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The Master of Computer Science (MCS) is a professionally oriented degree program that consists of 11 courses (44 units) to be completed in four or five quarters. Coursework includes 5 core courses, including 2 capstones, 6 elective courses and a one-quarter optional summer internship component. Nearly all courses have a lab component that will allow for a more supervised hands-on learning environment with a stronger emphases on practical applications and implementation.

Advising and Career Development

Students in this program will receive extensive academic and career planning support from start of the program and will also receive extensive faculty advising throughout. This program is intended to prepare students for careers in technology industries, business, and government.

Capstone Courses

There are two required capstone courses that will be taught concurrently. These will be offered in summer and fall of each year. The first capstone is the Design Project for Computer Science (COMPSCI 297P). The design project will involve taking a new idea from conception to prototype development and validation.   Projects will draw on skills learned in several of the courses in the curriculum and will be initiated by computer science faculty or by our corporate affiliates. The second capstone is Professional Writing and Communication course for Computer Science (COMPSCI 296P). This course will involve the development of the project design and will also include assignments related to other aspects of the student’s professional career.


Student with prior work experience will be allowed to forgo the summer internship component and complete the capstone classes in summer.


The Professional Graduate Degree Program (SSGPDP) fee for MCS students is $43,000*. UC Irvine bills fees each quarter. Fees do not include other living expenses or student health insurance. Please note that the MCS is a professional degree program; thus, certain fee waivers traditionally accepted by the University of California may not be accepted. For example, we do not accept Calvet Waivers, nor is there a discount for “in-state” students. However, all domestic students will be eligible for financial aid.

*Fees are subject to change, both before students enroll and during a student’s enrollment.

This is a Plan II program, with an exam consisting of a written and oral presentation of a Capstone Project.

44 units are required; all courses are 4 units.

The initial program of study is the following:

Required Courses

  1. COMPSCI 222P: Principles of Applied Data Management
  2. COMPSCI 250P: Computer Systems Architecture -or- COMPSCI 238P: Operating Systems
  3. COMPSCI 260P: Fundamentals of Algorithms with Applications
  4. COMPSCI 296P: Capstone Professional Writing and Communication for Computer Science Careers
  5. COMPSCI 297P: Capstone Design Project for Computer Science

Elective Courses
Students will select six of the classes listed below.

*Note that Elective courses are not offered every quarter/year.

  • COMPSCI 202P: Applied Cryptography
  • COMPSCI 203P: Network and Distributed Systems Security
  • COMPSCI 206P: Principles of Scientific Computing
  • COMPSCI 210P: Computer Graphics and Visualization
  • COMPSCI 211P: Visual Computing
  • COMPSCI 230P: Distributed Computer Systems
  • COMPSCI 232P: Computer and Communications Networks
  • COMPSCI 244P: Introduction to IoT
  • COMPSCI 261P: Data Structures with Applications
  • COMPSCI 268P: Introduction to Optimization
  • COMPSCI 271P: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • COMPSCI 273P: Machine Learning and Data Mining


Capstone: The two capstone classes (COMP SCI 296P and 297P) will be taught concurrently. These will be offered in Summer and Fall each year.

Description of the Capstone Element:

  • The design project will involve taking a new idea from conception to prototype development and validation.
  • Projects will draw on skills learned in several of the courses in the curriculum and will be initiated by computer science faculty or by our corporate affiliates.
  • Students will form teams of two-four students and their work will be supervised by both the instructor of the course and a faculty project mentor who will be involved in all aspects of the project.
  • The scope of the projects will include physical prototype development, appropriate testing and detailed documentation. Ideally projects will represent a complete system or product, integrating analysis, simulation, and software and hardware design as appropriate.
  • The professional writing and communication for computer science careers course will involve the development of design and detailed project description documents for the design project. It will also include assignments related to other aspects of their professional careers.

