Computer Science


graduate Program

Computer Science Graduate Program
Frequently Asked Questions for Graduate Students Seeking Admission

Sample Test-Out Questions for CSCI 591, CSCI 592, CSCI 593
Master's Level Course Transfer form (docx)

Master of Science in Computer Science

The Department of Computer Science & Information Technology offers an MS in Computer Science, a BS in Computer Science (accredited by the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board) and a BS in Applied Computer Science.  Faculty research areas include:

Algorithms and Data Structures
Computer Security
Computational Geometry
Computer Networks
Distributed Systems
Parallel Computing
Software Engineering

Compilers & Language Processing
Theory of Computation
Computer Graphics
Database Systems
Evolutionary Computation
Graph Theory & Application
High-Performance Scientific Computing

Students have access to a variety of computing facilities, including a Sunfire 280R running Solaris and several workstations running Windows and Linux.  Computing labs provide students access to these computers, the Internet, and supercomputing facilities in the Twin Cities.  Research and project labs are equipped with Sun, Silicon Graphics and DEC Alpha workstations.

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Admission to the School of Graduate Studies

Graduate applicants please visit:

Admission to the Computer Science MS Program:

To be admitted, an applicant must have completed an undergraduate program in computer science, or its equivalent, with a GPA of 3.0 or better and must have competitive GRE scores.  Additionally, to be fully admitted, applicants must have taken courses that cover:

Non-linear data structures; sorting and searching algorithms
Computer architecture - hardware organization, I/O interface, interrupt mechanisms
File systems - hashed, indexed, ISAM files; B-trees; external sorting
Programming language concepts - design and implementation
Operating system concepts - process, memory and file system management; device handlers
Finite mathematics and modern algebra

Applicants found deficient in any of these areas may be required to successfully complete one or more of CSCI 591, 592 or 593 before receiving full admission to the program.

Financial Aid:

Graduate students may apply for assistantships, scholarships and financial aid funds. Academic year assistantship stipends depend on assignment and period of appointment. 

Assistantships include tuition assistance for up to eight graduate credits per semester dependent on if the assistantship is for 10 or 20 hours per week. Tuition assistance will not cover undergraduate courses, nor is it available during the Summer Semester. 

Degree Requirements

Master of Science:  Computer Science (non-teaching):

An applicant for this degree must have completed the equivalent of a four-year undergraduate degree with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better and must have a competitive GRE score.  Fully qualified applicants will have taken courses that cover the following topics:

  • Non-linear data structures; sorting and searching algorithms
  • Computer architecture:  hardware organization, I/O interface, interrupt mechanisms
  • File systems: hashed, indexed, ISAM files; B-trees; external sorting
  • Programming languages: design and implementation
  • Operating systems: process, memory and file system management; device handlers
  • Finite mathematics and modern algebra

Applicants found deficient in any of these areas will be required to successfully complete one or more of CSCI 591, 592 or 593 before receiving full admission to the major.

Students must select an advisor and a degree plan and submit a Program of Study before completing 18 credits (usually before the end of the second semester of course work).  Students can choose one of two degree plans:  Plan A, which requires a thesis and a minimum of 30 credit hours, or Plan B, which requires a “starred paper” and a minimum of 32 credits.

Guidelines for Internship

Students are encouraged, but not required, to complete an internship experience during their course of study.  These experiences will be of 4 to 8 months duration (spring semester extending possibly into summer, or summer extending into fall).  After the internships, students must return to campus and register to complete their starred papers/theses.  International students will use the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) provision to complete the internship.

An internship should complement your academic program and provide relevant experience in your chosen career field.  To help insure that you register and get credit for an internship that satisfies these goals, do the following:

Before the internship:

  • You must submit to the internship coordinator:
  • the name, mailing address, and telephone number of your supervisor-to-be
  • your work address and telephone number, if different from your supervisor’s
  • a letter from your supervisor-to-be describing your duties
  • a completed “Approval Form for Independent Study and Arranged Courses
  • obtain permission from your faculty advisor before you register for the internship

During your internship:

A visit from the internship coordinator at your workplace is desirable.  If so, a visit with your supervisor should be included.  Every week, a report of your activities must be uploaded to your D2L Brightspace account for the course.

