The Master of Computer Science (MCS)

The MCS is a non-research, course-based program for students who wish to enhance their careers with advanced knowledge of computer science. The requirements described here are in addition to the University-wide requirements for master's degrees described in the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College, Section X.

Course Requirements
     Foundations
     Systems Requirement
     Colloquium Requirement
     Elective Courses
Software Engineering Subtrack
Final Semester/Graduation
Academic Registration Requirement
Academic Standing
     MCS Plan of Study Form
Petitions

 

Course Requirements

The MCS requires a minimum of 32 semester hours of coursework beyond the bachelor's degree. This includes 2 semester hours of CS:6000-Colloquium and 10 additional courses (3 or more semester hours each).

Foundations

All MCS students are required to take one of the following for a total of 3 semester hours:

CS:4330 Theory of Computation 3 s.h.
CS:5340 Limits of Computation 3 s.h.
CS:5350 Design and Analysis of Algorithms 3 s.h.
Systems Requirement

All MCS students are required to take one of the following courses for a total of 3 semester hours. New or alternative offerings may, from time to time, be designated as also satisfying this requirement.

CS:5610 High Performance Computer Architecture 3 s.h.
CS:5620 Distributed Systems and Algorithms 3 s.h.
CS:5810 Formal Methods in Software Engineering 3 s.h.
CS:5850 Programming Language Foundations 3 s.h.

Colloquium Requirement

All MCS students must accumulate at least 2 semester hours of CS:6000, the CS Department Colloquium Series. Students enrolled in CS:6000 are graded S/U. Students must attend at least 80% of scheduled talks to get a satisfactory score for the course. Please be aware that, occasionally, colloquia may occur on days and times other than when CS:6000 is normally scheduled.

Elective Courses

MCS students should fill the remaining semester hours with a combination of directed readings, CS graduate courses, and non-CS graduate courses approved by their advisor and subject to the following constraints:

  • at least 6 courses (18 semester hours) of “didactic”1 CS graduate-level courses;
  • at most 1 CS graduate-level “readings” course (CS:5990 or CS:6990); and
  • at most 2 technical courses (approved by the advisor) that are not CS graduate-level courses. (Here CS graduate-level course refers to any CS course numbered 4300 or above.) Of these, at most one course may be one of the following 3000-level CS course: CS:3330 Algorithms, CS:3620 Operating Systems, CS:3640 Introduction to Networks and Their Applications, CS:3820 Programming Language Concepts, taken during the first year in the MCS program.

Software Engineering Subtrack

The Computer Science Department, with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, offers a subtrack in software engineering within the MCS program. Students completing CS:5800 Fundamentals of Software Engineering, CS:5810 Formal Methods in Software Engineering, CS:5820 Software Engineering Languages and Tools, and CS:5830 Software Engineering Project, receive a Software Engineering subtrack designation on their transcript. See the Academic Services Coordinator to file the appropriate paperwork when applying for the degree at graduation, if you were not originally accepted into this program.

Final Semester/Graduation

Besides the Application for Degree, MCS students must complete a Non-Doctoral Plan of Study Summary Sheet, found on the Graduate College website at https://www.grad.uiowa.edu/content/publications-and-forms-for-students with the help of the Academic Services Coordinator and filed by the appropriate deadline.

Academic Registration Requirement

The Graduate College has explicit residence requirements that must be satisfied in order to obtain the MCS. Of the minimum 32 semester hours required for the degree, at least 24 semester hours must be completed after admission to a UI graduate program. Various forms of extramural registration may qualify toward fulfillment of the aforementioned 24 semester hours residence requirement. See the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College, Section X (D), and Section II (G).

Academic Standing

Students must maintain a minimum 2.75 grade point average to remain in good standing with the Graduate College. Falling below that level will result in academic probation at the collegiate level. The Department requirements are more stringent -- MCS students must maintain a grade point average of 3.00 and must demonstrate academic progress towards the degree. A student placed on departmental probation for failing to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 shall be given a written explanation of the reasons for this action, along with a reasonable time-period of time (typically one year) within which the student shall take corrective action or be dismissed from the graduate program. For details, see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College.

A policy defining procedures to be followed in the dismissal of students from graduate programs has been approved by the Board of Regents, and are contained in the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College; found on the web https://www.grad.uiowa.edu/manual-part-1-section-iv-academic-standing-probation-and-dismissal#1.4.E.

MCS Plan of Study Form

Each student is responsible for maintaining an up-to-date MCS Plan of Study document on file with the Academic Services Coordinator. The MCS Plan of Study is used to track student progress throughout the program, and should be updated each semester in collaboration with the student's advisor. It is also used to complete the Graduate College’s Plan of Study summary document when preparing for graduation.

Petitions

Students may submit petitions to the Director of Graduate Studies for deviations from the requirements outlined here. The petition form is available online at https://cs.uiowa.edu/graduate-programs/forms.

 

[1] Any CS course numbered 4300 or higher, excluding CS: 5110, CS:5900, CS:6000, CS:6990, and CS:7990

 

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