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The Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) at Channel Islands (CI) offers education in cutting edge theory and practice. The program prepares students for careers in high-tech, computer and Internet-driven industries, businesses, education systems, military, and local and federal government where interdisciplinary, dynamic and innovative professionals trained in latest data analysis, security, and surveillance technologies are increasingly sought. Students are given a strong background in Computer Science and Mathematics, as well as practical skills necessary to develop industrial-grade systems as well as to conduct independent applied and theoretical research.

Admission Process

Students seeking admission are expected to have an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, Mathematics, Science, Engineering, or related fields. Candidates with undergraduate degrees from other disciplines will be considered on a case-by-case basis and may be conditionally accepted. The conditions will usually include taking a selection of foundation courses in Computer Science and Mathematics as prescribed by the admission committee.

The applicant is expected to have a 2.75 or higher cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA). A Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is recommended, but not required. Applicants with high GPA and strong support letters can still be admitted. Two letters of reference are required.

Foreign candidates should contact CI's Center for International Affairs to find out what are the additional requirements for international students.

The admission process is handled by the Admission Office of CI's Extended University. Please note that the Admission Office does not forward applications to the Computer Science Program until it receives all transcripts and supporting documentation. The program admission committee is not able to evaluate an application before receiving the file from the admission office.

Transfer of Credits

The program director may grant up to 9 credits for graduate Computer Science courses taken at CSUCI outside of the MSCS program or from another university if:

  • the university is accredited,
  • the student scored B or better,
  • the course was taken in the last five years, and
  • the student provides an official transcript.

The actual number of credits assigned by the director of the program is determined by comparing the courses taken elsewhere to equivalent courses offered by CSUCI.

Good Standing Requirement

Students must remain in good academic standings with at least a B grade in all their graduate work.

Graduation Requirements

To obtain the degree, an MS Computer Science student must:

  • complete minimum 32 units of graduate coursework including:
    • 24 units of graduate coursework with at least 18 units designated as “COMP”; the remaining 6 units may be “COMP” or another graduate designation; e.g., “MATH” or “PHYS”; at least 15 units must be taken while matriculated at CSUCI,
    • minimum 2 units of COMP599,
    • minimum 6 units of COMP597 or 3 units of COMP596 plus one additional COMP500-level elective,
  • complete each course with grade of B or better,
  • defend a MS thesis or MS project with a passing grade.

Option 1 - Master Thesis

The first option students have is MS Thesis. A document called a thesis represents the culmination of your graduate work. You will include the findings of your research in the thesis and defend them before a three-person committee consisting of at least two professors, where at least one of the professors is a faculty in Computer Science at CI. You will select a thesis supervisor that will be acting as a chair of the committee. The supervisor guides you throughout your research, advises on writing and decides when you are ready for the defense. Theses defenses consist of a presentation of the results of your research that is open to the public. The second part of the defense is restricted to the members of your committee.

In a nutshell, you will need to:

  • select a research topic - as soon as possible,
  • select a research supervisor, who will become the chair of the committee,
  • write a proposal for the thesis and submit it to the chair,
  • invite two other members for the committee: one internal and one at large (internal or external),
  • conduct the research,
  • report the research in a document that includes data analysis and thesis evaluation, and
  • obtain supervisor's approval to distribute the thesis to the examination committee no later than one month before the defense.

Students are encouraged to typeset their thesis documents in LaTeX, but are free to use any other typesetting tool (e.g., MS Word, OpenOffice, or Mac OS X Pages). It is important that the front three pages that include the thesis acceptance form do not change except for the names of the members of the examination committee as shown in this sample template (PDF).

Once a thesis has been completed and successfully defended, it is the student’s responsibility to gather all required components and submit them via email to the Director of their Master’s program. Refer to the Thesis Submission Procedure for a complete list of next steps: https://compsci.csuci.edu/degrees/mscs/eu-ms-thesis-submission-procedure.pdf (PDF, 86KB) .

Students are encouraged to publish the results of the master thesis in regional, national, and international scientific gatherings.