[expand title=”Course Descriptions” tag=”H3″]
COMPSCI 202P. Applied Cryptography. 4 Units.
Design and analysis of algorithms for applied cryptography. Topics include symmetric and asymmetric key encryption, digital signatures, one-way hash functions, digital certificates and credentials, and techniques for authorization, non-repudiation, authentication, identification, data integrity, proofs of knowledge, and access control.

COMPSCI 203P. Network and Distributed System Security. 4 Units.
Modern computer and networks security: attacks and countermeasures, authentication, identification, data secrecy, data integrity, authorization, access control, computer viruses, network security. Group communication and multicast security techniques. Covers secure e-commerce and applications of public key methods, digital certificates, and credentials.

COMPSCI 206P. Principles of Scientific Computing. 4 Units.
Overview of widely used principles and methods of numerical and scientific computing, including basic concepts and computational methods in linear algebra, optimization, and probability.

COMPSCI 210P. Computer Graphics and Visualization. 4 Units.
Interactive 3 0 graphics rendering pipeline, illumination and shading, ray tracing, texture-, bump-, mip­ mapping, hidden surface removal, anti-aliasing, multiresolution representations, volume rendering techniques, iso-surface extraction. Pre-Requisite. Linear Algebra.

COMPSCI 211P. Visual Computing. 4 Units.
Fundamentals of image processing (convolution, linear filters, spectral analysis), vision geometry (projective geometry, camera models and calibration, stereo reconstruction), radiometry (color, shading, illumination, BRDF), and visual content synthesis (graphics pipeline, texture- bump-, mip­ mapping, hidden surface removal, anti-aliasing). Pre-Requisite. Linear Algebra.

COMPSCI 222P. Principles of Data Management . 4 Units.
Covers fundamental principles underlying data management systems. Understanding and implementation of key techniques including storage management, buffer management, record-oriented file system, access methods, query optimization, and query processing.

COMPSCI 230P. Distributed Computer Systems. 4 Units.
Principles of distributed computing systems. Topics covered include message-passing, remote procedure calls, distributed shared memory synchronization, resource and process/thread management, distributed file systems, naming and security.

COMPSCI 232P. Computer and Communication Networks. 4 Units.
Network architecture of the Internet, telephone networks, cable networks, and cell phone networks. Network performance models. Network performance models. Advanced concepts and implementations of flow and congestion control, addressing, internetworking, forwarding, routing, multiple access, streaming, and quality-of-service.

COMPSCI 238P. Operating Systems. 4 Units.
In-depth organization of the core operating system abstraction and its implementation (virtual memory, kernel and user mode, system calls, threads, context switches, interrupts, inter-process communication, hardware interface, etc.) and a range of recent developments in de-facto industry standard operating systems.

COMPSCI 244P. Introduction to the IoT. 4 Units.
This course develops a comprehensive understanding of the hardware and software technologies, the communication protocols, and the security and privacy requirements underlying the Internet of Things ecosystem, particularly those using computing elements (processors, DSPs, or ASIPs), sensors and accessing cloud services.

COMPSCI 250P. Computer Systems Architecture. 4 Units.
Study of architectural issues and their relation to technology and software: design of processor, interconnections, and memory hierarchies.

COMPSCI 260P. Fundamentals of Algorithms with Applications. 4 Units.
Covers fundamental concepts in the design and analysis of algorithms and is geared toward practical application and implementation. Topics include: greedy algorithms, deterministic and randomized graph algorithms, models of network flow, fundamental algorithmic techniques and NP-completeness.

COMPSCI 261P. Data Structures. 4 Units.
Data structures and their associated management algorithms including their applications and analysis. Pre-Requisite: COMPSCI 260P: Fundamentals of Algorithms with Applications

COMPSCI 268P. Introduction to Optimization Modeling. 4 Units.
A broad introduction to optimization modeling. Unconstrained and constrained optimization. Equality and inequality constraints. Linear and integer programming. Practical implementation of combinatorial optimization.

COMPSCI 271P. Introduction to Artificial Intelligence. 4 Units.
The study of theories and computational models for systems which behave and act in an intelligent manner. Fundamental sub-disciplines of artificial intelligence including knowledge representation, search, deduction, planning, probabilistic reasoning, natural language parsing and comprehension, knowledge-based systems, and learning.

