Master of Science in Computer Science Plan B



Financial Aid



Requirement Summary

The admissions committee will consider the following in their decisions: Current degree (BS, MS) and the reputation of the programs where the degree was obtained, GPA, GRE scores, TOEFL/IELTS scores, curriculum vitae, industry experience, publications, recommendations, and whether a faculty member agrees to advise.

Minimum Requirements

  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
  • 3.0 GPA for the last 60 semester credits
  • Those who submit GRE scores should have above the 40th percentile on the verbal section and 80th percentile on the quantitative section. Those whose score(s) are below that level on either section will need to show compensating strength in their background.
  • TOEFL score of 79 or IELTS overall score of 6.0 and a minimum score of 5 on each subscale
  • Extensive experience in computing, programming experience in C++, and a course in Data Structures and Algorithms (CS 2420), as well as a working grasp of calculus and statistics

Application Materials


Official Transcripts

Each previously attended college and/or university, including Utah State University, must be listed on the application form, and the applicant must have an official transcript from each institution (except Utah State University) sent directly to the Utah State University School of Graduate Studies. Transcripts must be submitted for all coursework above the high-school level and all prior degrees. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a notarized translation. Transcripts submitted as application credentials become the property of the School of Graduate Studies and will not be copied for or returned to the applicant.


GRE Scores (Optional)

GRE scores are optional, but highly recommended. Applicants should request that their test report be sent directly to the School of Graduate Studies.


Three Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required; each must address the applicant's potential for success in the Master of Science in Computer Science, Plan B (MS/CS, Plan B) degree program. At least two of the letters must come from persons from whom the applicant has taken academic coursework. The letters must be sent directly to the School of Graduate Studies. The request is sent out electronically through the online application.



  1. International applicants from non-English-speaking countries must demonstrate competency in the English language by taking either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. Duolingo does not provide sufficient proof of English proficiency. The minimum required scores are as follows:
    • TOEFL internet-based test: 79
    • IELTS exam: overall score of 6.0 and a minimum score of 5 on each subscale.
  2. Scores that are more than 2 years old are not accepted.
  3. If an international applicant has a degree from a university in an English-speaking country, the TOEFL or IELTS is not required.
  4. International applicants may apply to USU as an undergraduate student in the Intensive English Language Institute (IELI) and:
    • Take and pass the IELI placement exam, or
    • Take the IELI placement exam and complete the required classes.
  5. Note: IELI does not offer level 0 or low-beginning English classes. IELI offers level 1, which is high-beginning. Students entering IELI must have a basic knowledge of English in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Passing the IELI placement exam or completing the required IELI classes does not guarantee matriculation into a graduate program.


A curriculum vitae and a simple research statement are required for students who plan to pursue an MS/CS, Plan B degree. The research statement can simply be the following: “I plan to pursue an MS/CS, Plan B degree and do not want any financial assistance.”

Note: Application materials may be submitted after paying the $55 nonrefundable application fee. For more information on application materials, visit the School of Graduate Studies' Steps to Apply and Admissions Policies.

Application Deadlines

Semester International Students All Other Students
Fall (Begins in August) March 10 July 1
Spring (Begins in January) October 15 October 15

Please note that Plan B students are not eligible for Departmental funding (Teaching Assistantships).

Note: Admitted students may defer their acceptance for a maximum of one year. Beyond one year, students need to reapply for their program.


