Computer Science - MS, MCS, PhD

College of Science

About This Degree

This department offers graduate students an extensive education in many areas in computer science. Its faculty members are engaged in research and cutting-edge advancements in computer science and they teach the graduate courses in the department giving graduate students individual attention. Students who graduate with advanced degrees in computer science have high job placement and, as computers are crucial to nearly every industry, continued growth in computer science careers is expected in the future. Additionally, the MS in computer science at USU is offered via distance education and available through evening classes allowing working professionals to obtain a master's degree.

There are six areas of research focus for graduate students and faculty within the department:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Computer vision: Artificial intelligence deals with the development of systems (hardware and/or software) that in some way exhibit intelligent behavior. Computer vision studies how to make sense of and use images and video. Teaching and research at USU in this area focuses on robotics, image and video analysis, machine learning, and agents.
  • Data Science: Data Science is an emerging field that seeks to visualize, analyze, and understand data, often big data. At USU researchers specialize in data quality, data visualization, data mining, and deep learning. USU offers an MS in Data Science as well.
  • Security: Security is about all aspects of secure, private and reliable data, communications, and software. At USU teaching and research centers on making security and privacy more usable and cyber security.
  • Algorithms: Algorithms are at the core of developing fast and efficient applications. USU researchers are at the cutting edge of algorithms in computational geometry, energy use, and bioinformatics.
  • Software systems: This is a broad area of computer science that covers every aspect of software development, with the goal to create more sophisticated, reliable, and secure software. USU researchers specialize in distributed computing, software engineering, and databases.
  • Computer education: Computer education covers ways to improve how we teach computer science and how to use computers in teaching. Researchers in this area at USU develop games, methodologies, and programs to improve education.

The Master of Computer Science (MCS) is a terminal degree with coursework requirements similar to the MS, but lacking the MS's requirement for original research.


At a Glance

College: College of Science

Department: Computer Science Department

USU Locations:

Program Requirements

Career And Outcomes

Career Opportunities

Careers in computer science can be categorized into the following four areas:

Software development (software systems)

  • Business applications
  • Game development
  • Web programming
  • Scientific computing

Finding and creating new uses for computers (AI, parallel computing, or bioinformatics)

  • Searching for cancer and other disease treatments
  • Automating medical images such as mammograms
  • Autonomous vehicles for use in agriculture and more

Solving computer problems (AI, parallel computing, or bioinformatics)

  • Research in computer theory
  • Creating more effective algorithms

Managing computer systems (software systems or parallel computing specializations)

  • This can be done for a wide variety of industries and companies

Additionally, PhD graduates are qualified to pursue academia or research positions with government or private labs.

Job Outlook



We will build on your goals and experiences while working together to design an individualized semester-by-semester plan. Your personalized plan will help you see a path from where you are now on to graduation. Even if you are unsure of the major you would like to pursue, we can help with resources and ideas.

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Admission Requirements

Students from any undergraduate background are welcome to apply; however, to be considered, applicants must have extensive experience in computing, programming experience in C++, and a course in data structures and algorithms, as well as a working grasp of calculus and statistics.

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Score at or above the 80th percentile on the quantitative section of the GRE
  • Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation

International students have additional admissions requirements.



  • Fall Semester:
    • March 10 (international students and funding consideration)
    • July 1 (all other students)
  • Spring Semester: October 15
  • No summer admission


  • Fall Semester: August 1
  • Spring Semester: October 15
  • Summer Semester: March 1


  • Fall Semester: February 1
  • Spring Semester: October 15
  • No summer admission

Program Requirements

PhD Qualifying Exams:

PhD students must successfully complete a three-part qualifying process:

  • As the first step, students must write a publishable paper and present it to their committee. There is no set time for completion, but it is recommended that it be completed sometime within the student’s first year.
  • Within one year of the paper production and presentation, students must pass an oral assessment of critical review skills. The committee will assign a series of scholarly articles the student must read and study, and the assessment will consist of a discussion of these articles.
  • Candidates are required to pass a preliminary exam in which they present the topic for their dissertation. This must be completed before students are allowed to proceed with their dissertations.

Plan Options

Students can receive the MS by pursuing one of three options:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework and must write a thesis.
  • The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or creative work of art and is expected to reflect equivalent scholarship standards as a thesis.

Financial Aid

The department offers a limited number of assistantships, both teaching and research, each year. These are competitive assistantships awarded to highly qualified students.

A variety of funding opportunities are available on the graduate school website.

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