2017-2018 Master of Science in Computer Science Program Handbook

1 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 Master of Science in Computer Science degree. Other information that is important for graduate students is found in the publication A Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty, 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 graduate program, the Master of Science in Computer Science.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Master of Science in Computer Science program is to prepare students for computing professions that require research or invention, or 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) will learn contemporary topics in computer science that go beyond what most undergraduate programs can provide, and will have the opportunity to work on independent research with a faculty advisor. The experience in research and invention is intended to prepare students for work at the cutting edge of computer science.

Program Objectives

The educational goals of the program are to broken into two main areas: Advanced education and research.

  Advanced education. Students will study topics that are broader, more advanced, or more recently discovered than what is typical in an undergraduate degree program, enabling them to:

  • Be employed in industries that use cutting-edge techniques from computer science.
  • Pursue a PhD in computer science.

Research. All students will study research methods, and take research-linked courses. Every student will have the opportunity to work on an independent research project advised by a faculty mentor. This enables the student to:

  • Seek employment in industries that require significant invention, independent work, or research.
  • Design, conduct, write about, and disseminate the results of research projects in computer science, while adhering to high standards of research ethics and professional ethics.
  • Work as a reviewer or referee for trade or scholarly publications.

Program Outcomes

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:

  1. Explain and apply advanced and timely topics of computer science, topics that go beyond the depth that an undergraduate degree program would normally offer (as defined by the joint ACM/IEEE-CS computer science curriculum). 
  2. Communicate advanced topics, or the results of research, in computer science effectively through scholarly writing or presenting appropriate to the field.
  3. Perform a literature search, and prepare a literature survey, to familiarize oneself with a new research field. Read, summarize, critique, and edit scholarly works in the field, as a referee or as a co-author of a scholarly work.

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 this "how to apply" page.

Students wishing to apply for fall (August) starts must apply no later than February 1 st . Students wishing to apply for spring (late January) starts must apply no later than October 1 st . Applications that arrive after these deadlines will be considered but will be at a disadvantage and admission into the program may be delayed.

1.4 Prerequisites and Types of Admission

The Miami University Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering offers a master's degree program 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:

  • A bachelor's degree (from an accredited 4-year college) in computer science or a closely related field that includes at least 1 year (30 credit hours) of computer science coursework. The applicant should have at least one course in each of the following topics:
    • Imperative and/or functional programming
    • Object-oriented programming
    • Basic analysis of algorithms
    • Computer organization and architecture
    • Concurrent and/or parallel programming
    • Software development methods and tools

The applicant should also have one semester (15 credit-hours) of technical coursework at the intermediate or advanced level (courses in computer science, software engineering, or a closely related field).

  • Successful completion of course work in 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:

  1. Undergraduate minimum GPA (2.75+ overall or 3.0+ in advanced coursework)
  2. GRE minimum scores (Verbal: 35 th percentile, Quantitative: 60 th percentile, and Analytical: 25 th percentile)
    1. The test must have been taken within the last two years.
    2. This result must be reported via an official score sheet from the GRE administration.
  3. TOEFL minimum scores: (when required): 80+ Internet-based, 213+ computer-based, 550+ paper-based
  4. Three letters of recommendation
  5. Undergraduate curriculum
  6. Student's narrative describing the purpose of study
  7. A code sample that demonstrates the programming abilities of the applicant

1.4.1 Conditional Admission for Students with Low GPA

Students whose grade point average is 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 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 and 7 from above list (that is, undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, purpose of study, and programming sample). Students that are admitted conditionally must provide GRE and TOEFL scores that meet the minimum criteria given above before they can enroll. As long as the GRE and TOEFL scores meet these criteria, such 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 though ACE-G are required to enroll in CSE 274 and received 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 GRE and 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, thus enabling them to complete their degrees in an accelerated fashion.