After your internship (and before you receive a grade):

You must submit to the internship coordinator:

1. An evaluation of your performance from your supervisor

2. A report describing your internship experience – your report must be typewritten, single-spaced, with one-inch margins all around.  It must contain the following:

  • The name and location of the company you worked for and a brief description of the nature of its business.

  • The name of the department/section you worked in and a brief description of its mission within the company.

  • A reasonably detailed description (3 to 4 pages) of the work you did during your internship – do not include any proprietary information in your report. If you are in doubt, check with your supervisor.This section will also document what specific problems you faced and how you resolved them.(This could, in effect, be a summary of the diary/log that you maintained).Include a summary of any new skills you acquired, and how you acquired them (self-study, workshop, etc.), how long the process took and what difficulties you faced in the learning process.

  • A description of your preparedness for the internship. Include the following three items:

    1. A list of the CSCI courses you took before the internship

    2. A list of those courses that significantly contributed to your internship work – explain briefly why they were helpful

    3. Courses that you feel you should have taken or prior knowledge that would have better prepared you for your internship

3. A description of how your internship relates to your academic and career goals.

If you have any questions, please contact the Computer Science Department Chairperson in ECC-139b.

Guidelines for MS Project/Thesis

Note:  These requirements are from the Department of Computer Science & Information Technology.  In addition to these, the Graduate School has requirements for starred papers and theses.  Please refer to the SCSU Graduate Bulletin for graduation school requirements.

Selecting a Research Advisor:  The first step in the research process is to select an advisor.  After coming to a mutual agreement with a faculty member to work with on the project/thesis, the student should complete the form for changing the advisor.

Formation of the Committee:  Number of faculty members in the committee should not be less than three.  There is no maximum.  The committee should include at least one tenured full professor/associate professor from the Department of Computer Science & Information Technology.

A faculty member from outside the department may serve on the committee only if his or her expertise matches the content of the thesis.  If an external faculty member serves as the thesis advisor, the committee must have a graduate faculty member from computer science to serve as a co-advisor.  In such an event, it is the co-advisor who will sign the student’s proposed plan of study (also known as “the blue form”).  After formation of the committee, the members may not be changed without good reason.  In case of any change, the advisor and department chair must be notified.

Registering for the Research Course:  Students will register for their research course by filling out an independent study form.  The course #697 (3 credits) is used for starred papers and 699 (6 credits) is used for thesis. The student must register for these courses with the research advisor.  In both cases students will be simultaneously enrolled in a semesterless D2L Brightspace course.

Students cannot register for research, independent studies, thesis, or starred paper without permission of their thesis advisor or starred-paper advisor.  Students may register only for maximum of 1 credit of research (697 or 699) before defending the proposal.

Regular Meetings with Advisor/Committee:  During the formation of the proposal and during the research, regular meetings should be held between the student and the advisor/committee.  The number and frequency of such meetings is decided by mutual agreement, but the advisor may require up to 15 meetings that occur at least once in 2 weeks.  In general, faculty may not be available in summer and students should take this into account when planning their activities.  After each meeting, a brief report describing the progress should be uploaded.  If there is a disconnect between the expectations of the student and the advisor, it is expected that these differences will be resolved during these meetings.

Guidelines for Proposals & Research

  • The proposal must clearly describe the project being completed.
  • The proposal must justify the relevance of the project in the context of an MS in Computer Science.
  • The proposal document must include an abstract, introduction, timeline, and cited references.
  • The student must meet with the advisor at regular intervals.  Significant progress must be made between meetings and this progress must be carefully logged in each interim report.
  • The final document (starred paper or thesis) must cite background content from multiple sources and must incorporate an annotated bibliography that specifically addresses the significance of the references to the project.

ProposalsThe graduate faculty of the Department of Computer Science & Information Technology must be notified of the defense at least seven days prior to the presentation.  This notification may be sent by the advisor or by the department secretary and must include an electronic link to the proposal.  (In the event that this will be done through the department secretary, sufficient allowance must be made to allow for delays in the office. The student will be ultimately responsible for ensuring that the communication is sent out in a timely manner.)  After the defense, a final version of the proposal must be submitted to the department chair, as a hard copy.

Contents of Thesis/Starred Paper:  A thesis must contain original work, whereas a starred paper need not. A starred paper can be for instance, a survey of or an introduction to an area, a historical summary of developments in an established area, etc.  Thesis students may be required by their advisor to submit their work to a journal or conference.  Starred paper authors are encouraged to do so.

Final SubmissionA copy of the final draft of the paper or thesis must be distributed among committee members at least three weeks prior to the defense of the starred paper or thesis.  This draft must be in the proper thesis/starred paper format.  The date and time of the defense must be announced via email to all graduate faculty, and the department secretary two weeks in advance, along with a link to the draft

The faculty members not on the committee are expected to respond to the paper in a timely fashion.  They should speak about their concerns with the advisor as well, especially if the concerns are substantial.  Any other concerns must be brought to the defense.

Public Presentation:  The student will arrange a public presentation in consultation with the committee.  This presentation will take place when the research is completed, within a week of the final defense.

Department of Computer Science & Information Technology Policy on Intellectual Property Rights with Respect to an M.S. Starred Paper or Thesis:  Students should be aware of the following:

  • A Starred Paper or Thesis must be publishable; for instance, by the department as a technical report, on the internet, as a conference proceeding, or as a journal article.
  • When you write your paper, you are expected to clearly cite the sources for various ideas in your paper.  Quotations are also to be clearly indicated and the source cited.  The sources must be available to the general public; such as in IEEE or ACM journal articles.  Using the internal documents of a company that you worked for as a source is thus not acceptable. (See the Library for various guide books on how to cite sources.)
  • If you previously worked for a company or are currently working for a company and want to use some of that work within your paper, that company may view that work as their intellectual property and place restrictions on what you are allowed to do with that work outside of the company.  In general the department discourages use of such material.  However, if you decide to use such material, it is your responsibility to obtain appropriate written permissions from the company(ies) involved.
  • When you are working in a company, you may be doing your work within the context of a project along with several other people.  It is difficult for faculty to verify exactly what your individual contribution was to the total project and hence whether your work is appropriate for a Starred Paper / Thesis.

Since it is infeasible for the faculty to verify that all material in your paper / thesis has been obtained in a proper fashion, we require you to fill out and sign a form which assigns responsibility to you for the intellectual property content of your paper.  In almost all cases, the student should be in a position to sign this form.  However, if there are exceptional conditions associated with some research work, this form may be modified appropriately in consultation with the advisor, graduate coordinator, and the department chairThis form is to be completed very early in the search for a topic.  Preferably, this will be when the independent study form for the related 69x class is completed.  At the latest, it must be completed before the proposal for the Starred Paper / Thesis is finalized.  The proposal will not be forwarded to the department if this requirement is not satisfied.  A signed copy of this form will be bound into the final report. Ask for this form in the Computer Science Office, ECC-139.

               See the Library for various guide books on how to cite sources.

Computer Science Courses

Computer Science Graduate Faculty

For the 2010-2011 academic year, our graduate faculty members are:

Andrew Anda, Ph.D., University of Minnesota (high performance scientific computing)
Teresia Fisher, Theresia Fisher, M.S., North Dakota State University (computer ethics, software engineering, artificial life)
Donald Hamnes, Ph.D., University of Minnesota (distributed systems, operating systems, database)
Jayantha Herath, Ph.D., Keio University, Yokohama, Japan (computer architecture, distributed & parallel computing)
Pranava Jha, Ph.D., Iowa State University (algorithms and graph theory)
Bryant Julstrom, Ph.D., University of Iowa (evolutionary computation, expert systems)
Jie H. Meichsner, Ph.D., Tohoku University, Japan (neural computation, parallel computing)
Sarnath Ramnath, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo (algorithms, computational geometry, object-oriented design)

Where to Get More Information

For additional information about our Computer Science Masters Degree program, contact:

School of Graduate Studies - St. Cloud State University
720 Fourth Avenue South, AS-121
St. Cloud, MN 56301-4498
Telephone: (320) 308-2113
Email Address:
Web Address:

Department of Computer Science & Information Technology Untitled Document