Computer Science Degree

The UCI General Catalogue is the official guide to all degree and graduation requirements; the information below is intended for general planning purposes only. For previous calendar years, please click here.

Computer Science (CS) (M.S. and Ph.D.)

The Computer Science degree is a broad and flexible program which offers students opportunities for graduate study in the full spectrum of intellectual activity in computer science. 

Additional Information

The set of core and elective courses chosen by a student must be approved by the student's research advisor before advancement to candidacy. Faculty associated with each research area will provide suggested curricula for that area to guide students in their selection of courses. These curricula will also help Ph.D. students to prepare for their candidacy examination (see below) which must be taken in a specific research area.

Similarly, students may not take and count undergraduate courses in areas where they have already moved into graduate-level coursework. (The purpose of these undergraduate elective options are to help students to remedy undergraduate background deficiencies).

Ph.D. Candidacy Exam

The objective of the candidacy exam is to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of an area of computer science and readiness to carry out independent research at the doctoral level in that area. The student must complete all course requirements and the research project prior to advancing to candidacy.

All requirements for candidacy including the candidacy exam must be completed by the end of the third year (or, for students with a previous MS in computer science or a related field, by the end of the second year). If the student does not pass on the first trial, they will be allowed until the end of the first quarter of the next year to advance to candidacy.

The candidacy committee will consist of five faculty members, the majority of whom must be members of the student’s program, to administer the exam according to UCI Senate Policy. Please see the ICS Graduate Office for policies regarding the advancement committee membership.

The student takes an oral exam, administered by the five-member committee, during which s/he is tested on knowledge relevant to the chosen area of specialization. Each area is defined by a set of topics and reading list, which are available in the documents below:

The field of computer science is concerned with the design, analysis and implementation of computer systems as well as the use of computation as it is applied to virtually every field of study and use in the everyday world.

Computer systems can range in scope from tiny embedded systems to the internet as a whole. Research in computer science involves mathematical analysis, empirical experimentation and the implementation of proto-type systems.

Core research areas include artificial intelligence and machine learning, bio-informatics, computer architecture, embedded systems, graphics and visual computing, databases and information management, multimedia, networked and distributed systems, programming languages and compilers, security and cryptography, design and analysis of algorithms, scientific computing, and ubiquitous computing.