Computer Science

2015-16 General Catalog

Baskin School of Engineering
(831) 459-2158
http://www.soe.ucsc.edu

Faculty | Course Descriptions


Program Description

Computer science is the study of the theoretical and practical aspects of computer technology and computer usage. The Computer Science (CMPS) Department offers courses on a wide range of topics, many of which include a mathematical component, and offers undergraduate bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in computer science, as well as the master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees. Besides offering instructional courses, the department engages in a substantial research program in which both advanced undergraduates and graduate students participate.

The bachelor of arts (B.A.) program at UCSC is designed to give students a solid grounding in both theoretical and practical topics in computer science, computer engineering, and mathematics while leaving flexibility for a broad program of study, including many courses outside of science and engineering, or even for a double major in another discipline. The bachelor of science (B.S.) program is appropriate for students desiring a somewhat stronger concentration in the sciences, with more courses in computer science and computer engineering, as well as courses in physics or chemistry; this program also allows for electives outside of science and engineering.

Because many courses in both programs have prerequisites, students leaning toward any of these programs will enjoy greater scheduling flexibility if they begin some preparatory courses in their first year. The specific course requirements for each undergraduate degree are given below.

Applications of computer science are found in many other areas of study, from art and music to business and science. Thus, interdisciplinary activities are encouraged. For those students whose primary interest is in another area, a minor in computer science is offered.

Courses for Nonmajors

The Computer Science Department offers a wide range of courses intended for nonmajors as well as majors. These include CMPS 10, Introduction to Computer Science; CMPS 17, Social Networks; CMPS 80J, Technology Targeted at Social Issues; and CMPS 80S, From Software Innovation to Social Entrepreneurship. CMPS 10, Introduction to Computer Science, may be beneficial to students who are considering the major but have a limited background in computer science. There are also introductory programming classes intended for nonmajors: CMPS 5C, 5J, 5P, Introduction to Programming (in the C, Java, and Python languages).

Computer Science Policies

Declaration of the Computer Science Majors

Admission to the computer science majors is selective. First-year applications may receive direct admission at the time they apply to UCSC based on their high school record and test scores. Admission to the major after a student has entered UCSC is based on the grades received in all foundation courses (see below) attempted at UCSC and will be considered no sooner than the student’s second quarter. A cumulative GPA of at least 2.80 in these courses is required for declaration of computer science majors (Computer Science B.S. and Computer Science B.A.). At most one unsuccessful attempt (grade C-, D+, D, F, or NP) for a foundation course is permitted. In addition to this GPA requirement, after the first three quarters, students must have completed the foundation courses (listed below) and be able to complete the major within campus limits in order to be eligible to declare a computer science major. Denials of admission to the major may be appealed by submitting a letter to the School of Engineering Undergraduate Office, addressed to the Computer Science Undergraduate Director, describing why the prior performance is not an accurate reflection of the student's potential. Students who are informed that they are not eligible to declare the major may appeal this decision by submitting a letter to the department chair within 15 days from the date the notification was mailed. Within 15 days of receipt of the appeal, the department will notify the student, college, and Office of the Registrar of the decision.

Foundation Courses

The foundation courses for all computer science majors are as follows:

CMPS 12A/L (or Computer Engineering 13, or both CMPS 5J and CMPS 11) and 12B/M; Computer Engineering 16; and Mathematics 19A and 19B, or 20A and 20B, or 11A and 11B. CMPS 13H/L may be used instead of both CMPS 12A/L and 12B/M.

UCSC students that have completed three or more quarters at UCSC must complete the foundation courses before they can declare a computer science major.

Honors in the Majors

Students must obtain a GPA of 3.8 or higher in the courses in the major to be considered for the distinction of "Highest Honors in the Major." Students must obtain a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the courses in the major to be considered for the distinction of "Honors in the Major." The School of Engineering reserves the right to withhold honors based on other criteria, such as an incident of academic dishonesty.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major’s upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. Refer to major program statements for details.

