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M.S. in Computer Science

NEW: Online M.S. Degree

This coursework-only option can be completed completely online via our partnership with Coursera. To learn more about our fully online M.S. degree, visit Coursera. This program does not require an application or GRE.

Application to the School of Computing’s on-campus Computer Science MS program requires official GRE scores for both US and international applicants. This requirement cannot be waived.

Additionally, students applying to the Computer Science M.S. should know that School of Computing funding is reserved for Ph.D. study. Because of this, applicants admitted to the Computer Science M.S. should expect to pay full tuition. A database of external funding opportunities is available.

The Master of Science in Computer Science, available at Clemson, Greenville, and Charleston campuses, prepares individuals for a Ph.D. program, research careers in industry, or advanced technical positions in industry and government. The program is designed for students who offer evidence of above-average scholastic ability at the undergraduate level.

Completion of the M.S. program normally requires from one and one-half years to two years beyond the undergraduate degree but may require additional time for students whose undergraduate degree is in an area other than computer science. For students awarded assistantships, two academic years are usually required for the completion of the M.S. degree.

Background Requirements for Admission

For students to be accepted into the M.S. program, including the approval of an M.S. en route to a Ph.D. degree, they must have a background equivalent to the MSCS Ready sequence. Students without the necessary background should either first apply as non-degree students and complete the MSCS Ready sequence, or they should complete the equivalent of MSCS Ready before applying as a degree-seeking student. Questions related to application and selection can be sent to

Degree Requirements

The requirements for the M.S. are based on 30 credits, which may be obtained through either:

  • 30 credits of coursework
  • 24 credits of coursework and 6 credits of M.S. thesis research (CPSC 8910)

The Coursework-Only Option

In this option, a student is required to complete ten approved courses. There is no thesis presentation or comprehensive examination required for the degree.

The Thesis Option

The thesis option is designed for students who have a strong interest in research and who can complete an original and creative research project. The quality of the research and presentation should be such that the thesis or a derivative work is acceptable for publication in a refereed conference proceeding or archival journal.

The final examination is an oral examination conducted by the student's Advisory Committee. The student is expected to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of both the research results presented and the pre-existing body of knowledge that the results extend.

Of the 30 credits required for graduation, the thesis-option student must have 6 credits of CPSC 8910. The student must also meet the Concentration and Breadth Requirements as defined below in the remaining 24 credits of coursework. A student may take more than six credits of CPSC 8910, but only six credits may be applied toward the degree.

Concentration and Breadth

During the M.S. program, the student will choose a concentration of study in one of six core areas and will choose courses in at least two other core areas for breadth:

  • Data Science and Informatics
  • Foundations and Theory
  • Human-Centered Computing
  • Networks, Systems, and Security
  • Software Engineering
  • Visual Computing

Concentration Requirement: Each student must take at least three courses in one core area. These courses can be selected from the courses listed in the table below or from approved CPSC 8810 special topics courses in that area.

Breadth Requirement: Each student must take one course in at least two other core areas.

Core Area Courses
MS Core Area Courses (CPSC unless marked HCC)
Data Science and Informatics 6300, 6420, 6430, 6550, 6620*, 8420, 8430, 8450, 8470, 8480*, 8490, 8620*, 8630, 8650
Foundations and Theory 8380, 8390, 8400, 8480*, 9400
Human-Centered Computing CPSC 6110*, 6120, 6140, 6150, 6160*, 6180*; HCC 6400, 6510, 8310, 8330, 8410, 8500, 8510
Networks, Systems, and Security 6180*, 6200, 6240, 6280, 6440, 6620*, 6770, 6780, 8200, 8220, 8240, 8510, 8520, 8550, 8570, 8580, 8620*, 8830, 8860
Software Engineering 6160*, 6720, 8270, 8280, 8290, 8700, 8710, 8720, 8730, 8750
Visual Computing 6030, 6040, 6050, 6110*, 6160*, 6170, 6190, 8030, 8050, 8110, 8190

* CPSC 6110, 6160, 6180, 6620, 8480, and 8620 span core areas but will count in only one core area each

For the course titles of each course, please see courses of instruction. For syllabi, please see the syllabus repository.

Course Selection

Computer Science M.S. students can enroll in a maximum of 12 credit hours per Fall and Spring semesters.

There are four considerations when selecting courses for an M.S. plan of study.

6000/8000/9000-Level Credits: For coursework-only students, at least 18 of the 30 credits must be at the 8000- or 9000 level. For thesis students, at least 21 of the 30 credits must be at the 8000- or 9000-level. For thesis students, six of their 8000/9000-level credits will be CPSC 8910.

Courses Outside the School of Computing: Coursework-only students may include up to 12 credits of approved courses from outside the School of Computing. Thesis students may include up to 9 credits of approved courses from outside the School of Computing.

Transfer Credits: Both coursework-only and thesis students may include up to 9 credits of approved computing courses transferred from another university. Transfer courses will be counted among the approved courses outside the School of Computing but will be listed as CPSC 6999 or CPSC 8999 on the student's GS2 plan of study.

Course Exclusions: Of the 30 credits of approved courses required for graduation, students may not include credits for CPSC 6810, 6890, 74xx, 8880, 95x0, 9810, or 9910; DPA 6000-6030, 6810-6830, 8600, 8800, or 8910; or HCC 8880, 9500, or 9910. Additionally, only six credits of CPSC 6820 or CPSC/DPA/HCC 8810 can be included, with the exception of CPSC 8810 MSCS Ready modules, which cannot be counted toward the Computer Science M.S. 30 credit requirement. Coursework-only students may not include credits for CPSC 8910.


Each student must submit three course-related assignments and accompanying self-reflection prior to your advisory committee being approved. Please see the M.S. Assessment page for details.


For advising, please make an appointment with Prof Carrie Russell here - Book time with Carrie L Russell

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