Master of Science in Computer Science < San Francisco State University (2024)

Program Description

All students share breadth requirements in the areas of computing foundations, computer systems, and software development. Students focusing on different areas then differ in the choice of courses that provide depth in the chosen area and the work done for the culminating experience. Students are expected to decide on a focus area prior to enrollment in the second semester. Integrated into the curriculum are significant team and project experiences. There are two options for the mandatory culminating experience, the master’s thesis or the applied research project.

The grading method CR/NC is allowed only forCSC895orCSC898. All other courses listed on the Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) form must be a letter grade.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate a breadth of knowledge in Computer Science, as exemplified in the areas of systems, theory, and software development.
  2. Students will demonstrate the ability to conduct a research or applied Computer Science project, requiring writing and presentation skills which exemplify scholarly style in Computer Science.

Elective Requirements

All students are required to include elective credits in their program. Electives include:

  • All upper-division or graduate courses offered by the Computer Science Department, including breadth requirement courses andCSC897andCSC899.CSC893may not count as an elective course.
  • Courses from other programs such as biology, engineering, business, or mathematics may be accepted with the approval of the graduate advisor and culminating experience supervisor.

Note:A maximum of 6 units of upper-division courses (numbered below 700) may be applied to the degree with the consent of the course instructor and graduate advisor.

Graduate Seminar Requirement

In addition to curricular requirements, prior to enrolling inCSC895/CSC898, all graduate students are required to attend the Department Graduate Seminar series during one semester of their studies. These weekly seminars explore current topics in computer science research and assist students with choosing a topic for the culminating experience. Details for meeting this requirement may be found in theGraduate Studies Policy section.


This 1-3 unit option is chosen by students who wish to enhance their master’s degree by completing an industrial practicum. After finding the job in the local industry, the student will submit a research proposal to the department’s supervisor (normally the department chair) that describes the expected work and learning outcome. The department’s supervisor must approve the proposal before the student begins the research. Once approved, the student will enroll in 1 unit ofCSC893. At the conclusion of the work experience, the student must file a written report outlining the research and work experience. The report is submitted to the department’s supervisor. Students may repeatCSC893for a maximum of 3 units. The total number of units for the degree for students who complete theCSC893practicum option will be 33 units. It is recommended that this option be pursued only during the summer.

Note:CSC893allows international students to obtain permission to work off-campus for the duration of the course.

Admission to Program

Admission to the graduate program in Computer Science is a two-step process that should be completed simultaneously:

  1. Apply to San Francisco State University:Complete the on-line CSU Mentor application. Follow all other requirements for admission to the University by
  2. Apply to the Department of Computer Science graduate program:Full details can be found at

We encourage students with four-year degrees other than Computer Science to apply to our program as conditional applicants. Please check the link in Step 2 above for details.

Financial Assistance

Graduate assistantships are occasionally available for qualified master's students. These opportunities include participating in funded research projects, assisting with the management of departmental and university computer laboratories as well as lecturer positions for beginning undergraduate computer science courses. Frequently, there are internship opportunities available for work at local companies. International students should address all questions related to their visa status and eligibility for practical training (off-campus work) to theOffice of International Programs.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One

Computer science students admitted to the M.S. program are required to satisfy English Level One prior to the end of their first year of study at SF State. Level One is satisfied by obtaining either a score of 4 or better on the GRE Analytical Writing Exam or a passing grade inSCI614.SCI614is strongly recommended for all students who wish to develop their skills in professional writing.

Level Two

The second level of proficiency in written English must be demonstrated before graduation. At this time, the student must demonstrate writing skills that exemplify scholarly style in computer science. This is demonstrated by the master's thesis or the research project report.

Policy on Enrollment While Conducting Directed Research

Pursuant to Policy F89-165 adopted by the Academic Senate in 1989, the Computer Science Department has adopted the policy that all graduate students who are working with a research advisor (above and beyond general advising during office hours) and/or having his/her thesis or project reviewed, must enroll in at least 1 unit ofCSC895,CSC897,CSC898, orCSC899. Registered students will have priority for departmental computing resources.

Computer Science (M.S.) – 30 units minimum

Core Requirements(9units)

Computing Foundations (3 units)

Select one:

Course List
Code Title Units
CSC810Analysis of Algorithms II3
CSC825Advanced Automata Theory3

Computer Systems (3 units)

Select one:

Course List
Code Title Units
CSC720Advanced Operating Systems3
CSC746High-Performance Computing3
CSC845Advanced Computer Networks3

Software Development (3 units)

Select one:

Course List
Code Title Units
CSC780Application Development for Mobile Devices3
CSC831Multiplayer Game Development3
CSC848Software Engineering3
CSC868Advanced Object Oriented Software Design and Development3

General Requirement (9 units)

Three 3-unit courses drawn from any 700-800 level Computer Science courses not used to meet a core or elective requirement.700-800 level courses paired with 600 level courses require an advisor’s approval. CSC899 may not count towards this requirement.

Electives (6 units)

Two upper-division/graduate 3-unit electives selected on advisem*nt.

Practicum Option (0-3 units)

Up to 3 units of CSC893 Supervised Industrial Research on advisem*nt.

Culminating Experience (6 units)

Select one:

Course List
Code Title Units
CSC899Independent Study3

Select one:

Course List
Code Title Units
CSC895Applied Research Project3
CSC898Master's Thesis3
Master of Science in Computer Science < San Francisco State University (2024)
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