Letter Grade Policy

Please refer to the School of Engineering section of the catalog (subheading: Letter Grade Policy).

Transfer Students

Most courses in the computer science program at UCSC have a strong theoretical component to prepare the student for designing, as opposed to simply using, computer systems. Often, courses taken at other institutions which emphasize applications of current languages and computers do not count toward the computer science major at UCSC.

At UCSC, students are first introduced to programming using the programming language Java. The core programming sequence, courses 12A/L and 12B/M (or 13H/L, which covers both 12A/L and 12B/M), exposes students to both Java and C. Many upper-division courses that involve programming use the C and C++ programming languages. Transfer students who are not familiar with both Java and C may need to take a remedial course. Students familiar with C++ and Unix should find the transition to Java and C relatively simple.

Transfer students must have completed all of the foundation courses listed above, or their articulated equivalents. A student lacking one foundation course may be admitted if they have completed at least one of CMPE 12/L or Physics 5A/L. It is highly recommended that all transfer students in computer science complete these two courses prior to admission.

Additional information on SOE policies can be found on the web at: http://ua.soe.ucsc.edu/policies-forms/.

School of Engineering Policies

Please refer to the School of Engineering section of the catalog (subheading: Admission to School of Engineering Majors) for additional policies that apply to all School of Engineering programs. These policies include admission to the major and the need for computer science students to obtain preapproval before taking courses elsewhere.

Preparation for the Major

It is recommended that high school students intending to apply to the computer science major have completed four years of mathematics (through advanced algebra and trigonometry) and three years of science in high school. Comparable college mathematics and science courses completed at other institutions also serve to properly prepare a student for the computer science major.

Program Learning Outcomes for B.S. or B.A. degree

Recipients of a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science at UCSC are expected to have the following skills and experiences:

1. Demonstrate mastery of computer science in the following core knowledge areas:

  • Algorithms, data structures, and complexity
  • Programming languages and compilers
  • Software engineering and development
  • Computer hardware and architecture

2. Apply system-level perspective by thinking at multiple levels of detail and abstraction and by recognizing the context in which a computer system may function, including its interactions with people and the physical world.

3. Apply problem-solving skills and the knowledge of computer science to solve real problems.

4. Understand how technological advances impact society and the social, legal, ethical and cultural ramifications of computer technology and their usage.

5. Write about and orally communicate technical material about computer science and computer systems, broadly conceived.

B.A. Major Requirements

The aim of this program is to expose students to a rigorous curriculum in computer science while maintaining sufficient flexibility so that students can take courses outside computer science, pursue a minor in another discipline, or complete a double major. Every student must complete a minimum of 15 courses, 7 lower-division and 8 upper-division. Out of these, the 7 lower-division courses and the first upper-division course are required preparatory courses for every student. Once these preparatory courses are completed, students tailor their own program by choosing 7 additional upper-division elective courses.

Lower-Division Requirements

Each student must successfully complete the following seven required preparatory courses:

Computer Science

CMPS 12A/L, Introduction to Programming(Accelerated)/Laboratory (or CMPS 5J, Introduction to Programming in Java and CMPS 11, Intermediate Programming. Computer Engineering 13 may be taken as an alternative to CMPS 12A/L. CMPS 13H/L may be taken as an alternative to CMPS 12A/L and CMPS 12B/M)

CMPS 12B/M, Introduction to Data Structures/Laboratory (CMPS 13H/L may be taken as an alternative to CMPS 12A/L and CMPS 12B/M)

Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering 12/L, Computer Systems and Assembly Language/Laboratory

Computer Engineering 16, Applied Discrete Mathematics

Mathematics

Mathematics 19A and 19B, Calculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics (credit for one or both may be granted with adequate performance on the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) calculus AB or BC Advanced Placement examination), or Mathematics 11A and 11B (Calculus with Applications), or Mathematics 20A and 20B, Honors Calculus

