M.S. in Computer Science (Computer Engineering Specialization)

Admission to the M.S. program requires a strong background in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, or a related scientific or engineering field. Background courses which contain much of what is needed include: in mathematics - calculus, linear algebra, and probability and statistics; in computer science - programming languages, computer organization, discrete structures, algorithms and information structures, computer architecture and operating systems.

Degree Options

Requirements for the master's degree may be met through one of two options, which should be discussed with an advisor. The thesis option (Option A) is intended for students who wish to pursue a career in research or who are planning further graduate study. The coursework option (Option B) is generally recommended for students who plan on the M.S. being a terminal degree. Requirements for each option are given below.

Course Requirements

The courses listed below constitute basic required core courses. The requirement for a specific core course is satisfied if its 400-level counterpart, or its equivalent (for transferred students), was taken prior to admission into this degree program. In that case, the 800-level course may not be taken for degree credit. However, if the 400-level counterpart, or its equivalent (for transferred students), was not taken prior to admission, then the 800-level course must be taken, and counts toward the credit-hour requirements of subsection option A and option B.

  1. Computer Architecture (CSCE 830)
  2. VLSI Design (CSCE 834 or EE 870)
  3. Communication Networks (CSCE 862)

Breadth Requirements

At least 3 credit hours must be in theory track defined in the computer science M.S. and Ph.D. program requirements (http://unlcms.unl.edu/csce/ms-and-phd-tracks).

Additionally, the student must attend at least 15 colloquia, doctoral oral presentations, and/or master's thesis presentations during the M.S. program. A sign-up sheet is used during these events as proof of attendance.

Depth Requirements

Depth courses are divided into several areas of computer engineering concentration (tracks) as shown in the table at the end of this document. At least 6 credit hours of 900 level courses must be taken within a single track. The assignment of a particular CSCE 896 or CSCE 990 or CSCE 996 course to a specific track shall be determined by the instructor.

CSCE 896, CSCE 897, CSCE 898, CSCE 899, CSCE 996 courses taken as independent study courses usually count only towards the depth requirements. When CSCE 896 and 990 are taken as regular courses the student's supervisory committee may, if deemed appropriate, assign them to a track and they can be counted in the breadth requirements.

Note: The division of courses into tracks is only for the purpose of specifying the depth requirements. After the depth and breadth requirements are satisfied, in consultation with his/her advisor, the student may choose the remaining course work from any graduate courses offered by the School of Computing or other departments.

Option A (Thesis)

The requirements for this option may be satisfied by taking a total of 30 credit hours. The students who choose this option must complete a thesis under the supervision of a graduate faculty member in the School of Computing. The thesis (CSCE 899) may be taken for 6-9 credit hours. The student is required to take at least 15 credit hours of graduate-only courses in computer science including thesis hours. 

Of the 30 hours, no more than 12 credit hours can include independent study type courses (CSCE 896, CSCE 897, CSCE 898, CSCE 899, CSCE 990, and CSCE 996). When CSCE 896 and 990 are taken as regular courses, they are not counted toward the 12-hour limit. Each student must take at least two courses (6 credit hours) in each of the three tracks: Theory, Systems, and Applications. See track listing for detailed information.

The student must submit a thesis based on the conducted research and pass an oral examination. The oral examination committee consists of three faculty members approved by the graduate chair. The names of the committee members are suggested by the student in consultation with the student's advisor.

A typical plan for this option consists of 9 credit hours of regular courses for each of the first two semesters, a combination of regular courses, independent study (or research other than thesis) and thesis for 9 credit hours in the third semester and 3 credit hours of thesis in the final semester; however, the student should determine an exact program in consultation with the supervisory committee.

Additionally, the student must attend at least 15 colloquia, doctoral oral presentations, and/or master's thesis presentations during the M.S. program. 

Summary of Requirements:
  • Total credit hours: 30
  • CSCE 899 (M.S. thesis): 6-9 credit hours
  • Graduate-only courses: 15 credit hours (including CSCE 899 credit hours and at least 9 graduate-only courses credit hours)
  • Breadth and depth: As described above.
  • 15 colloquia, doctoral dissertation or master's thesis oral presentations

Option B (Courses Only)

The requirements for this option may be satisfied by taking a total of 30 credit hours of courses.  The program must include at least 15 hours of graduate-only courses, and at least 6 credit hours in each of the three tracks: Theory, Systems, and Applications. See track listing for detailed information. The courses must not include independent study type courses (CSCE 896, CSCE 897, CSCE 898, CSCE 899, CSCE 990, and CSCE 996). However, CSCE 896 and CSCE 990 may be taken as a part of the program when they are offered as regular courses. There is no research (thesis) requirement and there is no final examination. There is no advisor or supervisory committee in this option.  However, if a student does want some research experience, the student must find an advisor and can take 3 to 6 hours of independent study type courses.