COMPSCI 273P. Machine Learning and Data Mining. 4 Units.
Computational approaches to learning algorithms for classifications, regression, and clustering. Emphasis is on discriminative classification methods such as decision trees, rules, nearest neighbor, linear models, and naive Bayes. Application of these techniques to data mining and knowledge discovery – particularly with respect to web and text data analysis.

COMPSCI 296P. Capstone Professional Writing and Communication for Computer Science Careers. 4 Units.
Written and oral communication for computer science and IT careers. Production of the detailed design and development document for the concurrent capstone design class and refinement of written documents and oral communications skills needed for a successful job search. Pre-Requisite: 24 units completed in MCS program. Co-requisite: COMPSCI 297P. Capstone Design Project for Computer Science

COMPSCI 297P. Capstone Design Project for Computer Science. 4 Units
Design and development of app, a software system or a hardware component of system based on your prior knowledge of advanced computer science principles. Implement at least a working prototype and test this using relevant use cases and or input data. Pre-Requisite: 24 units completed in MCS program.
Co-requisite: COMPSCI 296P. Capstone Professional Writing and Communication for Computer Science Careers.
[expand title=”Admissions Requirements” tag=”H3″]
Applicants must provide the following:

  1. Official transcripts from each college or university attended.
    1. An official English translation is required from international students.
    2. Photocopies, scans, or unofficial copies of transcripts will not be accepted.
    3. Transcripts should be sent to the following address:

ICS Graduate Office – Master of Computer Science
Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences
352 Information & Computer Science Bldg.
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-3430

  1. Three letters of recommendation from three people who can evaluate your academic and professional achievement, describe your strengths and weaknesses, and comment on your character, integrity and motivation.
    1. Letters which speak to your ability to perform in a post graduate academic program are especially useful.
    2. These letters should be from professors, supervisors, or others (no family) who can attest to your work ethic, analytical thinking, communication skills, leadership potential, motivation, and commitment.
  2. Personal statement demonstrating your writing ability and clarity of thought which includes:
    1. A personal history describing your previous professional and academic achievements
    2. Formal statement of purpose, detailing current goals, and specifically how and why the MCS program will help you achieve them. Please note: International Students, please include a Personal History as part of your Statement of Purpose electronically since it is not a separate required category.
  3. GRE is required of ALL applicants.
    1. Arrange to have your official test scores sent from the testing agency to UC Irvine. The institution code is 4859.
    2. Photocopies or scans will not be accepted.
    3. GRE scores are valid for five years, after which time the exam must be retaken.
  4. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is required of all international students
    1. The minimum TOEFL score is 80. For more information, please see Graduate Division’s English Proficiency site.
    2. You can be waived from the TOEFL requirement if you earn a four-year Bachelor’s degree or a two-year Master’s degree from a US institution with no transfer credit. Waivers are granted by the department after receipt of your transcripts and you must have a completed application. For information on TOEFL waivers, please see the FAQ on this page.
    3. As an alternative to the TOEFL, you may submit official scores from the Academic Modules of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
      1. You must submit a Test Report Form (TRF) to:
        Graduate Division, Admissions, 20 Aldrich Hall, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-3180.
    4. An overall minimum score of 7 for admission, with a score of no less than 6 on any individual module[/expand]
      [expand title=”Application Process” tag=”H3″]
      Please follow the instructions below to start your application process.


Step 1:

Fill out the online application. (Check back for the major code in ICS).

Applications are accepted from Sept. 1 – December 15 each year. Please note, the Personal History and Statement of Purpose writing sections are part of the online application- please do not send us separate writing samples. Save your application ID and student ID numbers; they will be asked of you when filling out other documents.