Applied Mathematics and Statistics

Applied Mathematics and Statistics 10, Mathematical Methods for Engineers I or Mathematics 21, Linear Algebra

Upper-Division Requirements

All students in the major must complete the following course:

CMPS 101, Algorithms and Abstract Data Types

In addition to the above course (and the lower-division requirements, listed above), students must complete upper-division electives chosen as follows:

  • complete three courses from the breadth list below;

  • complete two additional computer science electives chosen from any 5-credit upper-division computer science course except those numbered 191-194 and 196-199;

  • complete two additional 5-credit technical electives selected from the technical elective list below.

Complete the Disciplinary Communication requirement given below. At least 50 percent of these upper-division courses must be completed at UCSC.

Breadth List (complete at least three)

CMPS 102, Introduction to Analysis of Algorithms

CMPS 104A, Compiler Design

CMPS 111, Operating Systems

CMPS 112, Comparative Programming Languages

CMPS 115, Software Methodology

CMPS 122, Computer Security

CMPS 140, Artificial Intelligence

CMPS 160/L, Computer Graphics / Laboratory

CMPS 180/CMPS 180W, Database Systems I

Computer Engineering 110, Computer Architecture

Technical Elective List (complete at least two)

Any 5-credit upper-division course offered by the Baskin School of Engineering except those numbered 191 through 194 and 196 through 199.

Any 5-credit upper-division course from the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences except those numbered 190 and above.

Art 118, Computer Art: Theories, Methods, and Practices

Art 120/121, Advanced Projects in Computer Art I/II

Economics 100M, Intermediate Microeconomics, Math Intensive

Economics 100N, Intermediate Macroeconomics, Math Intensive

Economics 101, Managerial Economics

Environmental Studies 115A/L, Geographic Information Systems

Film and Digital Media170A, Fundamentals of Introduction to Digital Media Production

Film and Digital Media 177, Digital Media Workshop: Computer as Medium

Linguistics 112/113/114, Syntax I/II/III

Linguistics 116/118, Semantics II/III

Linguistics 125, Foundations of Linguistic Theory

Music 123, Electronic Sound Synthesis

Music 124, Intermediate Electronic Sound Synthesis

Music 125, Advanced Electronic Sound Synthesis

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major's upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement. The DC Requirement in computer science (B.A.) is satisfied by completing CMPS 115, CMPS 195, Computer Engineering 185, CMPS 132 and 132W, CMPS 185, or CMPS 180 and 180W. Some of these courses may also fulfill one of the upper-division electives listed above.

B.S. Major Requirements

This program is designed for students who wish to maximize exposure to computer science concepts and methods by taking a larger selection of upper-division computer science courses, as well as additional courses in the sciences and mathematics. A minimum of 21 courses must be completed for the B.S. in computer science, whereas a minimum of 15 courses must be completed for the B.A. in computer science. Out of the 21 courses, 10 are lower-division courses (including two science courses), and 11 are upper-division courses. The B.S. is more structured than the B.A.; 17 specific courses are required, and the remaining four are elective upper-division computer science or computer engineering courses.

Lower- and Upper-Division Requirements

Students are required to take the following 18 courses:

Computer Science

CMPS12A/L Introduction to Programming (Accelerated)/Laboratory (or CMPS5J, Introduction to Programming in Java and CMPS11, Intermediate Programming. Computer Engineering 13/L may be taken as an alternative to CMPS 12A/L. CMPS 13H/L may be taken as an alternative to CMPS 12A/L and CMPS 12B/M)

CMPS 12B/M Introduction to Data Structures/Laboratory (CMPS 13H/L may be taken as an alternative to CMPS 12A/L and CMPS 12B/M)

