Computer Science and Engineering MS

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering offers a Master of Science degree in Computer Science and Engineering MS (CSE MS). This distinctive degree program combines the computer sciences with cutting-edge developments in engineering.

The CSE graduate program provides students with the skills they will need in a rapidly evolving field. Specialized courses allow students to develop their individual technical skills along with a strong emphasis on teamwork, including research projects that involve faculty and students from a variety of disciplines. 

Prospective CSE MS Students

Detailed information about the graduate program in Computer Science and Engineering can be found in the catalog. See below on requirements for admission. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the department's graduate program coordinator, Dr. Christer Karlsson.

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The MS Computer Science and Engineering is part of the Western Regional Graduate Program. This means that any student from the regional alliance (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming) will pay their in-state rate while attending South Dakota Mines if accepted into the WRGP.

Application Process and General Background

The application process is outlined on the Graduate School website. Applications to the CSE MS program are considered throughout the year, but a student interested in funding for the subsequent fall semester should apply before March 15. The Computer Science and Engineering MS degree is an interdisciplinary program that is project based and students can come from a variety of undergraduate programs. Entering students will normally have a Bachelor of Science degree in either Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering or some other technical program. 

After a student has applied and been accepted into the program then he/she will be assigned an advisor. The advisor and the student are the primary agents in constructing a program of study, a student pursuing a thesis option will also need the program approved by their graduate committee. The program of study is customized for each student and it is possible that some students will require taking leveling courses to meet their academic goals. In other cases, students will have deficits in their background that will need to be taken before they can pursue their program of study. It is possible for a student with deficits to be admitted on a probationary status while they make up missing courses. Students with significant deficits can apply to the graduate school as a special non-degree seeking student and apply to the CSE MS program after they have successfully taken the courses necessary to address their deficiencies in background.

Programming background

  • Introductory programming course (C/C++ preferred)
  • A course in Data Structures

Mathematics Background

  • Year of Calculus (Calculus I & II)
  • One semester of Multivariate Calculus (Calculus III)
  • One semester of probability and statistics
  • One semester of Linear Algebra is strongly suggested but not required.

Science Background

  • Two semesters of calculus-based physics is strongly suggested but not required.


  • TOEFL - For international students, a minimum score of 520 on the TOEFL is required (560 for admission without additional English tutoring). Note that these numbers are for the paper exam, not the web-based exam.
  • GRE - recommended but not required. Note that the graduate school application implies that the GRE is required, but this is not the case.

Academic Qualifications

One of the major considerations that the admissions committee for CSE does consider is academic performance as an undergraduate student. A cumulative GPA at or above 3.0 does grant a very favorable consideration provided candidates have sufficient technical background. A student can be admitted on a probationary status if they have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.8. A student that is not initially accepted into the program can apply to the Graduate School as a special non-degree seeking student. A non-degree seeking student can reapply to the CSE MS program if they have demonstrated sufficient competency in the courses they take at the School of Mines.

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CSE MS Courses and Electives

The CSE MS master's degree curriculum is designed to give the student a core experience in computing plus some specialization in a particular area. There are two options available to the student, the Thesis Option and the Non-Thesis Option. Courses and electives are selected with consultation of the student's advisor and normally are directed towards career goals. Students will form a graduate committee and select a major advisor.

For the thesis option, the major advisor with input from the graduate committee will guide the student's research and course selection. This will culminate in the Master's Thesis. 

For the non-thesis option, the program coordinator will help select courses to achieve the student's educational goals.

Additional Notes

  • The list of courses taken by a student is known as the plan of study. This must be filed in the Graduate School office in the first year. The student's major advisor must sign off on the plan of study.
  • Thesis students have to present and defend their proposal for thesis work. This must be signed off by the student's major advisor.
  • Changes to the plan of study that involve existing electives require advisor approval.
  • Changes to the plan of study that involve non-elective courses must have CSE MS faculty approval.

The Accelerated Option for CSE MS

The Computer Science and Engineering MS (CSE MS) program and the Computer Science program have partnered to provide a five-year degree program resulting in a BS in Computer Science and an MS in CSE. The student will begin by completing the requirements for the undergraduate degree in Computer Science.

  • These courses should be taken at the graduate level and should be courses that are part of the approved list of CSE MS electives
  • Any courses required for the BS degree are not allowed to count towards the accelerated M.S.
  • All courses counted by both the BS and MS should be taken on the campus of South Dakota Mines

The CS undergraduate degree has some free credits (depending on catalog year). Students following this program will obtain a BS in computer science after the fourth year. Admission into the CSE MS program will be done in the late Junior or Senior year. Thesis research work may begin during the summer following the Senior year and a research relationship with a faculty member should be established in the senior year. The student needs to be thesis ready at the end of the fourth year.


  • First - Fourth year: follow the traditional Computer Science Curriculum
  • Summer prior to Fifth year: 3 thesis credits
  • Fifth year Fall: 12 credits
  • Fifth year Spring: 9 credits coursework, 3 credits thesis research
  • Summer following Fifth year: 3 thesis credits

Interested students should contact Dr. Karlsson or Dr. McGough as soon as possible.

Department Head
Contact Information

Dr. Jeffrey S McGough
Phone: (605) 394-2722
Office: McLaury 206