CSE Grad Handbook - Introduction
1.1 Purpose of this Guide
This guide is designed to help graduate students in the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department (CSE) plan and successfully complete a program of study leading to a thesis-based Master of Science in Computer Science degree. Other information that is important for graduate students is found in the publication the Graduate School Handbook, available from the Graduate School.
1.2 Graduate Programs in the Department of Computer Science & Software Engineering
The Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Miami University offers one research-based, thesis-only graduate program, the Master of Science in Computer Science. Students interested in a non-thesis, coursework-only degree, should apply for the Master of Computer Science.
The mission of the Master of Science in Computer Science program is to prepare students for computing professions that require research, invention, and advanced or specialized knowledge. This includes possible pursuit of a PhD in computer science. Students (who are expected to hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a closely related field) shall complete and document work on independent research with a faculty advisor and study advanced topics in computer science. The advanced coursework and experience in research and invention prepares students for work at the cutting edge of computer science.
In order to achieve these goals, all students in the program are expected to master certain learning outcomes. In particular, graduates of the Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) program shall be able to:
- Implement, test, and evaluate solutions to complex problems in Computer Science
- Understand and write proofs and use other theoretical techniques to develop and evaluate solutions
- Perform literature searches and summarize and critique scholarly works in the field
- Author technical and academic publications that document research findings and results
1.3 Applying for Admission
Applicants can apply online through the Miami University Graduate School via the university’s web portal, http://miamioh.edu/graduate-school/. It is recommended to first consult the information at
Students desiring direct admission into the program may only matriculate during the fall semester and should apply no later than February 1st in the preceding spring for priority processing and consideration for possible assistantships. Processing of complete applications will begin at this time. Submitted applications that are incomplete as of April 15th will not be processed and will automatically be updated to reflect a desired matriculation date of the fall one year later than originally desired.
Miami undergraduate students wishing to enter the combined program may apply for admission in either the fall or spring semesters. Those wishing to enter the combined program in the fall should apply no later than February 1st in the preceding spring. Students wishing to apply for entry into the combined program in the spring should apply no later than November 1st in the preceding fall.
The Miami University Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering offers a research-based master's degree program, the Master of Science in Computer Science, to students who hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or a closely related field. Prospective students with a bachelor's degree in a closely related field to computer science may be accepted into the program if they can demonstrate an acceptable level of knowledge in the specific areas of coursework given in the entrance requirements below. Students must also meet all of the entrance requirements of the Graduate School.
Entrance requirements for the master's program are:
- Applicants should hold at least the equivalent of a minor in Computer Science or Software Engineering. It is preferred that applicants hold a bachelor's degree in one of these fields or another that is closely related.
- The applicant should have completed coursework related to each of the following topics:
- Imperative and/or functional programming
- Object-oriented programming
- Data Structures
- Basic algorithms and/or complexity
- Computer organization and architecture
- Concurrent and/or parallel programming
- Software development methods and tools
The above topics correspond to core courses taken by all computer science majors at Miami University at the 300 level and below. The corresponding Miami course numbers are CSE 174, CSE 201, CSE 271, CSE 274, CSE 278, CSE 374, and CSE 381.
- Additional coursework should include the following areas:
- Differential and integral calculus
- Probability and statistics
- Discrete mathematics or linear algebra
Prospective students will be ranked and selected for admission into the master's program based on the following criteria:
- Undergraduate GPA (Minimum 3.00 on a 4.0 scale)
- GRE scores, which are optional but recommended. If submitted, the expected minimums for the different components of the GRE scores are as follows: Verbal: 35th percentile, Quantitative: 60th percentile, and Analytical: 25th percentile.
- The test must have been taken within the last two years.
- This result must be reported via an official score sheet from the GRE administration.
- TOEFL minimum scores (when required): Minimum 80+ internet-based, 213+ computer-based, or 550+ paper-based
- Three letters of recommendation
- Relationship of undergraduate curriculum to computer science and software engineering
- Student's narrative describing the purpose of study
- A code sample that demonstrates the programming abilities of the applicant
- A resume
1.4.1 Conditional Admission for Students with Low GPA
In rare circumstances, students with a grade point average under 2.75 may be admitted on Conditional Status. These students must achieve a 3.0 average during their first 12 hours of graduate work in order to remain in the program.
1.4.2 Conditional Admission without English Proficiency Test Scores
Some scholarship-awarding bodies (the governments of foreign countries, for example) will pay for their students to learn English, and to prepare for the GRE and TOEFL exams, but only if the student is “conditionally admitted” to the program.
It is possible to apply for conditional admission into the MSCS program by only providing items 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 from the above list (that is, undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, purpose of study, programming sample, and resume). Students that are admitted conditionally must provide TOEFL scores that meet the minimum criteria given above before they can enroll in graduate level computer science classes at Miami University. As long as the TOEFL scores meet these criteria, these conditionally admitted students are guaranteed admission into the program.
