Computer Science Master of Science Degree

In this dynamic computer science master’s degree, you’ll explore computer graphics and visualization, data management, and intelligent systems while developing the skills to excel in this ever-changing field.


99%

Outcome Rate of RIT Graduates

$110.5K

Median First-Year Salary of RIT Graduates


Overview

RIT’s computer science master’s degree is designed for students who have an undergraduate degree (or minor) in computer science, as well as those who have a strong background in a field in which computers are applied, such as engineering, science, or business. The degree is offered on a full- or part-time basis and can be completed either on-campus or online.

Computer Science Master’s Degree–On-Campus or Online

In the computer science master’s degree, you’ll apply theoretical principles underlying computer science, ensuring you acquire the intellectual tools necessary to keep up-to-date in this rapidly evolving discipline. With focused course work in areas such as computer graphics and visualization, data management, distributed systems, intelligent systems, programming languages and tools, and security, you’ll be prepared for career advancement in a range of areas.

The on-campus and online versions of the program–from curriculum, faculty, and cluster options–are identical. You will have access to RIT’s resources, including computing labs and libraries. The highly acclaimed staff in the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education provides advice and guidance to help you plan, prepare, and meet your career goals and aspirations. Application requirements, the admission review process, and tuition are the same for both programs. All applications are considered for scholarships, regardless of online or on-campus study.

Computer Science Master’s Curriculum

Regardless of how you complete the computer science master’s degree (on-campus or online), the program consists of one core course, three cluster courses, four electives, and a thesis or project. The program prepares for academic and research careers in computer science or related disciplines. It is designed for students who have an undergraduate major or minor in computer science as well as those who have a strong background in a field in which computers are applied.

Full-time students take three or four courses per semester and may be able to complete the course work in three semesters. Full-time students who are required to take additional bridge courses may be able to complete the course work in four semesters.

Part-time students take one or two courses per semester and may be able to complete the course work in four to five semesters. The time required to complete a master’s project is one semester. To complete the master’s thesis, two semesters is typical.

Clusters

You will select three cluster courses from the following areas:

  • The computer graphics and visualization cluster provides the technical foundations for graduate studies in computer graphics and image understanding. Areas for further study include graphics programming, rendering and image synthesis, computer animation and virtual reality, image processing, and analysis, and data visualization.
  • The data management cluster studies the foundational data management and knowledge discovery challenges prevalent in the design, analysis, and organization of data. The courses cover general database issues including database design, database theory, data management, and data mining.
  • The distributed systems cluster studies systems formed from multiple cooperating computers, including the analysis, design, and implementation of distributed systems, distributed middleware, and computer networking protocols, including security.
  • Intelligent systems encompass the study of algorithms and architectures that enable effective decision-making in complex environments. Courses cover computer vision, robotics, virtual theater, sensor networks, data mining, document recognition, and the theoretical foundations of decision-making (e.g., Markov chains and the properties of voting protocols).
  • The languages and tools cluster combines language design and implementation together with architecture and the use of software development tools. Students specializing in this cluster gain a broad understanding of theoretical and applied knowledge.
  • The security cluster spans topics from networking to cryptography to secure databases. By choosing different domains in which to study security students gain a broad understanding of both theoretical and applied knowledge.
  • The theory cluster studies the fundamentals of computation, which includes complexity theory to determine the inherent limits of computation, communication, and cryptography and the design and analysis of algorithms to obtain optimal solutions within those limits.
Electives

Electives provide a breadth of experience in computer science and applications areas. Students who wish to include courses from departments outside of computer science need prior approval from the graduate program director. Refer to the course descriptions in the departments of computer science, engineering, mathematical sciences, and imaging science for possible elective courses.

Master's Thesis/Project

Students may choose the thesis or project option as the capstone to the program. Students who choose the project option must register for Computer Science MS Project. Students participate in required in-class presentations that are critiqued. A summary project report and public presentation of the student's project (in poster form) occur at the end of the semester.


Students are also interested in: Computing Security MS, Software Engineering MS, Information Technology and Analytics MS, Computing and Information Sciences Ph.D., Computer Engineering MS

This program is also offered online, see Overview.
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Careers and Cooperative Education

Typical Job Titles

Associate Software Engineer Backend Developer
Big Data Platform Engineer Data Scientist
Full-Stack Software Engineer Site Reliability Engineer
Software Developer Software Engineer
Technology Analyst

Salary and Career Information for Computer Science MS

Cooperative Education

Cooperative education, or co-op for short, is full-time, paid work experience in your field of study. And it sets RIT graduates apart from their competitors. It’s exposure–early and often–to a variety of professional work environments, career paths, and industries. RIT co-op is designed for your success.