With an undergraduate major in computer science or software engineering students can complete the combined program in five years. Acceptance Criteria for the Combined Program

  • Upon earning a minimum of 64 hours 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
    • Either CSE 283 OR CSE 381
    • MTH 151, MTH 231, MTH 251
    • At least 15 additional credit hours of intermediate or advanced coursework in computer science or a closely related field
  • Students that meet these requirements are guaranteed admission to our program, bypassing the normal competitive admissions procedure Other Combined Program Rules

  • Combined students can begin taking graduate courses after they have earned 80 credit hours.
  • Students in the combined program will remain undergraduates until they submit a request to the Graduate School to have their classification changed from undergraduate to graduate (or until they apply for graduation). Students must have completed a minimum of 128 hours to be classified as a graduate student. Students may receive their bachelor’s degree prior to completing their master’s degree. Upon receiving the bachelor’s degree, students will automatically be classified as graduate students. Students receiving the bachelor’s degree prior to completing the master’s degree can count up to 9 hours of graduate coursework toward their bachelor’s degree.
  • A minimum of 150 hours is required for the combined program; 120 semester hours minimum for a bachelor's degree and 30 hours minimum for a master's degree.
  • 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.

1.5 Assistantships

Graduate assistantships are awards given to students who are working toward a master’s degree that provide for 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.

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.

1.5.2 Conditions and Restrictions

Students that are conditionally admitted without test scores are not eligible for graduate assistantships until all test scores are received. Students must have submitted all materials, including GRE and 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 9 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 at least 128 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 with 128 hours may remain classified as undergraduates 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. Because many positions involve teaching assistant duties, applicants will normally be evaluated based on:

  • Mastery of undergraduate coursework (imperative programming, data structures, algorithms, object-oriented programming)
  • Work experience

1.5.4 Work Hour Responsibilities of Graduate Assistants

 Students with teaching duties work 20 hours per week for the Department, during fall and spring terms.  Students with research duties work for 18 hours per week during the fall, winter, and spring terms.

1.5.5 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. 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 Appendix I: Appendix J:). Low scores on the rubric for two semesters in a row will be grounds for loss of a student assistantship award.

Assistantships are granted for a maximum of two years.

1.5.6 Summer Scholarships for Graduate Assistants

Graduate assistants that remain on campus to work on research over the summer may be eligible for a summer stipend and a tuition waiver for summer classes from the Miami University Graduate School. To apply for the summer scholarship, graduate assistants must register for a minimum of three hours of graduate level coursework and submit the “Request for Graduate Summer Scholarship” form (see appendices of this handbook) to CSE graduate director.  To avoid delays in the awarding of the summer scholarship, registration should be completed by May 1. Students working on a research assistantship may sometimes be paid wages out of grant funds, and may therefore elect not to take the summer scholarship.

1.5.7 Track Restrictions for Graduate Assistants

In general, graduate assistantships are assigned to students whose educational goals are most closely aligned with the work required by the position. This is supported by Miami’s graduate school policy (see 3.2.A.1 of the Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty).

For this reason, only students in the “Academic” and “Industry with Research Experience” tracks may be considered for research assistant (RA) positions.

For teaching assistant (TA) positions, which almost always involve supporting the undergraduate teaching mission, there is a strict precedence. “Industry” track students will only be offered TA positions if there are no qualified applicants among the students in the other two tracks.

In all cases, 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). Changing Tracks

A student may move from the Industry (I) track to the Industry with Research (IR) track at any time without penalty. Inform the graduate director in writing that you wish to change tracks. Similarly, both I-track and IR-track students can move to the Academic (A) track without penalty. Students should be aware, however, that waiting too long to do so can result in delays completing the degree, because of the project requirements of the IR and A tracks.

Students moving from the A-track or IR-track to I-track are in danger of losing their assistantships, due to the precedence rule described in the previous section. Students changing tracks mid-semester may lose their assistantships immediately, prior to the end of the semester.

Because each funding agency and grant-holder sets their own guidelines for the awarding of TA and RA positions, some positions may be open only to A-track students. For this reason, research assistants wishing to move from the A-track to the IR-track must receive permission of their research supervisors, or else resign their positions.

2 Requirements for the Master’s Degree

2.1 Course Requirements

The total course of instruction includes 31 credit hours. This total includes a single one credit hour seminar and either 24 or 30 hours of course work depending on the chosen Program Track.

2.1.1 Major Course Requirement (24 credit hours)

Students must complete 24 hours of graduate-level course work. The acceptable courses for fulfilling this requirement are categorized as either “Theory,” “Application,” or “Affiliate.”

