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Master of Science in Computer Science and Engineering


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 three broad areas:

  1. Computer and network systems
  2. Intelligent systems
  3. 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 on the course catalog.

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. One independent study is allowed under this option. 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 listed on the course catalog.

For both options, 75% of the coursework (i.e., 18 out of 24 course credits for the thesis option, 27 out of 36 course credits for the courses-only option) must be in Computer Science and Engineering, i.e., must be credits with CS or CPE codes. Non-CSE credits are expected to be relevant to the CSE discipline (e.g., EBME, Math, IS).

Advisory Committee

Graduate students will develop an individualized program of study with their advisory committee. The program of study describes the specific courses, research and related activities you will take to meet your degree requirements. We recommended that you develop a program of study as soon as possible upon arriving at the university. Your advisory committee is very important in guiding your progress toward an advanced degree, and high priority should be placed on forming the committee during the first semester as you get to know faculty.

When you start your program, you may be assigned a temporary advisor. Master's degree students should aim to form their committee during the first semester. You are free to change advisors or committee members at any time.

Advisory committee membership

Your advisory committee must be composed of  at least three members of the University's graduate faculty: two from your area of specialization and one from a department other than Computer Science and Engineering.

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 a computer science and engineering minor.

Students without a computer science and engineering background can apply for graduate special status from the Graduate School and take courses in computer science and engineering to provide the necessary background. Typical courses you should consider to gain this background are listed in the requirements for the minor.

Applicants should further meet the following minimum requirements for admission:

  • A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • A minimum TOEFL of 80 or IELTS of 6.5 for international applicants
  • Combined GRE verbal and quantitative score of at least 297. Students who score below 155 in the quantitative section will find it difficult to complete our graduate program
  • A one-page personal statement describing research interests and career goals
  • Three letters of recommendation (from either academic or industry advisors)

What are my chances of being admitted?

Acceptance depends on various factors, including your scores (higher scores generally increase your changes of acceptance), the pool of applicants, your research interests, etc. Unfortunately, due to the large number of graduate applicants, we are unable to provide individual feedback on your chance of being accepted. We do encourage everyone to apply even if one of your scores doesn't meet the requirements, as exceptions are made for applicants who show exceptional promise.

How to Apply


About admissions (where to send transcripts, GRE scores, etc.), email

About our program, email

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

Our department does accept applications after the deadline, however preference will be given to applicants who 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
Address University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557

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