CMPS 101 Algorithms and Abstract Data Types

CMPS 102 Introduction to Analysis of Algorithms

CMPS 104A Fundamentals of Compiler Design I

CMPS 111 Introduction to Operating Systems

CMPS 112 Comparative Programming Languages

CMPS 130 Computational Models

Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering 12/L Computer Systems and Assembly Language/Laboratory

Computer Engineering 16 Applied Discrete Mathematics

Computer Engineering 110 Computer Architecture, or Computer Engineering 112, Computer and Game Console Architecture

Mathematics

Mathematics 19A and 19B, Calculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics, or Mathematics 20A and 20B, Honors Calculus

Mathematics 23A, Multivariable Calculus

Applied Mathematics and Statistics

Applied Mathematics and Statistics 10, Mathematical Methods for Engineers I; or Mathematics 21, Linear Algebra

Applied Mathematics and Statistics 131, Introduction to Probability Theory, or Computer Engineering 107, Probability and Statistics for Engineers

Physics or Chemistry

Either two physics or two chemistry courses, with their associated laboratories, from the following:

Physics 5A/L, Introduction to Physics I/Laboratory (or 6A/L); and either

Physics 5B/M, Introduction to Physics II/Laboratory (or 6B/M); or

Physics 5C/N, Introduction to Physics III/Laboratory (or 6C/N)

Chemistry 1A and 1B/M, General Chemistry/Laboratory; or

Chemistry 1A and 1C/N, General Chemistry/Laboratory.

Additional Upper-Division Electives

Four upper-division computer science or computer engineering courses with course number 190 or below, or CMPS 195. One of these courses may be replaced by one of the following upper-division mathematics courses:

Applied Mathematics and Statistics 114, Introduction to Dynamical Systems;

Applied Mathematics and Statistics 131, Introduction to Probability Theory;

Applied Mathematics and Statistics 147, Computational Methods and Applications;

Mathematics 115, Graph Theory;

Mathematics 117, Advanced Linear Algebra;

Mathematics 126, Mathematical Control Theory;

Mathematics 148, Numerical Analysis.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

The DC Requirement in computer science (B.S.) is satisfied by completing CMPS 115, CMPS 195, Computer Engineering 185, CMPS 132 and 132W, CMPS 185, or CMPS 180 and 180W. These courses may also fulfill one of the upper-division electives listed above.

Comprehensive Requirement for the Computer Science B.A. and B.S.

In addition to the above B.A. or B.S. requirements, students in the computer science majors must satisfy one of the following two exit requirements: pass one of the capstone courses (see Capstone Courses below); or successfully complete a senior thesis.

Capstone Courses

Students may choose from one of the following capstone courses to satisfy their exit requirement:

CMPS 104B Fundamentals of Compiler Design II

CMPS 117 Software Design Project II

CMPS 161/L Introduction to Data Visualization and Laboratory

CMPS 165 Data Programming for Visualization

CMPS 181 Database Systems II

CMPS 183 Web Applications

Students taking one of the capstone courses will enroll normally. Students need to pass the capstone course to pass the exit requirement. No course may be attempted more than twice without prior approval from the chair of the department offering the course. Withdrawals count as an attempted class for this purpose.

Senior Thesis

The senior thesis consists of a self-contained project within the broad scope of computer science, but one that is not available in the regular course offerings. A student wishing to complete a senior thesis must successfully complete a minimum of 5 credits in CMPS 195, Senior Thesis Research. The supervision of a senior thesis student is always at the discretion of the faculty member. The student first submits a written thesis proposal and obtains approval of a faculty sponsor. Then the student submits a written draft and makes an oral presentation to a faculty examining committee. After receiving feedback from the examining committee, the student submits one or more additional drafts, until the final draft is approved by the examining committee. The total amount of writing shall be consistent with the campus disciplinary communication requirement. A passing grade in CMPS 195 is earned when the final thesis is approved.

Computer Science Major Planners

The following are four sample academic plans for first-year students as preparation for the computer science major. Plans One A and Two A are suggested guidelines for students who have some prior experience with programming. Plans One B and Two B are for students who are considering the major and have no prior programming experience. Students who plan carefully can still have several openings free to take other breadth courses they find interesting.

