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Graduate Program

Graduation Requirements and Procedures for the M.S. Degree



  • 10 Graduate-level courses totaling at least 30 credit hours are required for the degree. Students must attain a 3.0 GPA to graduate and no courses with grades lower than C count toward graduation.
  • CSCI 689 is required of all students.
  • Of the 10 courses, no more than 2 may be from outside the Department and those courses must be closely related to and contain substantial content in computer science.
  • Of the 10 courses, no more than 2 courses may be transferred from other institutions.
  • In total, no more than two courses from outside the department can count toward the degree.
  • In each case, the Department will decide what courses outside the Department will qualify.

Students seeking admission to the masters program who do not have an undergraduate degree in computer science may be required to take from 1 to 4 courses as deficiencies, and will be expected to earn a grade of B or higher in these courses.

The diagram below summarizes the requirements for the degree. See Areas of Emphasis for more information about each emphasis.

graduation requirements


Comprehensive Examination

Students pursuing the MS in Computer Science are required to take courses preparing them for a comprehensive examination near the end of their program of study. To this end, students must take courses in two areas of emphasis . The procedure for taking comps is as follows:

  • At the end of every summer term (for fall), at the end of every fall term (for spring), and at the end of every spring term (for summer), an online registration form for comps will be available to graduate students in the department. If you plan to take the next comprehensive examination, as soon as the registration form becomes available online, fill out the requested information in the form and submit it electronically to the department as instructed on the form.
  • As soon as you submit the online registration form, an automatic e-mail will be sent to you with instructions on how to access the study guides for all comps areas and a set of old comps questions in each comps area.
  • In the spring, comps are usually in late March, in the summer, late June, and in the fall, late October.
  • You must have completed your comps area courses in the semester before you take the comps.(You may not be taking any of the courses in the same semester that you take comps.)
  • You do not have to wait until your last semester to take comps. You can take them in any semester after you have finished all your comps area courses.
  • Every student who is required to pass comprehensive exams as part of their degree requirements must pass two area exams, each of which consists of material from two courses.
  • Students may not take the comprehensive exam until after they have passed both courses in two areas with a grade of C or better.
  • The first exam session must be for two areas. Failure to attempt one of the area exams will be deemed a failure of that area exam.
  • If a student fails one or both area exams, the second exam session will be the final attempt. Retaking an exam area requires a retake of the entire exam area, not a part of it. Failure to pass the required area exam(s) in the second exam session will result in no degree being awarded regardless of course grades or other factors.
  • If a student fails one or both of the area exams in their first exam session, he/she may not change the area(s) for the second attempt.
  • If a student fails one or both area exams in the first exam session, he/she is required to take the second exam session in the semester following the first (excluding summer). Failure to do so will be considered as a failure of the second attempt and the degree will not be awarded.

Applying for Graduation

You must submit an application to the Graduate School to graduate. Application to graduate is now done via MyNIU. The Graduate School website is www.grad.niu.edu , where you can find the deadline for applications.

Note that the deadline will be earlier than you might guess. For example, the deadline for Spring graduation may be in November 1. The deadline for Summer (i.e. August) graduation is often April 1. Please check the Graduate School website for exact dates.

With regard to "walking" in a ceremony in May for August graduation, you should check with the Graduate School to determine their current policy.