In addition to meeting the Lyle School of Engineering degree requirements for an M.S. degree, candidates are required to satisfy the following:
- Either 24 credit hours of coursework and a master’s thesis or 30 credit hours of coursework.
- Twelve credit hours of core courses. Students on campus are required to register for a seminar course (for zero credit hours) for at least one term and secure a grade of Pass.
- Six credit hours of concentration. Thesis students take six credit hours of thesis, instead of concentration.
- Twelve credit hours of electives. All students are allowed to take at most three credit hours of independent study, which will be counted as one elective course.
The CSE Department requires that the courses taken constitute a coherent program leading to mastery of computer science. These requirements are discussed in the subsequent subsections. Any deviation from the stated requirements must be approved in writing from the student’s adviser and department chair.
Students entering the program without an undergraduate degree in computer science must satisfy the following competency requirements in addition to the degree requirements listed above:
- The ability to write programs in a high level language such as Java, C++, Python, etc.
- Demonstrate competence in six core areas of computer science.
Students may fulfill (1) by either:
- Demonstrating their programming ability in a departmental examination.
- Successful completion of CSE 1341 - Principles of Computer Science.
- Obtaining a certificate of achievement from EDX (or comparable entity) in one of the high‐level programming languages (e.g. Java, C++, Python).
Students may fulfill (2) by demonstrating competence in the following core areas of Computer Science:
- Computer Architecture
- Programming Languages
- Data Structures and Algorithms
- Database Management Systems
- Operating Systems and Concurrency
- Networks and Distributed Systems
Competence in core areas may be demonstrated by one of the following:
- Completing a course from an ABET Accredited program that covers a core area.
- Obtaining 70% or better on a departmental examination that covers a core area. Exams will be based on a set of specified readings published by the Computer Science & Engineering Department and should be taken prior to beginning of the first semester.
- Completing and passing one or more of the following core‐area courses:
CSE 7101 - Foundations of Computer Architecture
CSE 7102 - Foundations of Programming Languages
CSE 7103 - Foundations of Data Structures and Algorithms
CSE 7104 - Foundations of Database Management Systems
CSE 7105 - Foundations of Operating Systems
CSE 7106 - Foundations of Networks and Distributed Systems
These courses are 1 credit hour each, are offered pass-fail and do not count toward the 30 hour degree requirement. The grade for the course will be based on several assignments and a final examination.
Residency and Level Requirements
A minimum of 30 graduate credit hours must be earned toward an M.S. degree, of which at least 24 must be earned in residency at SMU. Up to six credit hours may be transferred with departmental approval.
Of the 30 credit hours needed for graduation, at least nine credit hours must be at the 8000 level, with the remainder at the 7000 level or above. For the 8000-level courses, at least six credit hours must be CSE courses.
Distribution of Courses
Courses are considered to be core, concentration or elective. Core courses cover material considered fundamental to graduate-level computer science and are required of all students. Each student is expected to specialize in some area of computer science. The concentration area is a mechanism by which a student can tailor a coherent program of study to his or her interests. Electives are courses taken to round out the 30 credit hour requirement. Transferred credit hours may be used to satisfy any of these requirements. The specific requirements are discussed in detail in the following subsections.
A student who elects to take the nonthesis option must take 12 credit hours of core courses, six credit hours of concentration and 12 credit hours of electives. The electives may be selected from available graduate-level course offerings in the Lyle School of Engineering, subject to the residency and level requirements and adviser approval. Those who elect to take thesis option will substitute the concentration with thesis credit hours.
Electives may be selected from available graduate-level course offerings in the Lyle School of Engineering, subject to the residency and level requirements and adviser approval.
A student may elect to write a master’s thesis, which counts as the six credit hours of concentration. The student must register for at least six credit hours under CSE 7(1–6)96. If the thesis option is chosen, all other requirements are the same. The six credit hours of thesis satisfy six of the nine required credit hours for advanced courses.
A master’s thesis represents one or more of the following: synthesis of divergent ideas or a scholarly critique of current literature, a creative research activity or a significant design project, the results of which must be documented in a well-written thesis. The thesis should be of publishable quality, and it is recommended that it be submitted to an appropriate conference or journal before the thesis defense.
A thesis must be supervised by a faculty adviser selected by the student. Any full-time faculty member supporting the student’s concentration area may serve as the thesis adviser. It is the student’s responsibility to find an adviser willing to provide a thesis topic or willing to supervise a topic of the student’s choosing.
Once the student has found an adviser and a topic has been selected, the student and adviser should jointly form a thesis supervisory committee. This committee must consist of at least three members, two of whom must represent the concentration area. The adviser chairs this committee. The makeup of this committee must be approved by the chair of CSE and the director of the Graduate Division.
The student must provide the members of the committee with a written thesis proposal. Typically, this will be done before faculty agrees to serve on the committee.
A thesis is judged by the supervisory committee based upon technical merit, originality and presentation. The thesis must be presented orally to the committee at a thesis defense. A copy of the thesis must be made available to each member of the committee at least two weeks before the planned defense. The defense must be scheduled with the CSE department office and posted on appropriate bulletin boards. The defense is open to the public.