Plan One A, B.A. Degree

Year Fall Winter Spring
1st
(frsh)
CMPS 10 MATH 19B CMPS 12B/M
MATH 19A CMPS 12A/L AMS 10
2nd
(soph)
CMPE 12/L CMPE 16 CMPS 101
     

Plan One B, B.A. Degree

Year Fall Winter Spring
1st
(frsh)
AMS 3 MATH 19A MATH 19B
CMPS 10 CMPS 5J CMPS 11
2nd
(soph)
CMPS 12B/M CMPE 16 CMPS 101
AMS 10 CMPE 12/L  

Plan Two A, B.S. Degree

Year Fall Winter Spring
1st
(frsh)
CMPS 12A/L CMPS 12B/M CMPE 16
MATH 19A MATH 19B MATH 23A
2nd
(soph)
CMPS 101 CMPE 12/L CMPS 102
AMS 10 PHYS 6A/L PHYS 6C/N

Plan Two B, B.S. Degree

Year Fall Winter Spring
1st
(frsh)
CMPS 10 CMPS 5J CMPS 11
MATH 3 MATH 19A MATH 19B
2nd
(soph)
CMPS 12B/M MATH 23A CMPS 101
AMS 10 PHYS 6A/L PHYS 6C/N

Minor Requirements

Twelve courses are required for the computer science minor. These courses are:

  • Mathematics 11A and 11B or 19A and 19B or 20A and 20B;

  • Applied Mathematics and Statistics 10 or Mathematics 21;

  • CMPS 12A/L (or Computer Engineering 13/L, or both CMPS 5J and CMPS 11);

  • CMPS 12B/M;

  • Computer Engineering 16;

  • CMPS 101;

  • four additional upper-division computer science courses from a list of approved electives (see the department's curriculum chart for the computer science minor at http://ua.soe.ucsc.edu/curriculum-charts/).

Upper-division computer engineering and mathematics courses that generally apply toward the computer science major may not be applied toward the computer science minor. In addition, some upper-division computer science courses may not be applied toward the computer science minor. There is no comprehensive examination or senior thesis requirement for the minor.

Graduate Programs

Program Description

The Computer Science Department at UCSC offers both a master's program and a doctoral program in computer science, as well as a master’s in games and playable media.

The goal of the computer science programs is to help students develop into independent scholars who are prepared for productive careers in research, teaching, and industry. The master of science (M.S.) degree may be used as a terminal degree or as the first step toward the doctor of philosophy degree (Ph.D.). The student-faculty ratio is five to one, making it possible for students to receive individual attention and to pursue programs that fit their individual needs. The intellectual atmosphere is enriched by regular colloquia and seminars presented by eminent contributors to the field, many of whom are associated with other major universities and industrial research centers in Silicon Valley and the wider San Francisco Bay Area.

The goal of the M.S. in games and playable media is to prepare students to make professional contributions to the creation of games and other forms of media that invite and structure play. The degree is offered through the UC Santa Cruz location in Silicon Valley, making possible deep connection and collaboration with local industry and economic development groups. The curriculum includes deep engagement with game creation as well as a focus on professional development. Students can also take advantage of the strong course offerings in games and related technologies on the Santa Cruz campus, as well as make connections with the department’s field-leading research groups. The M.S. in games and playable media is a four-quarter program that begins in fall quarter and ends in the following summer. Students are expected to complete coursework in one academic year, without leaves of absence.

The Computer Science Department enjoys a close relationship with the Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering Departments, the Biomolecular Engineering Department, the Applied Mathematics and Statistics Department, Technology Management Department, and the new Computational Media Department.

Most computer science Ph.D. students are hired as teaching assistants helping with undergraduate courses, hired as research assistants working for computer science and other School of Engineering faculty, or awarded fellowships to pursue their research.