  • Students must complete at least two courses from both the “Theory” and “Application” categories. Completed 400 level versions of 500 level courses may be used to satisfy this requirement if a grade of B or higher was received in the course. Students must still complete 24 hours of graduate level coursework.
  • Students must complete at least three courses (nine hours) that are at or above the 600 level.
  • Up to two courses (six hours) from the Affiliate category may count towards this requirement.
  • Students must earn a grade of ‘C’ or higher in all courses taken to meet degree requirements.


Courses that emphasize proofs and theoretical techniques.

  • CSE 564 Algorithms (3)
  • CSE 565 Comparative Programming Languages (3)
  • CSE 573 Automata, Formal Languages & Computability (3)
  • CSE 621 Foundations of Software Engineering (3)
  • CSE 620A Knowledge Representation (3)
  • CSE 650 Special Topics in Computer Science Theory (3)
  • CSE 664 Advanced Algorithms (3)
  • CSE 667 Cryptography (3)


Courses that emphasize systems and programming.

  • CSE 543 High Performance Computing & Parallel Programming (3)
  • CSE 551 Web Services and Service Oriented Architectures (3)
  • CSE 565 Comparative Programming Languages
  • CSE 567 Computer and Network Security (3)
  • CSE 570 Special Topics (3)
  • CSE 571 Simulation (3)
  • CSE 574 Compiler Design (3)
  • CSE 586 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (3)
  • CSE 587 Game Design and Implementation (3)
  • CSE 615 Mathematical Modeling (3)
  • CSE 617 Advanced Networks (3)
  • CSE 618 Graphics for Simulation and Virtual Environments (3)
  • CSE 620 Special Topics in Computer Science Applications (3)
  • CSE 620H GPU and Cloud Computing (3)
  • CSE 627 Machine Learning (3)
  • CSE 631 Ontologies for the Semantic Web (3)
  • CSE 690 Graduate Research (3)


  • ECE 525 Digital Signal Processing (3)
  • ECE 553 Communication Systems (3)
  • ECE 561 Network Performance Analysis (3)

Taking Courses outside the Theory, Application, and Affiliate Categories

In some cases, research projects or thesis research may require specialized knowledge that is not covered by courses in the Theory, Application, and Affiliate categories. Graduate level courses that are not listed in these categories may be used to meet degree requirements if endorsed by the research supervisor. Each course must be approved individually by the graduate committee. Approval must be obtained before taking each of the courses.

2.1.2 Seminar Requirement (1 credit hour)

  • CSE 610J Research Methods for Computer Science (1)
  • CSE 611 Seminar Attendance Requirement (0)
    Required seminar attendance as nonparticipant for graduate students in all tracks during each fall and spring semester in which they are enrolled as full-time students. Attendance must be verified at a designated number of approved events each semester. Approved events include proposal and defense presentations, oral exams associated with the Coursework Only track, and presentations by faculty search candidates.

2.1.3 Program Track (6 credit hours)

Students must complete the requirements for one of the following tracks.

Thesis Track: This track is for students that wish to learn how to write for and publish in scholarly journals or conferences. This is the recommended track for students that intend to go on to a Ph.D. program in computer science. To complete this track, the student must write and defend a thesis, and satisfactorily complete at least six credit hours of CSE 700 Research for Master's Thesis or Project (6).

Research Project Track: This track is for students that wish to work on a large independent research project supervised by a faculty member. To complete this track, students must document and defend their research project and satisfactorily complete at least six credit hours of CSE 700 Research for Master's Thesis or Research Project (6).

Coursework Only Track: This track is for students that wish to broaden their background through additional graduate level course work. Students in this track shall take (in addition to all other course requirements) two additional graduate courses (6 credit hours) from the "Theory," “Application,” or “Affiliate” lists, and at least four courses (12 credit hours) at the 600 level. To complete this track, students must successfully pass an oral exam over three of the ten courses that they have completed.

2.2 Foundation Courses

Student must take the following courses if they have no completed an equivalent course credit. None of these courses count toward the 24 credit hour graduate-level course work requirement. Also note that if a student has not taken a course equivalent to CSE 464/CSE 564, they must take CSE 564.

