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FAQ

Top Ten Questions

  1. Do I need to have a bachelor's degree in Computer Science?
  2. What classes do you look for in the transcripts?
  3. What if I do not have the above courses?
  4. Do I need to take the GRE before applying? What is the minimum score I need to have?
  5. What else do you look for in our application file?
  6. What if I am not sure whether to apply?
  7. How long will it take to get the degree?
  8. What are my chances of getting a Research Assistant or Teaching Assistant position?
  9. How or what do I need to send?
  10. How and when do you evaluate the files?

International Admissions provides answers to questions specific to international students such as documents needed for obtaining a visa. 

1. Do I need a have a bachelor's degree in Computer Science? 

No.  All students with a bachelor's degree are welcome to apply. Additional coursework may be required. 

2. What classes do you look for in the transcripts?

We look for equivalent of:

CS311 (data structures) which you must have passed before starting the master's degree. This means you should have completed two programming classes prior to CS311.

  • CS351 (programming languages)
  • CS331 (architecture). This means you should have completed assembly and digital circuits prior to CS331.

We also look for:

    • Discrete Math
    • CS421 (theory)
    • CS433 (operating systems)
    • CS441 (software engineering)
    • CS436 (Networks)

CSUSM Course Catalog provides course descriptions.

If you have not had the above referenced 400-level courses, you need to include them in your study plan as a master's student. These courses will count towards your degree.

3. What if I do not have the above courses?

If you have 4 courses or less of the above missing, you may be admitted as Conditionally Classified. Upon completion of the remaining units, your status will change to Classified. If you are missing more than 4 courses, you cannot be admitted into the program. 

In all cases, you should complete CS 111, CS 211, CS 231 and Calculus I and II before applying.  These courses can be taken through Open University or at another college.

International students must be full-time at all times. Missing courses will not allow you to remain a full-time student. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to have completed all 300 level classes.

4. Do I need to take the GRE before applying? What is the minimum score I need to have?

Your application will not be reviewed until all official scores are received.  All official scores must be received by the close of the application cycle.

Admission Criteria provides minimum score requirements. 

Analytical Writing score of 3.5 satisfies the GWAR requirement.  A score of 3.0 may allow admittance as CONDITIONALLY CLASSIFIED if all other criteria meets the minimum requirements. 

5. What else do you look for in our application file?

It is important that you know what getting a Master's degree in Computer Science means and have clear plans and goals about what you will do with the degree.

GPA helps us evaluate your potential as a graduate student.

For international students, TOEFL or IELTS scores are required and evaluated per the university-wide requirement.

6. What if I am not sure whether to apply?

Evaluate the reasons you are not sure.  

If you are not sure because of your grades, coursework, or required testing scores, please review admission criteria and the CSUSM Course Catalog for course descriptions. For students taking coursework at a community college within California, assist.org can help determine course equivalency.  

If you are not sure if a computer science degree is for you, take courses through Open University or at a local community college to gauge your interest. 

Still not sure? Explore the jobs or career path you are interested in. Knowing what the requirements are for those jobs or career opportunities can help direct your choice. 

7. How long will it take to get the degree?

You will need 30 graduate level units (roughly 10 courses). Half of these units must be at the pure graduate level. We would not recommend taking more than 3 to 4 courses per semester.

8. What are my chances of getting a Research Assistant or Teaching Assistant position?

After you have had CS 311 or above at CSUSM, you may apply as an Instructional Student Assistant to assist an instructor. 

Research Assistant positions depend on the availability of grants. You should contact the professor involved with your area of interest.  

Teaching Assistant positions are posted on Cougar Jobs

Faculty Affairs has additional information on the classifications of assistants. 

9. What documents do I need to send and how do I do that? 

The types of documents and where to send them are specific to your student classification - Domestic, Domestic with International Coursework, and International. Both Admission Criteria and How to Apply provide specific information. 

Additional resources can be found at Graduate Admissions and International Admissions

10. How and when do you evaluate the files?

The admission files are evaluated throughout the application cycle.  Initial review includes self-reported test scores.  Applicant files are reviewed periodically throughout the application cycle to check for receipt of documents such as official transcripts, official test scores, and letters of recommendations.  Once the application file contains all the documents and the miminim testing requirements are met, the file is fully evaluated by the Graduate Coordinator.  International applicant files are also reviewed and evaluated by International Admissions.  

Admission status letters are emailed to the applicant anytime during the application cycle or shortly after the cycle closes.