Additional information on the computer science graduate programs can be found on the department's web pages at www.soe.ucsc.edu.

Requirements for the Computer Science Master’s Degree: Project Track

Course Requirements

Each student is required to take 40 credits as follows:

  • Computer Science 200, Research and Teaching in Computer Science and Engineering, 3 credits

  • Computer Science 201, Analysis of Algorithms, 5 credits

  • Computer Science 203, Programming Languages, 5 credits

  • Computer Science 296, Master's Project, 2 credits

  • a base requirement in computer architecture must be met by taking Computer Engineering 110 (grade B or higher) or Computer Engineering 202. Computer Engineering 110 can be taken to meet the architecture requirement, however, the credits will not be counted toward graduation requirements

  • one course each from three different breadth categories for a total of three courses (15 credits)—see www.cs.ucsc.edu/graduates/breadth/

  • all remaining courses must be regular, 5-credit graduate courses from computer science; courses that do not count include all courses numbered 200, 280, 296, 297, and 299

  • at least 25 credits must be in computer science

  • upper-division undergraduate UCSC computer science courses may be taken to strengthen a student's preparation for graduate studies. At most, 10 credits of UCSC upper-division undergraduate computer science courses (other than CMPS 101) may be counted toward the degree requirements.

  • with the exception of 200, 280, 296, 297, and 299, all graduate courses and upper-division courses must be taken for letter grade. Only courses with a letter grade of B- or higher can be counted towards the M.S. degree requirements.

  • courses that are taken to satisfy an undergraduate degree requirement cannot be counted towards the M.S. degree requirements. Undergraduates who are in their senior year at UCSC and are taking computer science upper-division courses or computer science graduate courses that are beyond their undergraduate degree requirements can count those courses as part of their M.S. degree should they apply to the computer science M.S. program.

  • courses from other institutions may be substituted for equivalent courses at UCSC (with the approval of the graduate advisor and graduate committee) but may not count toward the 40-credit requirement of the computer science M.S. degree. For example, a student may substitute an equivalent course for CMPS 201 but may not count that course toward the 40-credit requirement. As another example, a student may substitute an equivalent graduate course for CMPS 260 and count that as breadth but may not count that course toward the 40-credit requirement or as part of the 25 credits from computer science.

Each student must complete CMPS 200 in their first year.

Each student must complete CMPS 201 or a course to prepare the student for CMPS 201 in their first year, after which CMPS 201 should be completed by the end of the second year.

Each student must complete CMPS 203 or a course to prepare the student for CMPS 203 in their first year, after which CMPS 203 should be completed by the end of the second year.

Each student must complete Computer Engineering 110 or Computer Engineering 202 in their first year.

Project

Completion of a master's project is required for the master's degree. In consultation with the adviser, the student forms a master's project reading committee of at least two faculty members, each of whom is provided a copy of the project report. The final project must be accepted by the review committee before the award of the master of science degree.

Requirements for the Computer Science Master's Degree: Thesis Track

Course Requirements

Each student is required to take 43 credits as follows:

  • Computer Science 200, Research and Teaching in Computer Science and Engineering, 3 credits;

  • Computer Science 201, Analysis of Algorithms, 5 credits;

  • Computer Science 203, Programming Languages, 5 credits;

  • Computer Science 299, Thesis Research, 5 credits;
  • a base requirement in computer architecture must be met by taking Computer Engineering 110 (grade B or higher) or Computer Engineering 202. Computer Engineering 110 can be taken to meet the architecture requirement, however, the credits will not be counted toward graduation requirements;

  • one course each from three different breadth categories for a total of three courses (15 credits) —see www.cs.ucsc.edu/graduates/breadth/

  • all remaining courses must be regular, 5-credit graduate courses from computer science courses that do not count include all courses numbered 200, 280, 296, 297, and 299

  • at least 25 credits must be in computer science

  • upper-division undergraduate UCSC computer science courses may be taken to strengthen a student's preparation for graduate studies. At most, 10 credits of UCSC upper-division undergraduate computer science courses (other than CMPS 101) may be counted toward the degree requirements.