  • CSE 283 Data Communication and Networks (3) or CSE 381 Operating Systems (3)
  • CSE 385 Database Systems (3)
  • CSE 464/564 Algorithms (3)
  • MTH 231 Elements of Discrete Mathematics (3)

2.3 Final Exam Requirements

Miami University specifies that Masters students should “pass a final examination that covers the entire field of their graduate study” (See 4.1.A.4 of the Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty). The form of this exam depends on your track:

  • Thesis track: The “final exam” is an oral exam that takes the form of a public presentation and defense of the student’s thesis.
  • Research Project track: The “final exam” is an oral exam that takes the form of a public presentation and defense of the student’s research project.
  • Coursework Only: The final exam is an oral exam that is an examination of the student’s studies in the program. The student should select three of their 10 major courses to be the subject of the exam, and at least two of the three courses should be at the 600 level. The student must select an examining committee of three faculty members who have expertise in those three courses. The student’s own instructors in those courses are preferable.

Students that fail their final exam may retake the exam once, after a waiting period of at least 30 days. For this reason, it is recommended that students schedule their first attempt at their final exam at least 30 days before the date that they plan to leave campus. Students that fail a second time will be dismissed from the program.

2.4 CSE Classes Taken Before Entering the Program and Courses from Other Departments

If a graduate student of another department takes CSE graduate courses and later applies to the CSE graduate program, at most three of the previously taken CSE courses will be counted towards the student’s CSE master degree requirements. Such courses must be taken for graduate credit, not undergraduate.

Credits earned toward another master’s degree or from another school may be applied toward the degree.  Consult the publication A Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty for additional information regarding transfer credits and discuss the possible transfer of credits with the Director of the Graduate Program.  All transfer credits must be approved by the Computer Science and Software Engineering Graduate Committee.

2.5 Grades and Credit/No Credit Courses

All CSE courses other than CSE 600, CSE 610 and CSE 700 must be taken for a letter grade if they will be used to satisfy the degree requirements. CSE 600 (Independent Study) and CSE 610 (Research Seminar) are offered for credit/no credit only.    

2.6 Minimum GPA Requirement

The minimum grade point average (GPA) required by the Graduate School for an advanced degree is 3.0 in both the courses in the major and total grade point average.  The computation of the GPA includes all graduate courses.  If your GPA falls below 3.0 you will be placed on academic probation. See Section 1.3.B of A Handbook for Graduate Faculty and Students for details.

2.7 Graduate Student Responsibilities

It is realized that the graduate students in the CSE department come from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. Different cultures have different views on proper ethical and moral conduct with regard to academic integrity. The following guidelines are set forth to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and gains the most benefit from the program.

There are computing resources that are available to graduate students as described in section 6.  The resources are made available to further student education at Miami and should be used responsibly to carry out duties as a research and/or teaching assistant and a student.  They should not be used for personal use and should not be shared with other students.  The licensed software in the labs is only licensed for the labs and may not be put on personal computers.  There is software for your own personal use available through the following sites:

The ethical and moral responsibilities of a student require everyone to do their own work.  When students use another person’s ideas, words or images as their own, this is plagiarism.  When plagiarizing another person’s work, students are not learning the material. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, copying written text word for word from another source (books, magazines, news articles, Internet, people, etc.), copying programming code, and using images without properly quoting and citing the reference.  Jointly working on homework, programs and exams when these assignments were not assigned as a group project is also considered academic dishonesty.  Students that are caught plagiarizing can be charged with academic dishonesty and possibly removed from the program.  Please consult A Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty, available from the Graduate School for procedures and penalties for this offense.

3 Advising

3.1 New Students

Entering students must meet with the Director of the CSE Graduate Program for initial advising and determination of a Plan of Study the week prior to the start of the fall semester.  All students are required to attend an orientation session prior to the start of the semester. Failure to do so may result in forfeiture of any assistantship or scholarship.

3.2 First-Semester Advisor

The Director of the Graduate Program is the advisor for most first-semester students, and will continue to be the advisor for all Industry track students. Academic and Industry with Research Experience students, however, should seek a research advisor during their first semester in the program.  Students should customize the electives in the Plan of Study in consultation with their research advisor. The purpose of the plan is to identify all requirements for graduation and can be used as an aid in planning.  The plan can be updated in consultation with the Graduate Director.