A typical plan for this option consists of 9 credit hours of regular courses for each of the first three semesters, and 3 credit hours of courses in the final semester. A student may choose to take 3 credit hours in the summer and complete the program in one and a half years. 

Additionally, the student must attend at least 15 colloquia, doctoral oral presentations, and/or master's thesis presentations during the M.S. program.

Summary of Requirements:
  • Total credit hours: 30
  • Graduate-only courses: 15 credit hours
  • Breadth and depth: As described above.
  • 15 colloquia, doctoral dissertation or master's thesis oral presentations

Memorandum of Courses

The program of study is formally established by filing a "Memorandum of Courses" with the Office of Graduate Studies. The memorandum must be filed before the student has received grades in more than one-half of the prescribed program, in most cases this is before the end of the student's second semester in the M.S. program. The memorandum must be signed by the advisor and submitted to the graduate secretary. It is then signed by the graduate chair, and finally by the dean of graduate studies. The memorandum cannot be filed until the student has cleared all the deficiency courses listed in his or her certificate of admission.

Thesis Report

All students must complete a thesis under the supervision of a member of the graduate faculty. It is expected that the work done in a thesis has some original research contribution. It is expected that the work done in a thesis has some original research contribution and is of good quality.

The student is required to write the thesis in a standard style (Use the “Guidebook for Preparing your Thesis or Dissertation” available from the Office of Graduate Studies.) LaTeX templates are also available on the school computers.

Following the review by the advisor, copies of the thesis report are given to the members of the supervisory committee. The student must give a copy to each committee member at least two weeks before the final oral examination. Students working on a thesis must also submit a copy to the Graduate Studies Office at least two weeks prior to the date of the oral examination.

Final Oral Examination

A final oral examination is required for all students. The student must file a "Final Examination Report for Master's Degree” form at least four weeks before the required oral examination in their last semester of study. The oral examination will be scheduled for two hours and consist of a defense of the thesis. The presentation is open to the public and the student is required to give an abstract (electronic copy) to the office to be used for advertising. After the public presentation and a question-and-answer period, the remainder of the examination is conducted privately by the supervisory committee. The examination is based on the thesis and other course work.

The supervisory committee may require the student to do additional work and the advisor is generally responsible for making sure that the work is completed. The advisor decides on the grade of the M.S. thesis.

Final Report

The student is expected to make the changes recommended by the supervisory committee and prepare a final copy of the thesis/report. The student should upload an electronic version of the thesis/report to UNL Digital Commons. The student is required to make a hard-bound copy of the thesis/report to the advisor, unless the advisor chooses not to require one. It is also customary to offer each member of the supervisory committee a copy of the final report.

Visit unl.edu/gradstudies/current/degrees/masters#thesis for the Office of Graduate Studies' instructions on the final thesis preparation and uploading.

Computer Engineering TRACKS

  • TRACK 1: CIRCUITS AND CYBER-PHYSICAL INTERFACES
  • CSCE 43X/83X. Cyber-Physical Systems and Interfaces *
  • CSCE 434/834 or EE 470/870. VLSI Design
  • CSCE 436/836. Embedded Systems
  • CSCE 421/821. Foundation of Constraint Processing
  • CSCE 476/876. Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • CSCE 496/896. Special Topics-VLSI Physical Design
  • CSCE 839. Robotics: Algorithms and Applications (CSCE 496/896. Special Topics-Robotics)
  • CSCE 990. Advanced Topics-Robotics
  • TRACK 2: SYSTEMS
  • CSCE 430/830 Computer Architecture
  • CSCE 413/813 Data Base Systems
  • CSCE 425/825 Compiler Construction
  • CSCE 432/832 High-Performance Processor Architectures
  • CSCE 437/837 File and Storage Systems
  • CSCE 455/855 Distributed Operating Systems
  • CSCE 456/856 Parallel Programming
  • CSCE 458/858 Real-Time Systems
  • CSCE 435/835 Cluster and Grid Computing
  • CSCE 496/896 Special Topics-Self-Managing Computer Systems
  • CSCE 930 Advanced Computer Architecture
  • CSCE 933 Fault Tolerance: System Design and Analysis
  • CSCE 990 Advanced Runtime Systems
  • TRACK 3: COMMUNICATIONS, NETWORKING, & SIGNAL PROCESSING
  • CSCE 462/862 Communication Networks
  • CSCE 464/864 Internet Programming
  • CSCE 463/863 Data and Network Security (CSCE 496/896 Special Topics-Data and Network Security)
  • CSCE 438/838 Sensor Networks
  • CSCE 472/872 Digital Image Processing
  • CSCE 473/873 Computer Vision
  • CSCE 952 Advanced Computer Networks
  • CSCE 953 Optical Communication Networks (CSCE 953. Adv Optical Networks)
  • CSCE 990 Seminar-Network Systems
  • CSCE 990 Special Topics-Adv Sensor Networks

*Final course numbers to be assigned for XX courses

MS-CE program requirements. Requirements effective Fall 2021.