  • with the exception of 200, 280, 296, 297, and 299, all graduate courses and upper-division courses must be taken for letter grade. Only courses with a letter grade of B- or higher can be counted toward the M.S. degree requirements.

  • courses that are taken to satisfy an undergraduate degree requirement cannot be counted toward the M.S. degree requirements. Undergraduates who are in their senior year at UCSC and are taking computer science upper-division courses or computer science graduate courses that are beyond their undergraduate degree requirements can count those courses as part of their M.S. degree should they apply to the computer science M.S. program.

  • courses from other institutions may be substituted for equivalent courses at UCSC (with the approval of the graduate advisor and graduate committee) but may not count towards the 40-credit requirement of the computer science M.S. degree. For example, a student may substitute an equivalent course for CMPS201 but may not count that course towards the 40-credit requirement. As another example, a student may substitute an equivalent graduate course for CMPS2 60 and count that as breadth but may not count that course toward the 40-credit requirement or as part of the 25 credits from CMPS

Each student must complete CMPS 200 in their first year.

Each student must complete CMPS 201 or a course to prepare the student for CMPS 201 in their first year, after which CMPS 201 should be completed by the end of the second year.

Each student must complete CMPS 203 or a course to prepare the student for CMPS 203 in their first year, after which CMPS 203 should be completed by the end of the second year.

Each student must complete Computer Engineering 110 or Computer Engineering 202 in their first year.

Thesis

Completion of a master's thesis is required for the master's degree. To fulfill this requirement, the student submits a written proposal to a faculty member, usually by the third academic quarter. By accepting the proposal, the faculty member becomes the thesis adviser. In consultation with the adviser, the student forms a master's thesis reading committee with at least two additional faculty members, each of whom is provided a copy of the proposal. The student presents an expository talk on the thesis research, and the final thesis must be accepted by the review committee before the award of the master of science degree.

Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

Course Requirements

Each student is required to take 58 credits as follows:

  • CMPS 200, Research and Teaching in Computer Science and Engineering, 3 credits;

  • CMPS 201, Analysis of Algorithms, 5 credits;

  • CMPS 203, Programming Languages, 5 credits;

  • a base requirement in computer architecture must be met by taking Computer Engineering 110 or Computer Engineering 202 or equivalent elsewhere (approval required); Computer Engineering 110 can be taken to meet the architecture requirement, however, the credits will not be counted toward degree requirements;

  • one course each from three different breadth categories for a total of three courses (15 credits)—see www.cs.ucsc.edu/graduates/breadth/;

  • up to 10 credits of course 297, Independent Study or Research; or course 299, Thesis Research;

  • all remaining courses must be regular, 5-credit graduate courses from: computer science, within the School of Engineering (with adviser's approval); or outside the School of Engineering (with adviser's and grad director's approval); courses that do not count include all courses numbered 200, 280, 296, 297, and 299;

  • at least 33 credits must be in computer science;

  • graduate courses (not seminars) in related disciplines outside the list of approved graduate courses may be substituted, when necessary to strengthen a student's preparation for graduate studies, with prior approval from the adviser and the graduate director. Course selection should form a coherent plan of study and requires adviser approval. Undergraduate courses may not be used to satisfy Ph.D. course requirements;

  • each student is required to complete at least one quarter of teaching assistantship. This requirement can be met after advancement to candidacy. Certain exceptions may be permitted for those with extensive prior teaching experience or those who are not allowed to be employed due to visa regulations.

Ph.D. students who have satisfied the requirements for the master's degree are eligible to receive a masters degree.

