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Students must complete the following requirements to earn a graduate degree from the CS department.

Choosing an advisor

  • Choose an advisor by the beginning of your second semester after you have become acquainted with some of the faculty.
  • To declare an advisor or change your advisor, Fill out the Application for Graduate Change of Program, Degree, Emphasis, or Advisor.
  • After you turn in the form, your faculty advisor will be listed in myZou.

MS Degree (MS/CS)

All students completing a master’s degree must:

  • Earn a minimum of 30 credit hours of course work approved by the CS Department
  • At least 15 credit hours of course work should be numbered 8000 or above (CS 8990 Thesis Research credit is counted in the required 15 credit hours, but CS 8980 is not).
  • Have an overall graduate GPA at least 3.0 (out of 4.0).
  • Complete an independent project or thesis.


  • Courses taken in other departments (up to 6 credit hours) will be considered for approval as part of a student’s MS program. Written approval from faculty advisors or the Director of Graduate Studies is required prior to the student undertaking the coursework. Selected non-CS courses, such as ISLT 7360 and ISLT 7370, Intro and Intermediate Web Development, will not be counted. Transfer students may count six credits of previously taken graduate coursework with approval from faculty advisers or the Director of Graduate Studies. This policy is effective beginning Spring 2015.
  • Courses (numbered as both 4000- and 7000-level) that do not count toward your master’s
    • CS 4050/7050 Design and Analysis of Algorithms I
    • CS 4320/7320 Software Engineering I
    • CS 4410/7410 Theory of Computation I
    • CS 4430/7430 Compilers I
    • CS 4450/7450 Principles of Programming Languages
    • CS 4520/7520 Operating Systems I
  • If you have previously completed 4410, 4430 or 4450 at MU (and achieved a B or better), and you take a second course in this series at the 7000-level (and achieve an A or B), the second course may be counted in your graduate plan of study.

M.E. Degree

The requirements for the Master of Engineering degree are the same as those for the Master of Science (MS) in Computer Science degree with the following exceptions:

  • The student must complete at least 36 hours of graduate courses.
  • A minimum of 30 credit hours must be earned from University of Missouri System institutions.
  • At least 21 hours must be courses offered by the computer science department.
  • At least 15 hours must be 8000 level courses offered by the computer science department (excluding CS 8085).
  • CS 8980, CS 8990, and CS 9990 may not be taken.
  • A maximum of 3 hours of CS 8085 may be taken.
  • No final examination is required. Only the M1 Program of Study is submitted for this program.
  • The entrance requirements for the MS and ME degrees are the same.

PhD Degree

All students completing a PhD degree must fulfill the following minimum requirements:

  • Complete all of the course work requirements of the Master’s degree in CS or have an MS degree in CS from another institution.
  • The required 15 hours at the 8000 level must be regular courses not to include Research or Problems.
  • Have an overall GPA of at least 3.4/4.0 in their prior graduate level course work (excluding research and problems courses).
  • Pass a qualifying exam to be admitted to candidacy in the CS PhD program.
  • Earn a minimum of 72 credit hours of course work and research past the student’s BS degree.
  • Pass a comprehensive examination covering their areas of expertise.
    • This must be completed within 5 years from your first semester of enrollment in the doctoral program.
  • Complete a doctoral dissertation on a topic approved by the candidate’s advisory committee.
  • Present on a research topic as part of the Computer Science Seminar Series at some point between passing the qualifying exam and the dissertation defense.
  • This policy applies to PhD students who started in Spring 2013 and later.
  • Defend the dissertation in a final oral examination.
  • Have at least 1 journal paper submitted, accepted or published, as approved by the advisor.

Seminar Attendance

  • MS and ME students must attend at least 10 approved CS seminars.
  • Approval of the M3 form is tied to seminar attendance records.
  • PhD students must attend at least 20 approved CS seminars.
  • Approval of the D4 form is tied to seminar attendance records.
  • Master’s students who add the PhD program only need to attend 10 approved seminars as part of their doctoral program.

Approved seminars include all CS Seminar Series presentations, Dr. Harrison’s Security Reading Group meetings and others as announced.

Annual Review

All graduate students are reviewed annually using the Graduate Student Progress System. The review criteria below varies depending on the student.

  • Review of progress toward degree completion using program of study as a guide
  • Areas in which student is meeting or exceeding expectations
  • Areas in which student needs improvement
  • Number of presentations (single or co-authored) at local, regional and national conferences
  • Number of publications (single or co-authored)
  • Notification of any grant/ fellowship applications submitted
  • Notification of any grant/ fellowship applications funded
  • Involvement in any partnerships programs of research, outreach, or appropriate professional activity with non-university organizations
  • Notification of any teaching awards
  • Notification of any research awards
  • Notification of any other awards, specify
  • Notification of any conference travel
  • Notification of any department/ college awarded fellowship/ scholarship
  • Participation and evaluation of any internship experience
  • Update on job search; notification of job placement

Time limits

  • Master’s students must complete their degree within 8 years from their first semester of enrollment in the program.
  • For PhD students, the Comprehensive Exam must be completed within 5 years from the first semester of enrollment, and the degree must be completed within 5 years of passing the Comprehensive Exam.
  • Courses taken more than 8 years ago may not be included in the students’ plan of study.
  • Exceptions to time limits must be approved by the Graduate School via a letter of justification sent by the student and the student’s faculty advisor, with approval from the program’s Director of Graduate Studies.
  • International students may have more stringent time limitations due to I-20/visa expiration dates and/or sponsor-set restrictions. International students should check with the MU International Center regarding these issues.