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Computer Science and Engineering, Master of Science Degree


The master's degree program offers an integrated course of study covering the theory, implementation and design of information, computing, communication and embedded systems.

Students in the master's degree program in computer science and engineering can choose from two degree options:

  • Plan A: This program gives students the opportunity to focus on a specific area within computer science and engineering, perform preliminary research within that topic and write a thesis.
  • Plan B:  This option, which doesn't require a thesis, allows students to study several different subjects within the discipline without necessarily specializing on any of them. Instead of writing a thesis, students must complete a graduate-level capstone course that integrates work across previous courses and demonstrates general mastery.

You don't need to decide whether you want to pursue Plan A or Plan B immediately, but you are encouraged to meet with your graduate advisor to discuss your coursework and plan for graduate school. More detailed information about course requirements for each plan can be found on the degree requirements tab.

Research strengths

Our graduate students are given the opportunity to focus in a specific area by taking advanced courses and becoming significantly involved in many aspects of original research and advancing scientific knowledge.

Students who opt for Plan A, the thesis option, can focus their research in one of four broad areas:

  1. Computer and network systems
  2. Games and simulations
  3. Intelligent systems
  4. Software systems

Within these broad areas of focus, faculty in the department have expertise in artificial intelligence, computer vision, pattern recognition, robotics, agent modeling, motion planning, evolutionary computing, digital interactive games, software engineering, computer graphics, human-computer interactions, distributed computing, virtual reality, embedded systems, computer networks, and network measurement and security.

Faculty research and laboratories have been well supported by various federal research and infrastructure grants.

Degree Requirements

You can view more detailed information about master's degree requirements on the course catalog.

Plan A

This option requires a total of 31 credits:

  • 24 course credits
  • 1 credit of graduate seminar
  • 6 thesis credits

Taking into account the Graduate School's requirements, you must take 4 700-level courses and 4 courses at either the 600 or 700 level.

If you have not already done so as an undergraduate, you must complete one of the following theory courses:

  • CS 656 Automata of Formal Languages
  • CS 677 Analysis of Algorithms
  • CS 763 Computability and Formal Languages

Additionally, students must complete 1 credit of CS 792 Graduate Seminar, which requires attendance at department colloquia.

One independent study is allowed in this program.

Students must also complete one course from at least two of the four specialization areas listed below.

Plan B

This option requires a total of 36 credits of coursework.

Taking into account the Graduate School's requirements, you must take 5 700-level courses and 7 courses at either the 600 or 700 level.

One of the 700-level courses must include a graduate-level capstone project that integrates knowledge from your previous courses and demonstrates general mastery in the field.

If you have not already done so as an undergraduate, you must complete one of the following theory courses:

  • CS 656 Automata of Formal Languages
  • CS 677 Analysis of Algorithms
  • CS 763 Computability and Formal Languages

Students must also complete one course from at least three of the four specialization areas. For course descriptions, please view the course catalog.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants to the master's degree program should have a bachelor's degree in engineering, mathematics, or science and have minimum experience that includes the equivalent of the computer science minor. Exceptions to these criteria may be made for applicants who show exceptional promise.

Applicants should meet the following minimum requirements for admission:

  • A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.00
  • Combined GRE verbal and quantitative score of at least 297 (1050 in the old scale). Students who score below 155 (700 in the old scale) in the quantitative section will find it difficult to complete our graduate program.
  • TOEFL scores of 550 (old scale), if applying from a non-U.S. institution
  • A one-page personal statement describing research interests and career goals. Candidates are expected to clearly indicate their research interests as well as the faculty members they are interested in working with.
  • Three letters of recommendation

How to Apply


Contact us at

Applicants to the program must apply via  The Graduate School website.

Our department evaluates applications on a rolling basis. However, to receive full consideration you should meet the following deadlines:

  • January 15 for Fall semester
  • August 15 for Spring semester

Financial Support

Master's students pursuing the thesis option, Plan A, are eligible to apply for department assistantships, which may be either teaching assistantships or research assistantships. However, strong preference will be given to those apply for or pursuing a Ph.D.

  • Teaching assistants work under the supervision of department faculty and are expected to teach recitation sections or laboratories, help with grading and develop course materials and exams.
  • Research assistants conduct innovative research in cooperation with and under the supervision of department faculty.  They are expected to conduct experiments, implement prototype systems, develop new theories, and attend conferences or publish work in scholarly journals.

Typical support for graduate assistantships covers the student's tuition and fees, health insurance, and offers financial compensation of $1,700 / month. If you are selected for an assistantship, you will receive additional details about your funding package at that time.

To be considered for graduate assistantships in the CSE Department, you must officially apply to the M.S. in computer science and engineering. All official applicants will be automatically considered for both teaching and research assistantships. All currently enrolled students are eligible for TA positions and should send an e-mail to Lisa Cody ( to be considered.

International Students

International students should visit the Office of International Students and Scholars for more information.

Housing Options

The University offers on-campus housing for graduate students. Visit the graduate housing website to learn more about living at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Related Degrees and Programs

Contact Computer Science and Engineering

Phone (775) 784-6974
Fax (775) 784-1877
Location Scrugham Engineering and Mines

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