Program Pathway

  1. Be accepted to the Master of Science in Computer Science, Plan B program and work with your temporary advisor: Caitlin Thaxton, Graduate Program Coordinator.
  2. Register for courses. CS 6900 Seminar must be completed during your first Fall semester.
  3. First Semester (due Nov. 1st or Apr. 1st): Form your graduate committee and complete the Supervisory Committee Approval Form (SCAF).
  4. Second Semester (due Apr. 1st or Nov. 1st): Submit your Program of Study (POS) by emailing Caitlin Thaxton, Graduate Program Coordinator, to let them know it is ready for approval. If you submit your POS late you may lose your tuition award.
  5. Third Semester (or sooner): Submit your Thesis Proposal Approval (TPA) .
  6. Take 2-3 credits of CS 6970 and conduct your research. Take 31-32 credits of coursework, as listed on your POS.
  7. Write your report and submit it to your major professor then committee. 
  8. Tentatively schedule your examination with your committee and complete your Appointment for Examination (AFE) at least 2 weeks prior.
  9. Present your report then complete any edits requested by your major professor.
  10. Complete the Plan B Report Submission form when you and your professor agree that it is ready for publication.
  11. Your MS/CS, Plan B program is complete after when you complete the coursework on your POS and your report has been approved by the library.
  12. Check with Caitlin Thaxton, Graduate Program Coordinator, about any final closeout steps for the CS department.

Supervisory Committee

  • New students are assigned a temporary advisor.
  • By the end of their first semester, students should know their research area and have identified a professor to supervise said research.
  • Students formulate a research idea/topic and approach the identified professor.
  • If the identified professor agrees to accept the new student, the professor becomes the student’s permanent advisor (also called Committee Chair or Major Professor).
  • Together, the student and the Committee Chair decide the other members of the student’s Graduate Supervisory Committee. See the webpage for your specific degree for information on who is eligible to serve on a committee.
  • The CS Department Head and the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies must approve the committee list.
  • For students joining the department in Fall semester, you will need to submit a Supervisory Committee Form (SCAF) by November 1st. For students joining the department in Spring semester, you will need to submit a SCAF by April 1st.
  • If your advisor leaves USU, it is your responsibility to get a new advisor. The advisor cannot, in general, direct your progress from another university (exceptions may be made for students who have passed the PhD proposal or are otherwise nearing completion of their degree).

Program of Study (POS) Requirements

The Program of Study (POS) is a contract among the student, committee members, and the School of Graduate Studies outlining which courses the student will take to meet the School of Graduate Studies requirements and complete their degree program.

Students joining the department in a Fall semester will need to submit a Program of Study by April 1st of their second semester. Students joining the department in a Spring semester will need to submit a Program of Study by November 1st of their second semester.

In order to be approved, the POS must follow the MS/CS, Plan B degree requirements listed on the USU Catalog. Requirements for a Computer Science MS Plan B POS are as follows:


At least 33-34 credits


1 credit of CS 6900


2-3 credits of CS 6970


18 credits of CS 6000+ courses. Excluding CS 6250, CS 6900, and CS 6970


12 additional credits of graduate coursework at the 5000-level or above


Up to 3 credits of CS 6250


Up to one course from CS 5950, CS 6950, and CS 7950


Additional credits of CS 6970 are not allowed.


Cannot include CS 6990, CS 7970, or CS 7990


If CS 5250 and CS 5260 are included, they must be taken the same semester.


May include up to 6 credits outside the CS department. Outside credits must be from: ECE, MATH, STAT, PSC 6150 or SOC 6150


Cannot include independent study, research, or continuing graduate advisement outside of the CS department.

GPA Policy

Before Fall 2020
  • No more than two courses used to satisfy these requirements can have grades below B-.
  • No courses used to satisfy these requirements can have grades below C.
  • Students must maintain a 3.00 GPA on all courses they take as a graduate student on all courses numbered 5000 or above.
  • Students must maintain a 3.00 GPA on all courses shown on his or her Program of Study Form.
  • Student must maintain a 3.0 GPA on all courses taken as a matriculated graduate student.
  • Student must maintain a 3.0 GPA all CS courses numbered 5000 or above.

Fall 2020 to Present
  • Graduate students are required to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA for degree-program courses. 
  • Grades of C+ or lower will not be accepted for a graduate degree.

Info! Students with an overall GPA below 3.0 at the completion of fall and spring semesters will be issued an academic warning. If a student’s institution GPA remains below 3.0 for two consecutive semesters, then they will be dismissed from the program.

Financial Aid

Departmental funding (in the form of teaching assistanships) is not available for Plan B students. Some students are able to find campus employment with other departments or research groups: