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The School of Computing offers a graduate program leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degree in computer science. For admission procedures to these degree programs refer to the Graduate School or School of Computing websites.

A nonrefundable $65 application fee must be submitted with the Graduate School’s online application for Admissions to Graduate Study in Computer Science. Applicants must pay this fee by credit card.

Decisions concerning the admission of students to and retention of students in the graduate program will be made by the School of Computing faculty subject to the requirements of the Graduate School.    

Master of Science (M.S.) in Computer Science


The evaluation of applicants for admission is based primarily on the student’s academic record with particular attention being given to past performance in relevant undergraduate coursework. Applicants are expected to have a substantial background in undergraduate computer science courses covering high level and assembly language programming, data structures, computer organization, logic design as well as discrete mathematics, calculus, and linear algebra. The applicant is expected to have completed coursework in the above subject areas prior to admission. Normally, a GPA of at least 3.0/4.0 is required by the School of Computing.


A student who has been admitted to the graduate program in Computer Science can meet the requirements for the Master of Science degree by completing 30 hours of graduate credit subject to the following constraints:

  1. Students must take six credit hours of Computer Science coursework from the approved courses for each of the following three categories:
    • Computer Science Theory: CS 408, CS 434, CS 437, CS 438, CS 447, CS 449, CS 451, CS 455, CS 480, CS 510, CS 533, CS 534, CS 553, CS 555, CS 586
    • Software Development/Engineering: CS 407, CS 412, CS 420, CS 435, CS 485, CS 487, CS 520, CS 585
    • Computing Systems Technologies: CS 401, CS 404, CS 406, CS 409, CS 410, CS 413, CS 415, CS 416, CS 425, CS 430, CS 431, CS 436, CS 440, CS 441, CS 514, CS 525, CS 530, CS 534, CS 536, CS 540 (This requirement accounts for at least 18 hours of the required 30 hours of total graduate credit.)
    • Additional courses may be allowed as appropriate, subject to Graduate Program Director approval.
  2. In addition, at least 50% of the credit hours of graduate work must be at the 500-level.
  3. If a student believes they need to take a course from another academic unit at the University in order to gain specific knowledge for their thesis or project work, they must request approval from the Graduate Program Director prior to registering for such a course. The request must include an explanation of why the course is necessary for their program. Approval will be granted only if the justification is deemed adequate. No more than three hours of credit toward the 30 credit hour requirement will be given, and such courses must be at the 400- or 500-level only.
  4. Students are required to choose either a thesis or non-thesis program:
    • Thesis Option: A student must complete six credit hours of CS 599, Thesis, in 3-credit hour segments taken for two semesters and 24 credit hours of lecture courses. The student is eligible to take the course CS 598 (must be in industry only). This CS 598 course will be considered equivalent to three credit hours of thesis (subject to the approval of the supervising faculty).
    • Non-Thesis Option: A student must take 27 credit hours of lecture courses. In addition, the student will take CS 598, Graduate Project, under the supervision of a faculty member.

Accelerated Master's Degree

The Accelerated MS degree program allows motivated and high-achieving undergraduate students to complete a program leading to a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science in five years. During the junior year, a student working with a faculty advisor will develop a program of study consistent with the student’s interests and goals. To complete this five-year plan, 141 credit hours of study is required. Nine credit hours are awarded to both the undergraduate and graduate degree. Twenty-one additional hours of graduate level courses (400- and 500-level) are required to fulfill the graduate degree. At least 50% of the total 30 credit hours of the graduate degree must be at the 500-level.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science


Subject to meeting the admission requirements of the Graduate School, admission requirements for the Ph.D. in computer science consist of:

  1. A master’s degree in computer science or a related field with a minimum GPA of 3.25/4.0.
  2. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test scores. It is recommended that results from the GRE subject area in computer science or a related area be included.
  3. In exceptional cases, high achieving students with only bachelor degrees will be admitted to the program. Each student, in addition to the Ph.D. in Computer Science program course requirements, must complete at least 15 credit hours of approved computer science courses including CS 401, CS 420, CS 455, and two 500-level lecture courses, with a minimum accumulated GPA of 3.25/4.0 in those courses. If a specific course, or its equivalent, is already part of the student’s academic background, an alternate course will be submitted.

Each applicant is reviewed and evaluated on an individual basis. The evaluation of applicants for admission is based primarily on the student’s academic record and area of research interest. Application materials should include evidence of scholarly ability and/or achievement (e.g. awards, scholarships, work experience, recommendation letters, and published research papers). Only those who best meet the research goals and objectives of the Ph.D. in Computer Science will be selected for admission.


The student must fulfill the requirements for the Qualifying Examination within three years of enrollment in the doctoral program. The Qualifying Examination is organized and administered by the student’s academic advisor. The faculty prepares a written test based on at least two areas of concentration related to the student’s intended dissertation area. Questions will be drawn from regularly scheduled 400- and 500-level graduate courses at SIU. The grade for the exam will be on a Pass or Fail basis for each subject area. If a student fails to pass any subject area of the written examination, a second chance is given for the failed topic test. Students who fail the Qualifying Examination after two attempts will be dismissed from the Ph.D. in Computer Science program.

To fulfill the course requirements of the Ph.D. in Computer Science program, the student must complete at least 24 credit hours of 400/500-level courses and 24 credit hours of CS 600, Dissertation research, all of which are subject to the following constraints:

  1. The coursework must include two one-credit hour seminar courses, six credit hours from an approved list of computer science 400/500-level courses, and six elective credit hours of CS 500-level courses.
  2. The student must file a request with the School of Computing to appoint a dissertation committee to supervise the remaining doctoral work. This committee will consist of five graduate faculty members, one or two of whom will be from a graduate program outside the School of Computing, one preferably from outside this University. The student’s dissertation advisor will serve as the chair of this committee.
  3. Each student should complete a course of study as determined by the student’s dissertation committee.
  4. The course of study must include a minimum of six credit hours of 400/500-level courses from academic programs other than computer science. These courses must be selected from a list approved by the School of Computing.
  5. Having passed the qualifying exams and after completion of most of the course requirements, a student will begin working on a dissertation proposal. The next step will be a Preliminary Examination consisting of an oral test on the student’s proposed research topic. The student will pass the Preliminary Examination only if the members of the committee, with at most one exception, judge the performance of the student’s oral examination to be satisfactory. In the event the student’s performance is unsatisfactory, the committee will reschedule the exam for a later time. A student who fails the reexamination will be dismissed from the Ph.D. in Computer Science program.
  6. A student will be officially admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. in Computer Science after passing the Preliminary Exam and upon completion of all coursework. The student must then complete 24 credit hours of dissertation credit, restricted to nine hours per semester. When the research is complete and the dissertation is written, a final oral examination will take place to determine if the research conducted is worthy of the Ph.D. in Computer Science degree. The dissertation must conform to high literary and scholastic standards and comply with all the relevant requirements of the Graduate School. The dissertation must represent original research of good quality. From the dissertation, the candidate should publish (or have accepted for publication) a minimum of two articles in peer-reviewed journals. The candidate must be listed as the primary author of at least one of these journal articles.
  7. Each candidate must pass a final oral exam over the candidate’s dissertation, conducted by the candidate’s dissertation committee. The dissertation will be accepted provided the dissertation advisor and at least three of the other four members of the committee so agree
  8. Degree requirements, graduation, and time limits are subject to the general guidelines of the Graduate School.