Graduate Program - Master of Computer Science

The Master of Computer Science program is a terminal professional degree program. The degree is based on course work and attendance at colloquia. No research, thesis or comprehensive examination is required. MCS students are normally self-supported, and some enroll on a part-time basis.


A summary of the curriculum requirements for the Master of Computer Science is below:

Requirement Credit Hours
Core courses 9
Orientation Course (CSC 600) 1
Computer Science graduate electives 12
Computer Science graduate electives, or other “restricted” electives 9
Total 31

Completion of the curriculum requires 31 graduate credits. All incoming MCS students must register for an orientation course: CSC 600 (Computer Science Graduate Orientation).

At least three courses must be taken from the following list of core courses, one taken from one category, and two taken from the other category:

CSC 720 may be substituted for CSC 520 and CSC 573 may be substituted for CSC 570. Special topics courses (CSC 59x or 79x) may not be used to satisfy core course requirements.


  1. At least 21 hours must be in graduate 500- and 700-level Computer Science courses (note: the Graduate School does not allow 500- and 700-level courses to be taken pass-fail).
  2. "Restricted elective" courses may be any graduate letter-graded (500- or 700-level) course within the College of Engineering (including Computer Science), or within the College of Sciences. Exceptions that will *not* count towards graduation:
    • ST 511(if taken after Spring 2014)
    • special topics courses (including EGR 590) in departments other than Computer Science (if taken after Fall 2012).
  3. All Computer Science credits must be at or above the 500 level.
  4. To graduate, a student must have at least a 3.00 grade point average (GPA). In addition, for students beginning their degree on or after Fall 2013, the GPA in the group of courses used to satisfy the core course requirement must be at least 3.0 as well. For additional Graduate School requirements regarding degree completion see the Graduate School Handbook.
  5. A maximum of four special topics courses (either CSC 591 or CSC 791) may be counted towards graduation (for students beginning Fall 2012 or later).
  6. Registration by MCS students in Independent Study (CSC 630) requires approval by the faculty member who will supervise the work, followed by submission to the DGP of a one page written description of the topic and expected outputs, and approval of the DGP. A grade of "S" will require submission of a report describing the work done, and the results obtained. A maximum of three credits of CSC 630 may be counted towards graduation.
  7. Minors are neither required nor permitted.

Advisor and Plan of Graduate Work

An academic advisor assists all MCS students with Graduate School procedures, and answers questions about courses and requirements. MCS students fill out a Plan of Graduate Work showing the courses they intend to take.


There are no comprehensive examinations required for the MCS degree.

Continuous Enrollment and Time Limits

The Graduate School has a continuous enrollment policy. While pursuing a graduate degree, the student must be registered every Fall and Spring semester until completion. Otherwise, a student must request an official leave of absence from the Graduate School.

All masters students must complete their degree requirements within six (6) calendar years of starting their program.

Colloquium Attendance

Many times each semester, researchers from inside and outside the University make hour-long public presentations on their work. Each MCS student must attend four such presentations during the course of their degree, for which they check in using their NC State ID and submit an online Colloquium Attendance Form for each. A schedule of seminars and colloquia in Computer Science may be found here.


Many of our Masters students take internships, either full-time (usually, during the summer) or part-time (during the academic year). International students who are required to be registered full-time during the academic year, must meet the following requirements to be eligible for an internship:

  1. They must have completed two semesters of study and be in good academic standing with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  2. Students with a GPA between 3.0-3.2 must receive approval from the DGP or their graduate advisor before accepting an internship offer.
  3. Students must be registered in at most three graduate-level courses during a semester in which they plan to engage in a part-time internship (20 hours or less).
Patent Agreement

Graduate students must sign a statement agreeing to abide by the University's patent policies. This statement is now part of the Graduate Plan of Work. Patent and copyright procedures of NC State are available here. Students wishing to be exempted due to policies of their companies should contact the university's Office of Technology Transfer at 919-515-7199.

The Accelerated Bachelors-Masters (ABM) Degree

The ABM degree program combines bachelors and masters degrees, and is intended for high-achieving undergraduates (completion of at least 75 credit hours, with GPA of at least 3.5) in the Department of Computer Science . Four graduate courses taken while still in the undergraduate program may be “double-counted” for both degrees, allowing the masters degree to be earned in two semesters beyond the bachelors. Prospective students must be reviewed and recommended by the Computer Science Undergraduate Advisor, and then apply to the Graduate School for admission into a graduate degree, program to follow immediately upon completion of their Bachelors degree. Please see the Computer Science Undergraduate Advisor to start this process. If approved, the student must prepare a Plan of Work form that shows what courses will be double-counted, and what courses are proposed for completion of the degree in two semesters (MCS without thesis). More information about the program and the requirements is available in the Graduate School Handbook.

Pursuing PhD Studies

MCS students wishing to pursue PhD studies should start by contacting the DGP. You will be asked to provide new letters of recommendation (including from a prospective advisor), and a revised statement of purpose. To be considered for financial aid from the department, you should apply at roughly the same time as external applicants.

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