Cooperative education is optional but strongly encouraged for graduate students in the computer science MS degree.

Curriculum for Computer Science MS

Computer Science (thesis option), MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
CSCI-665
Foundations of Algorithms
This course provides an introduction to the design and analysis of algorithms. It covers a variety of classical algorithms and their complexity and will equip students with the intellectual tools to design, analyze, implement, and evaluate their own algorithms. Note: students who take CSCI-261 or CSCI-264 may not take CSCI-665 for credit. (Prerequisites: (CSCI-603 and CSCI-605 and CSCI-661 with grades of B or better) or ((CSCI-243 or SWEN-262) and (CSCI-262 or CSCI-263)) or equivalent courses. This course is restricted to COMPSCI-MS, COMPSCI-BS/MS, or COMPIS-PHD students.) Lec/Lab 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
CSCI-790
Computer Science MS Thesis
Thesis capstone of the master's degree program. Student must submit an acceptable thesis proposal in order to enroll. It is expected that the work would lead to a paper of the caliber of those generally acceptable to a national conference. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer).
6
 
Cluster Courses
9
 
Electives
12
Total Semester Credit Hours
30

Computer Science (project option), MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
CSCI-665
Foundations of Algorithms
This course provides an introduction to the design and analysis of algorithms. It covers a variety of classical algorithms and their complexity and will equip students with the intellectual tools to design, analyze, implement, and evaluate their own algorithms. Note: students who take CSCI-261 or CSCI-264 may not take CSCI-665 for credit. (Prerequisites: (CSCI-603 and CSCI-605 and CSCI-661 with grades of B or better) or ((CSCI-243 or SWEN-262) and (CSCI-262 or CSCI-263)) or equivalent courses. This course is restricted to COMPSCI-MS, COMPSCI-BS/MS, or COMPIS-PHD students.) Lec/Lab 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
CSCI-788
Computer Science MS Project
Project capstone of the master's degree program. Students select from a set of possible projects and confirm that they have a project adviser. Students enroll in a required colloquium component that meets weekly, during which they present information, related to their projects. Projects culminate with delivery of a final report and participation in a poster session open to the public. (Restricted to students in COMPSCI-MS and COMPSCI-BS/MS programs.) Colloquium 3, Project 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
 
Cluster Courses
9
 
Electives
15
Total Semester Credit Hours
30

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the MS in computer science, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

Prerequisites

Applicants must satisfy prerequisite requirements in mathematics (differential and integral calculus, probability and statistics, discrete mathematics, and computer science theory) and computing (experience with a modern high-level language [e.g., C++, Java], data structures, software design methodology, introductory computer architecture, operating systems, and programming language concepts).

Bridge Courses

If an applicant lacks any prerequisites, bridge courses may be recommended to provide students with the required knowledge and skills needed for the program. If any bridge courses are indicated in a student's plan of study, the student may be admitted to the program on the condition that they successfully complete the recommended bridge courses with a grade of B (3.0) or better (courses with lower grades must be repeated). Generally, formal acceptance into the program is deferred until the applicant has made significant progress in this additional course work. Bridge program courses are not counted as part of the 30 credit hours required for the master's degree. During orientation, bridge exams are conducted. These exams are the equivalent to the finals of the bridge courses. Bridge courses will be waived if the exams are passed.

Learn about admissions, cost, and financial aid 

Research

Faculty members in the department of computer science are actively engaged in the following research areas: artificial intelligence, computer graphics and visualization, computer science education, data science, distributed systems, language and tools, security, and theory

There are many opportunities for graduate students to participate in these research activities as part of their thesis or project work and as independent study.

Latest News

  • March 21, 2022

    two students working in a room surrounded by orange windows.

    RIT Master Plan cuts tuition in half for eligible alumni

    RIT is extending a special graduate tuition scholarship program to recent alumni as the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year. The program helps alumni who graduated during the pandemic enhance their skill set for the new economy through master’s degrees that build upon collaboration, analytical thinking, complex problem solving, and flexibility. 

  • December 1, 2021

    exterior of Golisano Computing building at dusk.

    From floppy disks to the cloud

    In 2001, the dot-com bubble was bursting and investors had lost confidence in internet companies. Twenty years later, data has become a new currency, and people can access just about anything from their smartphones. Throughout all these changes, Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences has evolved into the largest college at RIT, with more than 4,600 students this year. Since its creation 20 years ago, GCCIS has awarded more than 14,000 degrees—in a growing number of computing disciplines.