminar class (CSC 7800).
The student must form the project/thesis committee consisting of the Major Professor (a professorial faculty from the CSE Division) as the chair and 2 other members.
The student enrolls in the remaining courses (electives) as required by the concentration and the option chosen. He or she is supervised by his/her Advisor (Major Professor) and the advisory committee in the second year. A thesis/project topic must be approved by the Major Professor. The project/thesis work must begin in the 3rd semester or earlier, and must span for two consecutive semesters (register only for 3 credit hours in CSC 7090 or 6 credit hours in CSC 8000 each semester).
The student usually takes the Final Exam (oral defense) toward the end of the second semester. The thesis/report must be submitted to the committee 2 weeks in advance, and the exam must be announced 3 days prior to the exam date.
M.S. Study Policies
Course Work and Project/Thesis Hours
The Master’s degree requires a minimum of 37 hours of credit at the gradual level. These include credit hours on both the course work and project/thesis. The core requirement consists of 3 courses (worth for 9 credit hours), one from each category below:
- Algorithms (CSC 7300) or Theory of Computation (CSC 4890)
- Programming Languages (CSC 4101 or CSC 7101) or Operating Systems (CSC 4103 or CSC 7103)
- Databases (CSC 4402 or CSC 7402) or Machine Learning / Data Mining (CSC 4444 or CSC 7333 or CSC 7442)
The student must pass each core course with an B- or better grade, otherwise the course must be repeated or a different core course should be taken. Note that these courses are mostly offered once year, and the student must take at least one core course in his/her first semester. The student must also earn credit in CSC 7800 Research Seminar in the first year.
The thesis option (CSC 8000) requires 12 credit hours whereas the project option (CSC 7090) requires 6 credit hours. The student must form an advisory committee and get the approval of the committee chair (major professor) prior to beginning the thesis/project work.
Electives depend on the concentration and option chosen. The default is " Core Computer Science" concentration with a project option. The choice also includes "Systems Science" concentration and "Computational Science" concentration. Seven electives (21 credit hours) for the project option or five electives (15 credit hours) for the thesis option must be chosen from the student's area of concentration. The maximum number of interdisciplinary electives from other departments allowed is two (6 credit hours) for "Core Computer Science" concentration and is four (12 credit hours) for other concentrations. For each concentration and option, at least half of the courses (including both core and electives taken) must be at the 7000 level. A complete list of courses can be found from the Graduate Advisor and the Division website. Also, the student may enroll in CSC 7999 but it does not substitute an elective, i.e., it does not count for the degree.
Continuity and Residency Requirement
A MS student must maintain continuous registration for courses and project/thesis hours as specified in his/her plan of study. Should the student alter his/her plan of study (e.g., substitute courses for those listed on the form), a request for change must be made. If a student can not pass each of three core courses with B- or better grade after a second attempt, he/she will be dropped from the program. After the approval of the plan of study, the student begins to fulfill the residency requirement, which consists of two successive semesters of full-time course work. The Graduate Advisor in conjunction with the Graduate School must approve any transfer credit.
The advisory committee for the project/thesis work must be formed by the end of first year so that the student can take the project/thesis hours in his/her third semester. The Major Professor or Advisor serves as the chair of the committee, which has two or more other members. An adjunct professorial faculty or a faculty from other department can serve only as the co-advisor/co-chair thereby requiring a regular CSE faculty serving as the co-advisor/co-chair. At least, the chair/co-chair and one other member must be regular CSE faculty. All the committee members including chair/co-chair(s) are chosen from the Graduate Faculty in Computer Science and Engineering. At least, two committee members must be full members of the Graduate Faculty while the other members can be full or associate members of the Graduate Faculty. The committee must be approved by the Chair of the CSE Division, and then approved by the Dean of the Graduate School.
Each student is responsible for his/her own progress through the program. A thesis/project topic must be approved by the Major Professor (advisory committee chair). The project/thesis work must begin in the 3rd semester (or earlier) and span for two consecutive semesters (register only for 3 credit hours in CSC 7090 or 6 credit hours in CSC 8000 each semester). Registration for additional hours in CSC 7090 and CSC 8000 is allowed only with approval by the committee and the Graduate Advisor.
Final Examination (Project/Thesis Defense)
It is expected that the MS student is able to conduct independent project/research on a significant problem in the field of computer science. For this reason, each student must prepare project/thesis report describing original, independent work and submit it to his/her advisory committee. The student defends the work in a public oral examination (called the MS Final Exam or MS Defense) before his or her advisory committee. The other students and the faculty may also attend the seminar. Final approval by the full advisory committee and approval by the Graduate School constitute completion of the requirements for the Master’s degree. The student must submit his/her report to the committee at least 2 weeks before the exam date. The room, time, and date of the exam, and the title and abstract of the MS project/thesis, must be announced in advance at least, 3 working days before the exam. Failure to follow this policy is sufficient cause for postponement of the exam.