Examinations and Dissertation

To continue in the Ph.D. program, students must pass a preliminary examination in their chosen research area by the end of their third year. Preliminary examinations are held during the first three weeks of each spring quarter; students must petition the computer science graduate committee for an examination in their chosen area two weeks before the end of winter quarter. Examination committees consist of four faculty members, two chosen by the student and two by the computer science graduate committee. The format of this oral examination is up to the examination committee; the examination will typically evaluate both general knowledge of the chosen area and specific understanding of selected technical papers. The preliminary examination requirement is waived for students who advance to candidacy by the end of their third year.

Each student writes a Ph.D. dissertation. The dissertation must show the results of in-depth research, be an original contribution of significant knowledge, and include material worthy of publication. Where appropriate, research internships with companies, government labs, or elsewhere are recognized (and may be required) as an integral part of the research leading to the dissertation. As the first step, a student submits a written dissertation proposal to a School of Engineering faculty member. By accepting the proposal, the faculty member becomes the dissertation supervisor. The dissertation proposal is publicly and formally presented in an oral qualifying examination given by a qualifying examination committee, approved by the graduate committee. The student must submit his or her written dissertation proposal to all members of the committee and the graduate assistant one month in advance of the examination.

Students are advanced to candidacy after they have completed the course requirements, passed the qualifying examination, cleared all Incompletes from their records, have an appointed dissertation reading committee, and paid the filing fee. Students who have not advanced to candidacy by the end of their fourth year will be placed on academic probation.

Each Ph.D. candidate submits the completed dissertation to a reading committee at least one month prior to the dissertation defense. The appointment of the dissertation reading committee is made immediately after the qualifying examination and is necessary for advancing to candidacy. The candidate presents his or her research results in a public seminar sponsored by the dissertation supervisor. The seminar is followed by a defense of the dissertation to the reading committee and attending faculty, who will then decide whether the dissertation is acceptable or requires revision. Successful completion of the dissertation fulfills the final academic requirement for the Ph.D. degree.

Transfer Credit

Up to three School of Engineering courses fulfilling the degree requirements of either the M.S. or Ph.D. degrees may be taken before beginning the graduate program through the concurrent enrollment program.

Ph.D. students who have previously earned a master's degree in a related field at another institution may substitute courses from their previous university with approval of the adviser and the graduate committee.

Courses from other institutions may not be applied to the M.S. degree course requirements.

Petitions should be submitted along with the transcript from the other institution or UCSC extension. For courses taken at other institutions, copies of the syllabi, exams, and other coursework should accompany the petition. Such petitions are not considered until the completion of at least one quarter at UCSC.

At most, a total of three courses may be transferred from concurrent enrollment and other institutions.

Review of Progress

Each year, the faculty reviews the progress of every student. Students not making adequate progress toward completion of degree requirements (see the Graduate Handbook for policy on satisfactory academic progress) are subject to dismissal from the program. Students with academic deficiencies may be required to take additional courses. Full-time students with no academic deficiencies are normally expected to complete the degree requirements at the rate of at least two courses per quarter. Full-time computer science students must complete course 201, Computer Engineering 202, and course 203 within two years and normally must complete all course requirements within two years for the M.S. and three years for the Ph.D.

Ph.D. students who have not advanced to candidacy by the end of their fourth year will be placed on academic probation.

Students receiving two or more unsatisfactory grades (U or letter grade below B-) in the School of Engineering (SoE) courses are not making adequate progress and will be placed on academic probation for the following three quarters of registered enrollment. Withdrawing or taking a leave of absence does not count as enrollment. Part-time enrollment is counted as a half quarter of enrollment.

Should any computer science graduate student fail a School of Engineering course while on probation, the Computer Science Department may request the graduate dean to dismiss that student from the graduate program. If after being removed from probation, the student again fails a School of Engineering course, he or she will return immediately to academic probation.

Graduate students experiencing circumstances or difficulties that impact their academic performance should contact their adviser and the graduate director immediately. Students may appeal their dismissal.

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Revised: 09/01/15