Step 2:

Once you have finalized your application in full, press the submit button which then prompts you to pay the $105 domestic application fee ($125 foreign application) using Visa or MasterCard. You can also pay by check or money order, payable to “UC Regents,” and mailed to:

UC Irvine
Graduate Division
Attn: E* Application Fee Processing
120 Aldrich Hall
Irvine, CA 92697-3180

After submitting the application fee, your application will be submitted and you should receive e-mail confirmation. Note: application fee cannot be waived. If you have questions regarding your electronic application or your payment, contact UCI Graduate Division at (949) 824-4611 or

Step 3:
Provide Letter of Recommendation and Waiver of Access forms to the three people you have identified who can evaluate your academic and/ or professional achievement, describe your strengths and weaknesses, and comment on your character, integrity and motivation. Letters that speak to your ability to perform in a post graduate academic program are especially useful.

These can be submitted online or mailed directly from your recommenders to:

ICS Graduate Office – Master of Computer Science
Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences
352 Information & Computer Science
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-3430

More information about the Letter of Recommendation process can be found here.

Step 4:
Arrange to have an official copy of your transcripts from each school you attended sent directly to the ICS office address listed above. Transcripts must be sealed in an official envelope from institution.

We require transcripts from ALL institutions attended, not just where you completed your undergraduate degree.

Step 5:
Applicants may login to the online GATS TRACKER to check for application materials received and their current application status.
Admissions decisions are ongoing from approximately March through May. Acceptance and denial letters will be sent electronically.
We cannot provide you with the final decision over the phone/email.

NOTE: All supplemental materials must arrive before or on the application deadline in order for application to be deemed complete and reviewed.
[expand title=”FAQ” tag=”H3″]

Admissions FAQ:

Do you accept students that have degrees outside of Computer Science?
Typical undergraduate preparation for this program will include degrees in computer science, computer engineering or electrical engineering. Applicants from other sciences, engineering or business will be considered if they demonstrate sufficient computer science preparation.

What prerequisite courses or skills are required for the program?                          

Students should have the following:

  1. A year of programming instruction or equivalent or better professional experience. Python, C++ or Java are preferred.
  2. Be familiar with discrete mathematics topics covered in our ICS 6B and 6D classes and  should be familiar with linear algebra at the level of UCI’s Math 3A or ICS 6N.
  3. Completed an introductory statistics class.

** Admitted students in the first year of the program should make every effort to take community college classes in the summer to fill holes in their knowledge or to take Coursera or EdX classes. There is an excellent on-line book on Discrete Mathematics offered by Zybooks.  The code for an independent student is dmSIALR25SO.  Students can try out the first chapter without purchasing the book to see if it will meet their needs.

When can I submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?
Domestic students are eligible to submit a FAFSA, online, starting October 1st thru March 2nd.

What is the application deadline?
December 15th

Do you accept admissions on a rolling basis?
No, students are admitted once a year – for the following FALL quarter

Is the GRE General Exam required?
Yes, the general GRE exam is required of all applicants. GRE scores are good for five years, after which time the exam must be repeated.
Only the General exam is required; we do not require the subject GRE exam, although it is recommended for applicants without a background in Computer Science or a related area.

What is required for admission to the program?
Please review our admissions requirements on this page for more information

Can I send photocopies of my transcripts, GRE score or TOEFL scores?
Only official transcripts are acceptable in order to complete your application. Use institutional code 4859 to have official GRE and TOEFL scores sent from the testing agency to UCI.

Is there a thesis or dissertation required?
No thesis or dissertation is required. There is a comp exam.

Am I eligible for the TOEFL waiver?
For information on TOEFL waivers, please see here.

Can I submit more than 3 letter of recommendations?
Three letters of recommendation are required, but you may submit as many letters.

Is there a minimum score for the GRE?
No, there is no minimum score.

Do you accept GMAT in lieu of the GRE?

Program FAQ:

What is the normative time to degree?
This is a four quarter academic program with a one quarter optional internship component. Full time students with prior work experience preferring to finish in one calendar year will be allowed to forego the summer internship component and complete the capstone classes in summer

Am I allowed to go part-time?
The program is primarily aimed at full-time students, though working professionals or students with other outside obligations may be allowed to study part time. The maximum time to degree is three years for part time students. International students – please refer to international center website for information on part-time eligibility. However, in the first two years of the program, part time study is not recommended because of the limited availability of electives.

