New Mexico State University

Milestones Towards the Masters Degree

Removing Undergraduate Deficiencies

We take seriously the statement in the Graduate Catalog that

"The preliminary training of the student working for the master's degree should be substantially the equivalent of the corresponding bachelor's degree at New Mexico State University."

Hence, an early milestone is the removal of undergraduate deficiencies (see the Undergraduate Deficiencies).

If you must satisfy undergraduate deficiencies, the department has provided a course designation of CS 469 which will allow you to satisfy those deficiencies while maintaining full-time graduate status. However, none of the classes taken as CS 469 will apply towards graduate credit.

Ensuring You Have an Appropriate Advisor

It is up to you to ensure that you have an advisor whose interests best match your own specialization in Computer Science. Find out what the faculty are interested in and do not hesitate to discuss your work with them. If you feel your current advisor is not appropriate, it is strongly encouraged to change advisors. If you decide to change advisors, make this change as soon as possible to ensure that your desired graduation date is not delayed. Inquire at the department office about how to do this.

The functions of your advisor are to help you with procedural problems, help you decide which courses to take, provide guidance in any thesis or project work you do for your Master's, and act as your most direct point of contact with the faculty as a whole.


Each master's student normally must write a thesis or, with the advisor's permission, undertake a research project (please see "Thesis or Project or Neither" below). In either case, the number of required graduate credits is 33, including 6 for the thesis (CS 599) or project (CS 598). With the advisor's and department head's consent, the student may instead take 36 credits of regular course work( under special circumstances ). In no case may C S 471, C S 473, or C S 474 be counted towards the number of credits. The student's program must include 24 credits in courses numbered above 550, of which 21 credits must be in computer science courses. Courses numbered between 450 and 500 will typically have equivalencies above 500 to be taken for upper division graduate credit. The student's program must include:

  • CS 510
  • CS 570
  • One of: CS 573, CS 574, CS 584
  • One of: CS 571, CS 575, CS 580, CS 581, CS 582
  • One of: CS 550, CS 571, CS 572, CS 573, CS 574, CS 575, CS 580, CS 581, CS 582, CS 584
  • One additional course numbered 550 or above
  • Six hours of Masters Project (CS 598) or Masters Thesis (CS 599)
  • Nine hours of CS electives (courses numbered 500 and above)
Each course can only meet one of the above requirements.

Courses not in computer science can be included in your Graduate Program of Study but need prior approval of your advisor.

Application for Admission to Candidacy

You must file a special form for this purpose immediately after you have completed 12 credit hours overall GPA of at least 3.0. The form can be obtained from the CS Department office, and summarizes your planned program of studies.

Formation of Committee for Final Examination

In order to satisfy the requirements for forming the Committee for Final Examination, two forms (one for the Department of Computer Science and one for the Graduate School) must be submitted.

At the beginning of the first semester in which project/thesis hours (CS 598/CS 599) are being taken, you must begin the process of forming your final examination committee by submitting the Final Examination Committee form. This form will then be evaluated by the Graduate Committee. Once the form has been evaluated, you and your advisor will be informed as to whether your selection of the committee has been approved or disapproved.

Another form must be submitted for the Graduate School prior to the examination. The Formation of Committee for Final Exam form must be submitted by the department to the Graduate School at least two weeks (ten working days) before the examination.

See the rules in the Graduate Catalog for details on the required composition of the committee. One point worth repeating here is that all members of your committee must be members of the "graduate faculty", a category defined by the Graduate School. The section of this handbook that lists our faculty members and their interests also mentions whether they are in the graduate faculty.

The examination committee is formally proposed by the department and instituted by the Graduate School, but the student will normally be expected to find out which faculty members are prepared to serve on the committee and when they are free.

Final Examination

This is an oral examination. It covers the areas of Computer Science that you have studied and the subject matter of your Thesis or Project if you do one (see below). The examination is conducted by the above-mentioned committee of faculty.

If you do a Thesis or Project, the committee will require you to give an oral presentation of the Thesis or Project work during the examination. The examination typically consists of two parts of equal weight. One part consisting of a presentation of the completed Thesis or Project work and the other part being an overall review of the coursework taken by the student.


The examination may be opened to the public at the discretion of the Department Head or your advisor.


The Graduate Catalog imposes various important deadlines to do with the Thesis and the Final Examination. Observe them, and ask your advisor to arrange for the necessary paperwork to be done in good time. (The deadlines are for submission of various forms, the holding of the final examination, and the delivery of the thesis to the university library.)

A special complication is that the timing details surrounding the Final Examination differ according to whether you do a Thesis, a Project or neither.

Thesis or Project or Neither

Normally you must write a Thesis or undertake a Project. With your advisor's and the Department Head's consent you may obtain a Master's on coursework only. (This option is specified in the Computer Science section of the Graduate Catalog.)

A Thesis is a scholarly study of the state of the art in some area of Computer Science, or a report on a piece of original research work in Computer Science. The scholarly study or research must be performed substantially by the student. The production of a Thesis may involve the development of a substantial piece of software, but need not do so.

A Project is typically a substantial software development project that does not qualify as a scholarly study or a significant piece of research. Non-programming Projects, which are especially appropriate in theoretical areas, can be performed with your advisor's permission.

An important part of a programming Project is a written report, which should include high-level but thorough documentation of the purposes and algorithms of the program, discussion and justification of the significant programming decisions made, theoretical analysis if appropriate, presentation and discussion of the results or performance observed, a technical description of the design and implementation, and a User's Manual (and other documents, such as a Unix manual page, as appropriate).

One difference between Theses and Projects is that there are specific organizational and formatting requirements laid down for Theses by the Graduate School in its booklet entitled "Guidelines for Preparing a Thesis or Dissertation".

If you do a Thesis, you accumulate the required credit hours by registering for CS 599 ("Master's Thesis"). If you do a Project, you accumulate the required credit hours by registering for CS 598 ("Master's Project").

Foreign Language Requirement

The department currently does not impose one.

``Thesis'' versus ``Dissertation''

This University reserves the term ``Thesis'' for master's programs and the term ``Dissertation'' for doctoral programs.

GPA Requirement

A graduate student has to maintain an overall 3.0 grade average in graduate courses in order to be classified as a "Regular Graduate Student". See the Graduate Catalog (p. 12 of the 1997-98 issue) for additional details.