MSc programs

MSc breadth requirements

In order to define the breadth requirements, three major categories are identified within Computer Science: Systems, Theory and Applications. Each category is subdivided into areas that represent a range of the fields of computer science, as given in the table below:

Systems Theory Applications
Software engineering Design and analysis of Algorithms Databases
Programming languages Scientific computing Artificial intelligence
Hardware and software systems Complexity theory Bioinformatics
Networks and distributed systems Logic and discrete mathematics Graphics and user interfaces

Areas not listed above may be acceptable if documented and approved by the supervisory committee. It is up to the student to justify which category the course should be classified in and its value to the academic program. For example, the area of “Databases” might fit within the “Applications” category, or it may be considered as an area in either the “Theory” or “Systems” category, depending on the academic content being evaluated.

The supervisory committee is responsible for checking that the breadth requirement is satisfied correctly according to the expectations and to any variations. Explicit notes must be included about the breadth requirement at every progress report.

Breadth Requirements Template

MSc course registration

The executive summary: you are expected to have continuous registration. The exception is if you are requesting a leave of absence or withdrawal with permission.

To be in full time status, you must be registered for at least 3.0 units each term. IF you happen to be taking only one course in a particular term, then you should also register in the thesis or project (CSC 599 or 598) in order to maintain your full time status.

To learn how to register in coursework, visit: 

Student Registration Tutorial

Not all courses are available for online registration! A MSc student may opt to enroll in 4xx level CSC courses or in a course outside of the department as part of the program (e.g. a MATH course or even a SENG course is seen as "not CSC"). For this type of registration, you cannot register online and *must* instead complete the Graduate Course Change form. The steps are as follows:

  • Download the Graduate Course Change form from the Graduate Studies website
  • Complete your part of the form.
  • Have the form signed by the course instructor (email approval can be attached to the form).
  • Have the form signed by your supervisor who must include a brief comment as to why this course will be beneficial for your graduate degree.
  • The form will then be submitted to Graduate Admissions & Records for manual input.

To audit a course as a continuing graduate student:  add the audit course by completing a Graduate Course Change form available from the Graduate Studies website.

MSc examining committee

For the MSc Thesis Option,  the final oral examining is composed of the supervisory committee and one other external examiner who has had no previous involvement with graduate supervision  of the candidate. Such an examiner is recommended to graduate studies in consultation between the student and the supervisor. The final oral examining committee must include at least one person from outside the Department of Computer Science. Thus if the supervisory committee already includes a member from outside the Department of Computer Science, the examiner can be a member of the department. A chair of the oral examination committee is appointed by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

For the MSc Project Option, the final oral examining committee is composed of the supervisory committee plus a chair who is normally a member of the Department of Computer Science.

MSc annual progress report

The purpose of the annual progress report is to support your successful progress through the MSc program. The annual progress report is a constructive tool that reviews your accomplishments over a 12-month period to help you move forward in your program successfully. Your achievements are acknowledged, possible impediments are examined, and actions to overcome any impediments are determined and agreed upon. The annual progress report must be compiled and submitted at least once in every 12 month period of a graduate program. The expected submission date is August 1 of each year. Failure to submit a progress report may result in you being unable to register the following term and reported by your graduate advisor to the chair of the department.  

Your supervisor is responsible for providing regular reports to evaluate progress in the graduate program. The annual progress report is a requirement of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and cannot be waived by any department. However, its administration is determined by individual departments.  Please refer to our Graduate resources page for the annual progress report form for directions on how to submit your report.

Thesis and oral examination

The Faculty of Graduate Studies states the following guidelines regarding an acceptable thesis for a successful MSc program:

  • The thesis must demonstrate that a student understands and is capable to employ research methods and has command of the subject.
  • If the work is based on data, the data may be new data or provided by others.
  • The thesis should show evidence of perspective on the topic and show that appropriate methodology has been understood and applied.
  • The thesis should include a general overview of relevant literature and show that the student is capable of writing a well-organized professional technical document.
  • The thesis must provide evidence of some new contribution to the field of existing knowledge or a new perspective on existing knowledge.

The student will give an oral examination of the thesis in accordance with the departmental and university regulations.  Upon successful completion of the oral examination and all other departmental and university requirements, the student will be awarded the degree of Master of Science.

Finishing your degree? See degree completion of tasks to complete leading up to your oral exam.

Thesis option program length

The normal expectation is to complete the program in five terms (20 months). Students enrolled in a co-operative education program will have additional months added to the normal completion times equal to the time spent on co-op work terms. In all cases, the department expects students to complete their Master's degree within the maximum time limits set by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The minimum regular program fee for a master's degree is five tuition installments which can consist of a combination of regular full and regular half tuition installments. One additional regular tuition installment will be assessed if a student remains registered after having paid five regular full tuition installments (for a total regular tuition of six).

Project and oral examination

The Faculty of Graduate Studies does not have at the present precise guidelines regarding an acceptable project for a successful MSc program. It is understood however that a project is smaller than a thesis both in scope and implementation. The following points remain in common with the expectations for a thesis, albeit on a smaller scale:

  • The project must demonstrate that a student understands and is capable to employ research methods and has command of the subject.
  • If the work is based on data, the data may be new data or provided by others.
  • The project should show evidence of perspective on the topic and show that appropriate methodology has been understood and applied.
  • The project report should show that the student is capable of writing a professional technical document.

Finishing your degree? See degree completion of tasks to complete leading up to your oral exam.

Project option program length

The normal expectation is to complete the program in five terms (20 months). Students enrolled in a co-operative education program will have additional months added to the normal completion times equal to the time spent on co-op work terms. In all cases, the department expects students to complete their Master's degree within the maximum time limits set by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The minimum regular program fee for a master's degree is five tuition installments which can consist of a combination of regular full and regular half tuition installments. One additional regular tuition installment will be assessed if a student remains registered after having paid five regular full tuition installments (for a total regular tuition of six).

Industrial project and non-thesis oral examination

A student who chooses the industrial option will also have a non-thesis oral examination. The amount of work required to complete the project should be equivalent to one, 1.5 unit course.

Finishing your degree?  See degree completion of tasks to complete leading up to your oral exam.

Industrial option program length

The normal expectation is to complete the program typically in four to five terms by completing two or three CSC graduate courses per term. Students may also enroll in additional co-operative education work terms and thus have the opportunity to gain work experience. Students enrolled in co-op will have additional terms added to their degree equal to the time spent on the co-op work terms. The minimum regular program fee for a master's degree is five tuition installments which can consist of a combination of regular full and regular half tuition installments. One additional regular tuition installment will be assessed if a student remains registered after having paid five regular full tuition installments (for a total regular tuition of six).