M.S. and Ph.D programs

Degrees offered

M.S. in computer science & engineering

A master's degree in computer science and engineering provides in-depth knowledge of theory and design of computing systems. The degree prepares students for advanced jobs in industry or for further study and research as part of a Ph.D. program.

Ph.D. in computer science & engineering

The Ph.D. in computer science and engineering is designed for students who want to pursue original research within computer science and engineering. The Ph.D. program prepares graduates for careers in academia or for research-oriented positions within industry.

Admissions questions?

Contact the admissions team at grad_admissions@cse.unr.edu (email is the preferred contact)



How to apply

You can start your application through the Graduate School website, which provides detailed instructions on the application process.

Preference will be given to applicants who meet the following deadlines:

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

What do I need to submit with my application?

Admission to both the M.S. and the Ph.D. in computer science and engineering requires students to submit a statement describing your research interests and letters of recommendation. TOEFL or IELTS scores are also required for students from non-English speaking countries. The GRE is recommended but not required for Spring 2023 applicants.

  • GPA

    M.S. applicants: A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0

    Ph.D. applicants: A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.25 for applicants without an M.S. degree or a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 for applicants with an M.S. degree

  • GRE

    The GRE is not required for CSE graduate applicants. You can submit GRE scores if you wish, but they are not required for graduate consideration.

  • Language requirement

    For international applicants to both the M.S. and Ph.D. program, here are the minimum score requirements:

  • Personal statement

    M.S. applicants: A one-page personal statement describing research interests and career goals.

    Ph.D. applicants: 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.

  • Letter of recommendation

    M.S. applicants: Two letters of recommendation (either from academic or industry advisors)

    Ph.D. applicants: Three letters of recommendation (either from academic or industry advisors)

    Please note you do not need to upload letters. Your recommenders will be notified by email after you complete your online application.

Undergraduate major

Applicants to the graduate program should have a bachelor's degree in engineering, mathematics or science and have experience that includes the equivalent of a computer science and engineering minor. The department will consider applications from students lacking this background if they show exceptional promise.

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 CS 135, CPE 201, CS 202, CS 219, and CS 302.

What are my chances of being admitted?

Acceptance into either the M.S. or Ph.D. in computer science and engineering 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.


Courses and curriculum

Requirements for the M.S. in computer science and engineering

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. 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 when you apply, but you are encouraged to meet with the graduate director to discuss your coursework and plan for graduate school.

Requirements for the Ph.D. in computer science

There are three main requirements for the Ph.D. in computer science: required and elective coursework; comprehensive exams; and a research-based dissertation. In addition, doctoral students are expected to attend department colloquia, participate in proposal writing and present their research. Doctoral students focus on a specific area in computer science and engineering by taking advanced courses and becoming significantly involved in many aspects of original research, advancing scientific knowledge in their field of specialization.


Program cost and funding

Program cost

Information about graduate student tuition and fees is available on The Graduate School website.

Graduate assistantships

All applicants to the Ph.D. in computer science and engineering are eligible for department assistantships. Master's students pursuing the thesis option (Plan A) are eligible to apply for assistantships. However, preference for assistantships typically goes to students applying for or pursuing a Ph.D.

For Research Assistantship (RA) positions, we do not regulate the process. It is up to the student and the individual faculty member. Typically faculty members have funding and decide to make an RA offer to a student. You should interact with the individual faculty members directly. A place to start would be exploring what the faculty members (https://www.unr.edu/cse/people) do for their research (http://www.unr.edu/cse/research). Note that you should interact with faculty in areas of your interests.

Teaching Assistantships are supervised by department faculty. TA-ships are awarded to students who are sponsored by faculty they are working with. It is best to make contact with faculty to sponsor you for a TA-ship.

The University offers two kinds of graduate assistantships:

  • 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.  Students should contact the faculty supervisor they are interested in working with to ask about possible research assistantships. Students are expected to conduct experiments, implement prototype systems, develop new theories, and attend conferences or publish work in scholarly journals.

To be considered for graduate assistantships in the CSE Department, you must officially apply to either the M.S. or Ph.D. program. All official applicants will be automatically considered for both teaching and research assistantships.

College of Engineering graduate assistantships

Details on graduate research assistantships funded by the College of Engineering are available on the College website.

Funding resources from the Graduate School

The Graduate School maintains lists of additional funding opportunities from both University and external sources

Funding resources for international students

Information about scholarships and financial aid for international students is also available on the Office of International Students and Scholars website.


Find a faculty advisor

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Cybersecurity and network systems

Faculty in this area research wireline and wireless networking areas to improve the Internet and accommodate growing demand for high-speed mobile networking. Faculty also investigate cybersecurity and forensics to protect the digital world and explore social and biological networks in order to identify patterns in those complex systems.

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Data and software systems

Researchers in this area are developing infrastructure and software solutions to scale and support the collection and use of big data for scientific research. Faculty research includes augmented and virtual reality, cloud computing, human-computer interaction, and software engineering.

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Intelligent and autonomous systems

Our research focuses on developing systems that are able to perceive, understand and respond to the world around them. This area of research has a wide range of applications, from vision-based surveillance to assistive robotics, autonomous systems and advanced manufacturing.

Are you ready to make a world of difference?

Join the College of Engineering students, faculty and alumni who are developing the ideas, techniques and technologies that change the world.