3.3 Research Advisor

Students in the two research tracks should try to become familiar with the faculty of the department and begin thinking about a research topic and a potential faculty member to act as a research advisor during their first semester.  It is the student’s responsibility to approach one or more faculty members and ask whether they are available to supervise the student’s graduate research and also act as a permanent academic advisor.  A faculty member may advise as many as two or three graduate students at a time, so the student’s first choice of an advisor may not be able to accommodate them.

Students are not required to choose a research advisor who is a member of the CSE department. When a non-CSE research advisor is chosen, the advisor will carry the designation of “co-advisor” and a CSE faculty member must be chosen as an additional co-advisor.

Faculty members supervise research in an area of their own interest. A student may have to select a research topic that is not the one that he/she originally planned so that a match can be made with the interests of a CSE faculty member. It is the student’s responsibility to identify a faculty advisor. It is recommended that the student select an advisor during their first semester in the MSCS program. Due to CSE 700 requirements, delaying advisor selection any later than the end of the student’s second semester may result in a delay of graduation.

4 Academic Track Thesis Requirement

4.1 CSE 700 Requirements

Academic track students are required to satisfactorily complete at least six hours of CSE 700.  The rules for CSE 700 are as follows:

  • A minimum of two semesters of enrollment in CSE 700 is required. This is to encourage students to devote an appropriate amount of time to their research projects.
  • Enrollment in CSE 700 is by permission of the student’s research advisor

4.2 Distinction between CSE 690 and CSE 700

Topics studied in CSE 690 may not duplicate the topic of the master’s research (CSE700) of the student.  A master’s degree candidate may earn a maximum of three credits of Graduate Research (CSE690) to count towards CSE elective requirements. If a topic studied in Graduate Research turns into a Thesis topic, then the credit earned in Graduate Research (690) is to be substituted for three hours of Thesis Research (700).

4.3 Graduate Research: The Thesis

Graduate research is made up of two phases, which (together) take a minimum of two semesters to complete.  These phases are:

  • Proposal Phase
  • Research Execution Phase

The proposal presentation cannot take place in the same semester as the thesis defense. This is intended to benefit the student by ensuring that the student receives feedback and approval from all members of the thesis committee before getting too far along in the research project.

In the Proposal Phase it is recommend that the student register for at least three hours of CSE 700 (Thesis Research). Figure 1 shows the steps to be carried out in the Proposal Phase:

a) Choose a faculty advisor

b) Create a customized Plan of Study in consultation with your advisor

c) Choose a research topic

d) Choose a Thesis Committee in consultation with your advisor

e) Prepare a research proposal

f) Present the proposal to your thesis committee and the public

g) Obtain approval of your proposal from your committee.  An approval form is appended to this guide. Submit the form to the Graduate Director before the beginning of your second year.

Figure 1.  Research Proposal Phase.

In the Proposal Phase the student will prepare a research proposal under the supervision of a faculty member.  The proposal will include:

  • A description of the research problem
  • Research objectives
  • Significance and background of the problem
  • Approach and methodology to be used
  • Expected results of the study


Prior to beginning the Research Execution Phase, the student must have the proposal approved by his or her Committee.  Then the student may commence the Execution Phase and complete the following tasks:

  1. Conduct the research
  2. Prepare the thesis
  3. Successfully defend the thesis before the Thesis Committee and the public
  4. Make the final copies of the thesis and submit it for publication through the OhioLink ETD (Electronic Thesis and Dissertation) system

In this phase, the student must successfully present and defend the results of his or her work to the public.  This presentation and its evaluation constitute the final examination.  The thesis must be read before the date of the examination by the members of the examination committee.  (The time required for this is detailed below.)  Thus, one must have completed the thesis early enough in the semester in which one intends to be examined so that the committee members have adequate time to read the thesis.

The defense must be scheduled one week prior to the thesis submission deadline given by the University.  The defense will not be scheduled until the document is complete and posted on the designated departmental site so that it is available to all faculty members.  The usual format for the defense begins with a 30 to 40 minute oral presentation, accompanied by audio/visual materials (overhead transparencies, presentation software, etc.), to his or her examining committee and the public.  The student should practice the presentation with his or her advisor prior to giving the presentation.  Following the presentations, members of the committee or the public may question the student.  The entire presentation and question period typically lasts about one hour.  Lastly, the public is excused and the examining committee determines whether the student has passed the examination.

