Master of Computer Science (MCS) Degree

Program Learning Outcomes for the MCS Degree

Upon completing the MCS degree, students will be able to:

  1. Solve advanced Computer Science problems. Students will acquire and apply a graduate-level understanding of material in sub-areas of Computer Science.
  2. Design and implement complex software systems. Students will demonstrate skill in their design and implementation and function effectively in teams.
  3. Communicate effectively to a client and user.

Requirements for the MCS Degree

The MCS degree is a non-thesis master's degree. For general university requirements, please see Non-Thesis Master's Degrees. For additional requirements, regulations, and procedures for all graduate programs, please see All Graduate Students. Students pursuing the MCS degree must complete:

  • A minimum of 30 credit hours to satisfy degree requirements.
  • A minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate-level study (graduate semester credit hours, coursework at the 500-level or above). 
  • A minimum of 24 graduate semester credit hours credit hours must be taken at Rice University.
  • A minimum of 24 graduate semester credit hours must be taken in standard or traditional courses (with a course type of lecture, seminar, laboratory, lecture/laboratory). 
  • A minimum residency enrollment of one fall or spring semester of part-time graduate study at Rice University.
  • A maximum of 2 courses (6 graduate semester credit hours) from transfer credit. For additional departmental guidelines regarding transfer credit, see the Policies tab.
  • The requirements for one area of specialization (see below for areas of specialization). The MCS degree program offers twelve areas of specialization:
  • A 10 week-6 month internship. Students are responsible for obtaining and selecting an internship that best aligns with their career goals.
  • A minimum overall GPA of 2.67 or higher in all Rice coursework.
  • A minimum program GPA of 2.67 or higher in all Rice coursework that satisfies requirements for the non-thesis master’s degree.

The MCS degree is a terminal degree for students intending to pursue a technical career in the computer industry. MCS degree areas of specialization include artificial intelligence and robotics, computer vision, data science, databases, operating systems and security, computer networks, computer architecture, parallel computing, compiler construction, programming languages, and software engineering. The MCS degree program normally requires three semesters of study.

Students in the MCS degree program are expected to pay full tuition and all fees. No financial aid is available from the university or the department for MCS students.

The courses listed below satisfy the requirements for this degree program. In certain instances, courses not on this official list may be substituted upon approval of the program's academic advisor, or where applicable, the department or program's Director of Graduate Studies. Course substitutions must be formally applied and entered into Degree Works by the department or program's Official Certifier. Additionally, these must be approved by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Students and their academic advisors should identify and clearly document the courses to be taken.

Summary

Total Credit Hours Required for the MCS Degree30

Degree Requirements

Core Requirements 2
Databases
Select 1 course from the following:3-4
DATABASE SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION
INTRODUCTION TO DATABASE SYSTEMS
GRADUATE TOOLS AND MODELS - DATA SCIENCE
BIG DATA MANAGEMENT FOR DATA SCIENCE
Theory
Select 1 course from the following:3-4
PROBABILISTIC ALGORITHMS AND DATA STRUCTURE
GRADUATE DESIGN AND ANALYSIS OF ALGORITHMS
PRINCIPLES OF ALGORITHMS AND SOFTWARE AREA
Area of Specialization
Select 1 from the following Areas of Specialization (see Areas of Specialization below):6-8
AI and Robotics
Architecture
Compilers
Computer Vision
Data Science
Database
Networking
Optimization
Parallel Computing
PL Theory and Logic
Software Engineering
Systems and Security
Design Project 3
Select 1 course from the following:3-4
GRADUATE OBJECT-ORIENTED PROGRAMMING AND DESIGN
SOFTWARE ENGINEERING METHODOLOGY
COMPUTER SCIENCE PROJECTS 3
Ten Week to Six Month Internship
A ten week to six month internship is required. 4
Elective Requirements
Select an additional 10-15 credit hours from departmental (COMP) course offerings at the 500-level or above to reach 30 total credit hours. 510-15
Total Credit Hours30

Footnotes and Additional Information 

Areas of Specialization

Students must complete a tightly coupled two-course area of specialization (6-8 credit hours). Approved specialization areas appear below. Student-designed specialization areas are permitted if approved by the student's MCS advisor. Custom specialization areas may include coursework from departments other than Computer Science (COMP) and may include one independent study project (e.g. COMP 590). 

