Graduate Program Information

Program of Study (POS)

Extra Courses

You may take courses not listed in the POS in which you are enrolled, but the graduate school will charge you for the tuition even if you have the waiver.

If you take a class for not listed on your POS you will need to complete the Change of Program of Study form and everyone on your committee must approve the course.

The Graduate school will accept just a letter from your major professor; however, CS Department rules require everyone on your committee to approve and not just your major professor.

If you take a class and do not change it on your POS, you will have to repay back the tuition if you received a waiver on it, and you will not be able to graduate.

Changing your Plan

If you are switching from Plan A to B or vice versa, you will need to make the changes to your POS to reflect this. (For example, change 6 credits of CS 6970 to 2-3 credits of CS 6970, and change 30 credits to 34 credits of coursework when switching from Plan A to Plan B.) On the comments you will need to make sure you describe switching plans.

If you are interested in switching to (or from) the Master of Computer Science program, please contact Caitlin Thaxton.

Independent Study Courses

CS 5950, CS 6950, and CS 7950 are offered as independent study courses. To enroll in one of the above courses you will need to find a professor who is willing to supervise you. Try asking someone whose teaching or research interests are in the same area as your independent study idea. For Plan A and B, it is usually your Major professor. You will discuss the project and the grading criteria with your supervisor, and then complete and submit the Independent Study request form.

Once your request has been approved, Caitlin Thaxton will unlock the course so you may register for it.


You must have formed your committee by the last day of classes in your first semester of your Master's Program. 

For Plan A and B, you can choose your committee as long as one person is outside of your major professor's specialization. For Plan C, it is a set committee form, so you must submit the completed form to Caitlin Thaxton.

Matriculated Graduate Students

To qualify to be a full-time matriculated graduate student you must either:

  • Register for 9 or more graduate credits
  • Register for 6 or more graduate credits if employed as a graduate assistant for 15 hours per week or more
  • Register for 3 graduate credits with all required coursework completed and only the research component of the degree remaining (the student’s Program of Study must have been submitted to the School of Graduate Studies)
  • Register for at least 3 graduate credits during the semester of the final thesis defense or, in a nonthesis degree program, the last semester of coursework required on the student’s Program of Study.
  • Register for at least 9 graduate credits for each semester in which the doctoral resident tuition award is received.

Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)

GRE scores are valid for 5 years

We require at least an 80% in the Quantitative and 40% in Verbal and Analytical. If you fall below this, you must make up for it in other areas. It will be up to the review committee to decide if you make up for it in another area. The review committee will only look at completed applications forwarded to them from USU's graduate school.

The GRE requirement is required to be admitted and cannot be waived.


Writing and Formatting

Make sure you follow the formatting requirements from the Graduate School. You can use the Word template found on the requirements page or use a LaTeX template package. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure you comply with the current requirements.


There is a 10-day requirement for the defense of a student's dissertation. Even if the Graduate school offers to waive the requirement the CS Department will not. Make sure to plan with deadlines in mind.

After the Defense

In your final semester you will receive an email from Caitlin Thaxton with detailed graduation steps. These steps will outline this process.

Ph.D. Students

Switch to MS

If you are admitted as a Ph.D. student and want to change to an MS, you can do so within three weeks of the start of your second semester. If you choose to make the change after that date, you must get permission from your Major Professor, the Department Head, and the Graduate Program Coordinator.

To change, you will need to get a Department Degree Change form from the Graduate School. Once it has been approved you will need to form a new committee and POS.

Non-CS Masters Background

If you have a MS in something other than Computer Science the review committee will need to review your masters and see how many (up to 30) will count towards the 70 credits you need.

Tuition Award

As a Ph.D. student you are eligible for up to 70 credits of nonresident and resident tuition.

However, depending on what is required on your POS this may be limited to a smaller amount.


Ph.D. students have 8 years to finish their degree.

International Students

Reduced Course Load Form

As an international student, you must always take at least 9 credits per semester, or fill out a reduced course load form. There are only a few reasons why a student can fill out a reduced course load form:

  • They hold a graduate assistantship and are registered for 6 semester hours
  • This is their final semester before graduating (plan C)
  • Student is completing formal coursework and is working full time on thesis or dissertation
  • Student has completed formal coursework and is working full time on thesis or dissertation
  • Medical reasons

USU 7777

USU 7777 provides a grace semester course for International Students. A student must have defended already in order to take this course.

This course will allow international students to have a semester similar to the grace semester available to domestic students. There is no cost for the course. It is non-repeatable and non-graded and will not be calculated towards degree completion. These credits cannot be used towards a tuition award. The prerequisite for the course is a successful Record of Examination form. The purpose of USU 7777 is to maintain the "in-status" classification with ICE without paying tuition cost. Special approval is required for registration.

TOEFL Scores

TOEFL scores are valid for 2 years. You can retake the test or take the IELT classes if your score is not valid.

Conditional passes are no longer offered if you have not passed the TOEFL.