4.4 12 Month Proposal Deadline Policy

Students on assistantship are required to successfully propose their thesis or research project within the first twelve months after enrolling in the MSCS program. Students that do not meet this deadline will lose their assistantship. With the support of their advisor, students may petition the graduate committee to keep their assistantship. The petition must be in writing. It must include an explanation of the reasons the proposal was not completed and plan for completing the proposal that includes the expected date of completion. The petition should be accompanied by a positive or negative endorsement from the student’s advisor. Students who have been in the MSCS degree program for longer than twelve months and have not completed their proposal will generally not be awarded an assistantship.

4.5 Research Phase Continuous Enrollment Requirement

Students are required to be enrolled for at least one credit at the time of proposal presentation.  All students are expected to maintain enrollment of at least one credit for every semester thereafter until the thesis is completed.  If a student fails to enroll for any fall or spring semester the student’s thesis proposal will become void and will have to be rewritten and presented again, possibly with a different topic. Enrollment is not required during winter or summer terms.  If there are special circumstances that prevent a student from registering for one or more semesters, the student may petition the CSE Graduate Program Committee for an exception to the rule.

4.6 Suggested Time Line

Below summarizes important milestones for a graduate student following the Thesis Option.

Semester 1

Faculty Milestone: Become familiar with the CSE faculty – take Research Seminar (CSE 610J), approach faculty members about being the advisor.

Thesis Milestone: Consider topics of interest in the field and identify research interest

Semester 2

Faculty Milestone: Identify a thesis committee, begin and potentially complete proposal.

Thesis Milestone: Begin and potentially complete proposal


Thesis Milestone: Complete proposal and obtain approval

Semester 3

Faculty Milestone: Conduct research

Thesis Milestone: Begin writing thesis

Semester 4

Faculty Milestone: Present and defend thesis

Thesis Milestone: Complete thesis research and defend the thesis

For students who are able to complete the program in less than four semesters, the time line in Table 3 will be compressed, and the student must initiate each milestone earlier than shown in the table.  Also, the student should remember that at least two semesters of CSE 700 are required.

4.7 Organization of the Thesis

4.7.1 Style

The results of the research must be reported in the form of a thesis, following the Graduate School’s guidelines, as specified in The Guidelines for Writing a Thesis or Dissertation, available at the Graduate School web site.  This section is intended to provide a suggested structure for the thesis.

4.7.2 Chapters

A research study should contain a statement of the question to be investigated or goals of the study, a review of relevant literature, a description of how one analyzed, extended, or applied what was learned, results or issues that have been identified in the study, and finally some conclusions that can be drawn and suggestions for future work. The thesis must contain a concise statement describing the student’s contribution to the field. If the work is novel, the thesis must contain a concise statement describing the novel aspects of the work. The thesis might contain the following sections:

  1. Introduction (including goals or thesis question and the significance of the problem to be studied)
  2. Literature Survey (background and related work)
  3. Analysis Method
  4. Results
  5. Summary and Conclusions
  6. Bibliography

All theses from former students are housed in the OhioLink ETD (Electronic Thesis and Dissertation) archive online, and are available for review as examples of prior work.

4.7.3 Help with Writing

The Howe Center for Writing Excellence can provide feedback and coaching on your writing. Contact them via http://miamioh.edu/howe/. It is recommended that students who are not experienced writers meet with a writing coach regularly (about every two weeks) during the thesis writing period.

4.8 Submission of Final Copies

The student is responsible for submitting the thesis, in electronic form, to the OhioLink ETD (Electronic Thesis and Dissertation) center. The student is also responsible for submitting the signed cover sheet of the thesis, in hard copy, to the Graduate School. Follow the style guidelines provided by the Graduate School. The Graduate School is serious about things like margins, page numbers, etc.  Student cannot not graduate until the Graduate School approves the formatting of their thesis.

4.9 Housekeeping Tasks

*Missing any of the deadlines listed below could delay graduation to a later semester.*

4.9.1 Proposal

The proposal must be presented to the public.  Student responsibilities include the following: 

  • Students must schedule a date, time and location to present their proposal with one of the CSE department administrative assistants at least one week (seven days) prior to the intended date of the proposal presentation.  The proposal must be posted on the designated departmental site prior to the proposal presentation being scheduled.  The CSE administrative assistant will prepare, post, and distribute the proposal announcement to the appropriate individuals.
  • Students who are unfamiliar with the instructor’s station in the room scheduled for their thesis defense or proposal presentation should schedule an appointment with the CEC IT support group (109 Benton) a week (five working days) in advance to be trained on the computer equipment in the room.  If needed, students will also have to reserve equipment such as a laptop computer with CEC IT a week (five working days) in advance.

For more details, see the Appendix A: Checklist for Proposing a Thesis or Research Project of this handbook.

4.9.2 Thesis Presentation and Defense

The thesis defense is a public presentation. Student responsibilities include the following:

  • Students must apply for graduation and pay the graduation fee prior to the defense.
  • Adequate time must be provided for the examining committee to read the thesis prior to the defense.  The student should copy and deliver a version of the thesis that has been approved by the advisor to members of the examining committee at least seven days prior to the defense date.
  • Prior to scheduling the defense, the completed thesis must be posted on the designated departmental site.
  • The defense must be completed at least two weeks (ten working days) prior to the date on which the student intends to graduate or one week before the printed thesis is due to the graduate school, whichever comes first. 

For more details, see the Appendix C: Checklist for Defending a Thesis of this handbook. 

5 Research Project Track Project Requirement

Students in the “Research Project” track must complete and present a research project advised by a faculty member. This section does not apply to students in the other two tracks.

5.1 CSE 700 requirement

 Industry track students pursuing the Research Experience option are required to complete satisfactorily at least six hours of CSE 700.  The rules for CSE 700 are as follows:

  • A minimum of two semesters of enrollment in CSE 700 is required. This is to encourage students to devote an appropriate amount of time to their research projects.
  • Enrollment in CSE 700 is by permission of the student’s thesis advisor

5.2 Proposal

The student should follow the rules and timeline described in section 4, with the following modifications:

  • No thesis is required (see below)
  • During the proposal phase you must justify the lack of a thesis. Project students and Thesis students are expected to do roughly the same amount of work, so a Project student’s project should normally involve more research to offset the time saved by not writing a thesis.

5.3 Final Examination

Students must select an examining committee, following the same rules as Academic track (described in section 4). The final exam consists of a presentation and oral defense of your research project results.

For more details, see the Checklist for Defending a Research Project of this handbook.

6 Industry Track Culminating Experience Requirement

In Students in the “Coursework Only” track must successfully pass an oral exam that is an examination of the student’s studies in the program. The student should select three of their 10 major courses to be the subject of the exam, and at least two of the three courses should be at the 600 level. The student must select an examining committee of three faculty members who have expertise in those three courses. The student’s own instructors in those courses are preferable.

Under special circumstances, Coursework Only track that have had an absence and then returned to Miami after working in the field may opt to write and defend a field report. This involves documenting work done in the field that contributed to their education in computer science. This report is then presented this to an examining committee for evaluation. The goal is to demonstrate expertise in computer science that is equivalent to what is required for other Coursework Only track students, but in a format that acknowledges the student’s on-the-job learning and experience.

For more details on the necessary steps for scheduling the exam, see Appendix E: Checklist for Industry Track Oral Exam of this handbook.

7 Resources

7.1 Benton Hall

Entrance to Benton Hall outside of normal working hours requires a Miami ID card swipe the outside of the door.  At times, entrance to certain floors and/or certain labs within Benton will also require an ID.  See the CSE department administrator in the CSE office (205 Benton) to gain ID access.

7.2 Graduate Study Room and Graduate Assistant Offices

Each graduate student will be assigned a desk in one of two graduate student office suites; Benton 200 or Benton 214.  Seats are assigned once a year, in August, by the graduate director. Students may apply to the graduate director if they need to be moved. Each student will be assigned a desktop computer to use in their work. Entrance to the graduate student office suites is via an RFID embedded in University ID cards.

7.3 Mailboxes

Mailboxes are provided for all graduate students in 214 Benton.  Students should check their mailboxes at least once per week.

7.4 Computing Accounts

7.4.1 College of Engineering and Computing Local Area Network

Personal computers in Benton and Garland Halls are networked using an Ethernet local area network (LAN) as well as Wi-Fi.  Software is available for both Windows and Mac OSX for use on these machines.  Graduate students will be assigned individual login ids and networked file space.  This LAN is interconnected to the Miami University campus network (MUNet).

7.4.2 College of Engineering and Computing Unix Systems

The College Engineering and Computing maintains a number of multi-user or server computers running versions of Linux.  Accounts are assigned upon request or for certain classes.  To obtain a personal account contact the CEC Director of Computer Labs.

7.5 Library

Computer science books are house in the B.E.S.T. Science Library in Laws Hall. Many materials, including the ACM and IEEE digital libraries, may be accessed online though the library web site: http://www.lib.miamioh.edu

7.6 Web Pages of Interest

Several web pages should be of special interest to you.  These are:

http://www.miamioh.edu/                         Miami’s home page

http://mymiami.miamioh.edu/                   Miami’s student/faculty/staff web portal

http://cec.miamioh.edu/                            Engineering & Computing home page

http://www.lib.miamioh.edu/                     Miami libraries

http://cse.miamioh.edu/                            Comp. Sci. & Software Engineering home page

http://cse.miamioh.edu/csmasters             MSCS program home page

7.7 Resources for “All But Thesis” Students

Students are not entitled to any Miami University resources unless they are enrolled at the University, or during the summer when they were enrolled the previous spring. In particular, non-enrolled students may not:

  • Use University computer systems or lab spaces
  • Use the University library
  • Present a thesis proposal
  • Give a thesis defense

See also the “Research Phase Continuous Enrollment Policy” section above.

8 Administration of the Graduate Program

8.1 Administration

The graduate program is administered by the Departmental Graduate Director and Graduate Committee.

8.1.1 Graduate Director

The Graduate Director is Dr. Eric Bachmann, room 201B Benton Hall, phone: (513) 529-0786, fax (513) 529-0333, email: eric.bachmann@miamioh.edu.

8.1.2 Graduate Committee

A committee of graduate faculty recommends policy and procedures to the faculty as a whole.  The Graduate Committee also considers student plans of study, petitions and requests for exceptions to the requirements for the program, and any other issues of importance for the operation of the program.

8.1.3 Assistant to Graduate Director

The assistant to the graduate director is Patty Strecker, room 205 Benton Hall, email: streckpm@miamioh.edu.

8.2 Student Advisory Committee

A committee of graduate students may be appointed by the Graduate Director to act in an advisory capacity and help to facilitate communication between the faculty and the graduate student community.

9 Faculty

A list of the CSE faculty and their research interests may be found in the CSE department undergraduate handbook.

10 Course Descriptions

Course descriptions, pre-requisites, and electronic syllabi for all courses can be found at: http://miamioh.edu/cec/academics/departments/cse/academics/course-descriptions/index.html

11 MSCS Full Time Summer Study and Summer Scholarships

Students on assistantship who intend to continue their studies during the summer, may qualify for a summer scholarship. A sample of summer scholarship application form is in Request for Graduate Summer Scholarship of this document.

The following is a summary of the Miami Graduate School and College of Engineering and Computing summer scholarship policy.

11.1 Requirements for Summer Scholarship

Course Work Expectations
Students must enroll in at least 3 graduate credits. Students may enroll in any graduate courses, including thesis research, approved by their advisor for summer session.

Residency and Research Expectations
Students are expected to be in residence for 10 weeks of the summer for a full scholarship, or 5 weeks for a half scholarship payment, and to conduct research for a minimum of 20 hours per week. This is in addition to hours devoted to course work, if the student enrolls in additional summer courses.

The only exceptions to the residency requirement will need to be agreed to in writing by the thesis advisor and graduate program director prior to summer term.

Additional Employment
Students receiving the Graduate Summer Scholarship may hold additional employment for up to twenty (20) hours a week during the summer, provided that they have permission from their department chair and the Graduate School.

11.2 Requirements for faculty-graduate student interaction during full time summer graduate study

Students and faculty should be interacting on a regular basis to ensure that adequate progress is being made on research.