Area of Specialization: AI and Robotics
Select 2 courses from the following:6-8
NEURAL MACHINE LEARNING I
STATISTICAL MACHINE LEARNING
LARGE-SCALE MACHINE LEARNING
ALGORITHMIC ROBOTICS
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
A PRACTICAL INTRODUCTION TO DEEP MACHINE LEARNING
NEURAL MACHINE LEARNING AND DATA MINING II
Total Credit Hours6-8
Area of Specialization: Architecture
Select 2 courses from the following:7-8
HIGH PERFORMANCE COMPUTER ARCHITECTURE
APPROXIMATE COMPUTING SYSTEM FOR BIG DATA, SUPERCOMPUTING AND EMBEDDED SYSTEMS
COMPUTER SYSTEMS ARCHITECTURE
Total Credit Hours7-8
Area of Specialization: Compilers
Select 2 courses from the following:7-8
COMPILER CONSTRUCTION FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS
ADVANCED COMPILER CONSTRUCTION
ADVANCED COMPILATION FOR VECTOR PARALLEL PROCESSORS
Total Credit Hours7-8
Area of Specialization: Computer Vision
Select 2 courses from the following:6-7
INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTER VISION
COMPUTER GRAPHICS AND GEOMETRIC MODELING
COMPUTATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY
Total Credit Hours6-7
Area of Specialization: Data Science
Select 2 courses from the following:6-8
NEURAL MACHINE LEARNING I
DATABASE SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION
INTRODUCTION TO DATABASE SYSTEMS
STATISTICAL MACHINE LEARNING
LARGE-SCALE MACHINE LEARNING
A PRACTICAL INTRODUCTION TO DEEP MACHINE LEARNING
NEURAL MACHINE LEARNING AND DATA MINING II
Total Credit Hours6-8
Area of Specialization: Database
COMP 530DATABASE SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION3-4
COMP 533INTRODUCTION TO DATABASE SYSTEMS3
Total Credit Hours6-7
Area of Specialization: Networking
Select 2 courses from the following:8
MOBILE AND WIRELESS NETWORKING
ADVANCED COMPUTER NETWORKS
INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTER NETWORKS
Total Credit Hours8
Area of Specialization: Optimization
Select 2 courses from the following:6
OPTIMIZATION THEORY
NUMERICAL OPTIMIZATION
CONVEX OPTIMIZATION
Total Credit Hours6
Area of Specialization: Parallel Computing
Select 2 courses from the following:6-7
ADVANCED COMPILATION FOR VECTOR PARALLEL PROCESSORS
MULTI-CORE COMPUTING
PARALLEL COMPUTING
Total Credit Hours6-7
Area of Specialization: PL Theory and Logic
Select 2 courses from the following:8
COMPUTER-AIDED PROGRAM DESIGN
ADVANCED LOGIC IN COMPUTER SCIENCE
PRINCIPLES OF PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES
Total Credit Hours8
Area of Specialization: Software Engineering
Select 2 courses from the following:7-8
PRODUCTION PROGRAMMING
GRADUATE OBJECT-ORIENTED PROGRAMMING AND DESIGN
ADVANCED TOPICS IN OBJECT-ORIENTED DESIGN
SOFTWARE ENGINEERING METHODOLOGY
Total Credit Hours7-8
Area of Specialization: Systems and Security
Select 2 courses from the following:6-8
DESIGN AND ANALYSIS OF SECURE EMBEDDED SYSTEMS FOR IoT ERA
OPERATING SYSTEMS AND CONCURRENT PROGRAMMING
INTRODUCTION TO VIRTUALIZATION
INTRODUCTION TO DISTRIBUTED COMPUTER SYSTEMS
SECURITY OF HW EMBEDDED SYSTEMS
INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTER SECURITY
MOBILE AND EMBEDDED SYSTEM DESIGN AND APPLICATION
Total Credit Hours6-8

Professional Development

Students may take up to 6 credit hours from the following approved Professional Development coursework, which is encouraged, but not required.

Select up to 2 courses from the following:0-6
HOW TO BE A CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER
WORKPLACE COMMUNICATION FOR PROFESSIONAL MASTER'S STUDENTS IN ENGINEERING
TECHNICAL AND MANAGERIAL COMMUNICATIONS
LEADING TEAMS AND INNOVATION
ENGINEERING ECONOMICS
ETHICS AND ENGINEERING LEADERSHIP
PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION FOR ENGINEERING LEADERS
MANAGEMENT FOR SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
LEARNING HOW TO INNOVATE?
LEADERSHIP COACHING FOR ENGINEERS

Policies for the MCS Degree

Department of Computer Science Graduate Program Handbook

The General Announcements (GA) is the official Rice curriculum. As an additional resource for students, the department of Computer Science publishes a graduate program handbook, which can be found here: https://gradhandbooks.rice.edu/2021_22/Computer_Science_Graduate_Handbook.pdf

Financial Aid

No financial aid is available from Rice University or the Computer Science Department for students in the MCS degree program. 

Transfer Credit 

For Rice University’s policy regarding transfer credit, see Transfer Credit. Some departments and programs have additional restrictions on transfer credit. Students are encouraged to meet with their academic program’s advisor when considering transfer credit possibilities.

Departmental Transfer Credit Guidelines

Students pursuing the MCS degree should be aware of the following departmental transfer credit guidelines:

  • No more than 2 courses (6 credit hours) of credit from another U.S. or international universities of similar standing at Rice may apply towards the degree. Transferred courses must be comparable in content and depth to the corresponding course at Rice, and must not have counted toward another degree.
  • Request for transfer credit will be considered by the Computer Science Graduate Committee Chair, and the instructor of the equivalent Rice course. 

Additional Information

For additional information, please see the Graduate Programs website at https://www.cs.rice.edu/academics/graduate-programs or contact the department at gradapp@rice.edu.

Opportunities for the MCS Degree

Fifth-Year Master's Degree Option for Rice Undergraduate Students 

In certain situations and with some terminal master's degree programs, Rice students have an option to pursue a master’s degree by adding an additional fifth year to their four years of undergraduate studies.

Advanced Rice undergraduate students in good academic standing typically apply to the master’s degree program during their junior or senior year. Upon acceptance, depending on course load, financial aid status, and other variables, they may then start taking some required courses of the master's degree program. A plan of study will need to be approved by the student's undergraduate major advisor and the master’s degree program director.

As part of this option and opportunity, Rice undergraduate students:

  • must complete the requirements for a bachelor's degree and the master's degree independently of each other (i.e. no course may be counted toward the fulfillment of both degrees).
  • should be aware there could be financial aid implications if the conversion of undergraduate coursework to that of graduate level reduces their earned undergraduate credit for any semester below that of full-time status (12 credit hours).
  • more information on this Undergraduate - Graduate Concurrent Enrollment opportunity, including specific information on the registration process can be found here.

Rice undergraduate students completing studies in science and engineering may have the option to pursue the Master of Computer Science (MCS) degree. For additional information, students should contact their undergraduate major advisor and the MCS program director. 

Additional Information

For additional information, please see the Graduate Programs website at https://www.cs.rice.edu/academics/graduate-programs or contact the department at gradapp@rice.edu.