Your research proposal needs to be accepted by the chair of the committee before you are eligible for the candidacy status. To be granted the status, you will need to submit to the administration office a formal Candidacy Form(PDF) that has to be signed by the thesis supervisor and by the program director. As a candidate, you will be allowed to register in the Master Thesis course (COMP597).

It is expected that you will have taken all other required courses before you enroll in the Master Thesis class, so you can focus on the research.

Thesis Defense

After enrolling into COMP597 Master Thesis, you will work with your supervisor until the supervisor decides that your research and the thesis document are ready for a defense before your thesis committee. You will go through numerous revisions of your work, as not only the core research, but also the presentation of the results is important. It is expected that your work will be publishable, so your supervisor may ask you to write a summary of the work in a form of a conference or journal paper. A paper is not a required element of your thesis, however.

After your supervisor instructs you to go ahead with the distribution of the thesis, you need to distribute the drafts to all members of the committee. At this time, your supervisor should schedule the defense giving the committee approximately one month to review your thesis.

For defense, you will have to prepare roughly one-hour presentation that will be open to the public. It should consist of the following segment as applicable:

  • introduction,
  • demonstration if available and feasible,
  • analysis of the results,
  • conclusions,
  • future,
  • Q&A.

After the presentation, in a session closed to public, the committee will ask some questions relevant to your thesis. Next, you will be asked to leave the room, so the committee can confer behind the closed door the overall quality of your thesis. After that relatively short meeting you will be asked to come back and the outcome will be communicated to you by the chair of the committee. The possible outcomes of the defense are:

  • accept with no changes,
  • accept with minor changes,
  • accept with major changes,
  • reject.

If your work is accepted with no changes or with minor changes, and all other requirements for the graduation have been met, then you will be granted the title of Master of Science in Computer Science. A request for minor changes will be handled between you and your supervisor. If you are asked to make major changes to your work, then you will have to re-submit a revised copy of the thesis to the committee for another review. In such case, your degree will have to wait until the committee accepts the changes. If the committee rejects the thesis, you will have to select a new research topic and a supervisor, and repeat the whole process satisfying the continuous registration requirement.

All members of the examination committee must sign the acceptance form after the deliberations. Subsequently, the Dean of the Extended University must sign the acceptance form as well on behalf of the University. The chair of the examination committee must deliver the acceptance page to the Extended University Office.

Thesis Publication

Master of Science in Computer Science theses are published by the CSUCI Library. Please refer to the Master’s Thesis Submission Procedure (PDF) for information on how and where to submit your thesis.

Option 2 - Master Project (COMP596)

A second option to completing the MSCS degree was introduced in the Fall 2021 Catalog Year. Students choosing this option will perform supervised research in the field of computer science or its applications. Students will chose an adviser with expertise in the student's chosen subfield of interest and work independently, under advisement of this instructor on completing the requirements set forth in the course syllabus. 

Additional COMP 500-level Elective

In addition to COMP596, students are required to take an additional COMP500-level elective. For students looking to transfer from MS Thesis to MS Project, it is important to note that COMP597 units do not satisfy elective units and any decision to covert COMP597 units to COMP596 units is at the discretion of the faculty adviser and students must still meet all the learning outcomes of COMP596.  

MS Project Outcome

The outcome of COMP596 is an original project, such as a software application with documentation, or a thorough literature review of an advanced area in computer science. The course will also satisfy the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) at the graduate level. 

MS Project Defense

Students are required to present their research during Graduate Seminar. The presentation will be scheduled in coordination with the COMP599 instructor and need not be during a semester where the student is enrolled in COMP599.

Students will prepare a 40-minute presentation (additional 10 minutes are allocated for questions and answers) consisting of the following segments:

  • introduction and background,
  • demonstration,
  • analysis of the results,
  • conclusions,
  • future work,
  • Q&A.

MS Project Grade

Master Project is a graded course with a minimum 'B' letter grade required for successful completion. If presentation takes place in a semester after a student is enrolled in COMP596, a letter grade of 'Incomplete' should be assigned until the student fulfills all learning outcomes.   

University Writing Assessment Requirement

To graduate, all graduate students must satisfy the University Writing Assessment Requirement. Here is a relevant excerpt from the CSUCI catalog:

Master of Science in Computer Science
Writing proficiency prior to the awarding of the degree is demonstrated by successful completion of COMP 597 Masters Thesis or COMP 596 with a grade of B or higher.

The requirement has been put in place to ensure that we educate professionals, who are not only technical experts in their respective fields, but also individuals that can convey knowledge and ideas to others in clear and coherent way. Communication skills are as important in the work-place as your technical skills.

To help students to master the effective writing, CSUCI has established a Writing Center to:

"...support all members of the CSUCI community with their writing at any stage of the composing process. Our peer writing tutors can assist students with academic projects, helping them to understand and brainstorm, organize their essays, develop and document their ideas, and learn to polish and edit their own papers. We offer a learning resource, not an editing service. Students are also welcome to bring in other types of written work, such as résumés and letters of application. The center's services are free of charge."

Please consider using the Writing Center; you will work more effectively with your advisor if you concentrate on the technical aspects of your thesis rather than polishing the language. You will benefit not only from learning how to write properly, but also you will get a faster feedback from your reviewers.

Graduation Process

Upon completion of all course requirements with good standings and a successful defense of the thesis, you will be granted a degree of Master of Science in Computer Science.
Any additional requirement for remedial work that had been assigned to you when you were admitted to the program has to be completed as well.

You will need to follow the following process to formally graduate from the university:

  1. Complete the Application for Degree and Diploma Form (available from the Records and Registration Forms Library and provided to you via email by Extended University) and submit it to the Extended University office along with a payment of a $50 fee. It is recommended that you meet with your Extended University Advisor to verify that you are on track to graduate before submitting the Application for Degree and Diploma.
  2. Upon completion of your required courses and successful submission of your thesis, Extended University will complete a review of all degree requirements by completing a program workup. It will also be verified that any additional documents that may be required, such as grade changes and course substitutions, have been completed.
  3. The Director will review the program workup and sign off for approval.
  4. The singed program workup will be submitted to Records & Registration, along with the thesis signature page to verify submission of thesis.
  5. Beginning three weeks after final grades have posted, Records and Registration will conduct a final review of all graduation requirements and will confer the MS degree.
  6. Approximately 10-12 weeks after the end of the term, you will be notified via dolphin email that your diploma has been ordered.

Deadlines for Graduation Paperwork:

  • Spring Graduation: October 1
  • Summer Graduation: October 1
  • Fall Graduation: March 1

If you need to defer your graduation (due to delay in thesis defense, incomplete coursework, etc.), you need to formally request that by submitting the Request for Change of Graduation Term Form (available from the Records and Registration Forms Library) and paying a $15 fee.


If you graduate by the Summer term, you can walk in the Spring commencement ceremony for that year; otherwise, you will walk in the Spring commencement ceremony in the following year.

Starting in Spring 2008, graduate students that defend their theses with distinction will be invited to celebrate their achievement during the Honors convocation. The thesis has to be defended prior to that event.

Educational Leave

A student has to register in at least one course in every second regular semester (Fall/Spring) to maintain matriculation. If a student does not register in any courses during two consecutive semesters (Fall/Spring), she or he looses the matriculation status and has to re-apply for admission to the program. If there are valid reasons for extended leave of absence time, then the student has to apply officially for one using the Academic Leave Form available from the Records and Registration Forms Library.

Continuous Registration

To accommodate student who fulfilled the requirement of 32 units necessary to graduate, but who still work on their theses, registration in COMP597 (Master Thesis) will be expanded beyond the required 6 units. The extension will require continuous registration in 1 unit of COMP597 per semester and will incur additional fees.

Job Opportunities in Teaching

Every semester the Computer Science program has several teaching assistant positions available to qualified students. Interested students should apply to the chair of the Computer Science program several weeks before the semester starts.

Graduate Advisor

Prof. Brian Thoms
One University Drive, Camarillo, CA 93012-8599
Phone: (805) 437-3713

Administration of the Program

One University Drive,
Camarillo, CA 93012-8599
Phone: (805) 437-2748
Web site: Master of Science in Computer Science

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