Can I apply for the Reader (Grader)/TA/RA positions?
No, students in professional programs are not eligible for employment on campus.

Is the internship mandatory?
No. However, it is strongly recommended. Students with significant prior work experience or internship experience may forgo the internship.

How do we opt out of the summer internship?
The program director will review applications for opting out.

What is the cost of the program?
The current cost of the program is $43,000 (regardless of residency).

Do you offer fellowships for students?
Partial Fellowships, of no more than 50% of program fees, are currently available to Domestic students only, with demonstrated need. Please fill out a FAFSA form online to view eligibility.

Is SHIP (student health insurance plan) included in my fees?
SHIP (Student health insurance program) is not included, but can be purchased for an additional fee. Please contact Student Health Services for fee information. Please view: Students may also look at other alternatives, such as Covered California exchange ( Student Insurance Advocates (contact information below) can assist students in completing the enrollment process.

Student Insurance Advocates
The Student Insurance Advocate Program is a service available at no charge to all UC Irvine Students. When you have questions about your health insurance, whether about the UC Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP) or other health insurance that you may have, we have a resource to provide you with the answers! We’re partnering with Barney & Barney, an insurance firm, to offer this concierge resource.
Access: By phone: (855) 251-9086 or Email:
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM PST

Is health insurance required?
While health insurance is not required for MCS students, students have the option of purchasing health insurance (Wells Fargo) or through UCI SHIP. See site for more information. Students may also purchase other health insurance on their own.

What services can I access as an international student, through the International Center?
MCS international students do not have access to register for or “audit” ECP and ISTEPS. However, they can participate in other programs that do not require an actual course enrollment, including: International Coffee Hour, English Development Workshop Series, etc

Is this program online?
No, this program is not online.

Are classes offered in the evenings?
Most courses will be offered in the evenings.

Are the faculty in the MCS program the same as the MSCS program?
All of our faculty in MCS are full-time UCI Computer Science faculty.

Can I take courses outside of the MCS program while I am a student?
No, students can only take the designated courses offered through the program. These include any graduate course that ends with a ‘P’. (Ex: Students may enroll in Comp Sci 250P, but students may not enroll in Comp Sci 250)

Is this a STEM approved program?
All ICS programs (unless otherwise noted) benefit from a STEM classification

Can students attend the UCI career fairs?
Yes, MCS students can take advantage of UCI career fairs, and the program has a dedicated technology career counselor, so students in this program will have extra assistance for finding the best employment opportunities and careers.

Can students in the program request Filing Fee status their last quarter?
This is a lock step professional program, where students pay one program fee and graduate in either summer or fall quarter. Therefore, filing fee is not offered for professional programs.

What if I cannot secure an internship in Summer?  May I still graduate in Fall?
Yes. While we believe that most students will secure a summer internship, if for some unforeseen reason you do not, you are welcome to pursue an internship somewhere else or to stay at UCI and prepare for your job search in Fall (by improving your English language skills or taking self-paced on-line courses or by doing careful research on job opportunities).

Will the dedicated career counselor for the program provide extra help beyond the typical job fairs? 
Yes.  The MCS program is the only graduate or undergraduate program in ICS or Engineering that has a dedicated career counselor.  That counselor will offer weekly job search coaching sessions and will be available throughout the program for one-on-one career and job search counseling sessions.

What about if my undergraduate degree is in Engineering or Business?  Will I still be able to find a technology related internship? 
Yes.  We will encourage students with Engineering or Business (or science) backgrounds to include domain specific companies in their searches in order to increase their chances of success.  However, we believe that those students will be able to secure positions in pure technology firms once the program is over and that many will do so in Summer.




Contact Us:


Student Affairs Office: (949) 824-5156

Program Director: Professor Amelia Regan
Graduate Counselor: Andrea O’Donnell