Students lacking proof of proficiency in English may also receive conditional admission, and participate in the ACE-G program before they formally start the MSCS program. Successful completion of the ACE-G program will replace the TOEFL requirement. Students given conditional admission to the MSCS program through ACE-G are required to enroll in CSE 274 and receive a grade of ‘B’ or higher before being unconditionally accepted.
Students that are rejected for conditional admission may be considered for regular admission if their TOEFL scores arrive by the application deadline. This does not require any additional application fee.
1.4.3 Combined Program Admission
The combined program provides the opportunity for high-achieving students to simultaneously complete any Miami University bachelor's degree along with a master's degree in computer science. The combined program is open to students of any major, provided they meet admission requirements.
Students admitted to the combined degree program may count nine credit hours of their graduate coursework towards their bachelor's degree. This may enable them to complete their degrees in an accelerated fashion.
220.127.116.11 Acceptance Criteria for the Combined Program
- Upon earning junior status and having a GPA of 3.25 or greater, students may apply to our combined program by visiting our Admission page.
- To begin graduate study, students should have credit for the following undergraduate courses:
- CSE 174, CSE 201, CSE 271, CSE 274, CSE 278, CSE 374, and CSE 381
- MTH 151, MTH 231, and STA 261 or 301
18.104.22.168 Other Combined Program Rules
- Students in the combined program will remain undergraduates until either: (a) they complete all undergraduate degree requirements and receive their undergraduate degree, or (b) they request the Graduate School change their status from undergraduate to graduate (the student must have completed a minimum of 124 or 128 total graduate and undergraduate credit hours, depending on their catalog year, to make this request). Once the student meets one of these two criteria, they will be classified as a graduate student. Students may not receive both the undergraduate and graduate degrees on the same date (degrees are conferred four times per year (i.e., January, May, August, December), nor can they take all of their graduate credits with undergraduate status.
- Students in the combined program are eligible to hold a graduate assistantship or graduate grant-in-aid upon being classified as a graduate student.
- Both full-time and part-time students are eligible for this program, but full-time status is recommended.
Graduate assistantships are awards given to students who are working toward a master’s degree that provide for a full tuition waiver as well as a stipend. In return for this financial assistance, students with teaching duties (Teaching Assistant) work 20 hours per week for the Department, during fall and spring terms and students with research duties (Research Assistant) work for 18 hours per week during the fall, winter, and spring terms.
“Half assistantships” provide a half tuition waiver and a half stipend. This stipend is typically enough to cover the unpaid portion of tuition. Students on half assistantship are expected to work 10 hours per week for the Department, during fall and spring terms.
Students enrolled in the thesis-based MSCS program are eligible for graduate assistantships. Students enrolled in the non-thesis Master of Computer Science (M CS) program are not eligible for graduate assistantships.
1.5.1 Applying for Graduate Assistantships and Grants
When a student applies to the Graduate School, they should check the box on the application that indicates interest in an assistantship. No other action is necessary. After entering the MSCS program, students that are not on an assistantship are regularly reviewed for an assistantship award based on award availability, progress towards degree completion, performance as a teaching assistant and/or research assistant, and ability to enter for graduate status.
1.5.2 Conditions and Restrictions
Students that are conditionally admitted cannot receive an assistantship until they are no longer in conditional status. Students must have submitted all materials, including TOEFL scores, by the application deadline in order to qualify for a graduate assistantship.
Students that are conditionally admitted due to low grades are not eligible for graduate assistantships until such time as they have a GPA of at least 3.0, and at least nine credit hours earned. Special permission to hold a graduate assistantship with a GPA below 3.0 may be obtained by petition to the Graduate School.
Combined program students must have earned 124 credit hours, and have graduate student status, to be eligible for an assistantship. Undergraduate scholarships are often tied to the student’s undergraduate status. This sometimes means that a student cannot hold an undergraduate scholarship at the same time as a graduate assistantship. Combined students’ hours may remain classified as undergraduate until they apply for a change to graduate status.
Other forms of financial aid, such as summer scholarships for graduate assistants and grants-in-aid (GIA) are available from the Graduate School.
1.5.3 Awarding of Assistantships
Awards are made on a competitive basis based primarily upon fit with the needs of the department and the criteria used to rank and select applicants for admission that are described in Section 1.4. In addition, because many positions involve teaching assistant duties, applicants may also be evaluated based on previous work experience and must communicate effectively.
1.5.4 Term and Renewal of Assistantships
Assistantships are granted for one year and are not automatically renewed. Renewal is predicated upon adequate performance as a Research Assistant, Teaching Assistant, or both and satisfactory progress towards degree completion. The performance of graduate students will be monitored and assessed by a faculty or staff advisor and the graduate program director. Assessments of performance will be documented using the Teaching Assistant and/or Research Assistant Evaluation rubrics (See Appendices F and G). Low scores on the rubric will be grounds for loss of a student assistantship award.
Assistantships are granted for a maximum of two years.
1.5.5 Graduate Assistants and Full-time Status
Holding an assistantship requires enrolling in nine hours of graduate credit per semester. Therefore, most students on assistantship will graduate with 36-40 credits. This total is more than the minimum required (31 credits).