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Degree Guidelines

Logistics for getting a Masters in Computer Science

Getting Started

  • You will be assigned an initial advisor. Consult that advisor. Take a variety of graduate courses. Talk to faculty about their research interests. Find out what interests you.
  • Project versus Thesis. A project is typically smaller in scope, from three to six credits. A thesis is larger in scope, from six to nine credits. Both require a full report to be written. See the graduate catalog for further discussion on what is a project versus what is a thesis.
  • You can take up to three credits of independent study. You can also take up to three credits of Practicum (industrial internship). These must be approved by your adviser, committee and the graduate program coordinator. See next section on how to create a committee.

The Process

  1. Find a faculty and a topic to work on for your project or thesis. Once a faculty agrees to be your supervisor, they become the chair of your supervisory committee for your thesis or project.
  2. Form a committee with at least three members. The norm is three members and the maximum is four members. Typically the members are Computer Science faculty. However, there can be one committee member that is from outside the Computer Science department. They could be from another academic department on campus or another University. They can also be from industry. Fill out the Appointment of Supervisory Committee form (available from the Graduate College website: and submit to Graduate College.
  3. Write a project or thesis proposal working closely with the chair of your supervisory committee. Present this proposal to your committee. This must be done at least one semester before the semester you intend to graduate. Detailed instructions for the proposal can be found on the web at:
  4. After the proposal is approved, you need to apply for Admission to Candidacy to the Graduate College. This must be done at least one semester before the semester you intend to graduate. The deadline is stated in the Academic Calendar for the semester you intend to graduate, not in the Academic Calendar for the semester during which you submit this form. This also means that you must complete your thesis/project proposal before this deadline. Academic calendars can be found at The Application for Admission to Candidacy form can be found on the website for Graduate College ( You must have completed at least 15 credits before applying for candidacy. Part of the candidacy form is to plan out the rest of the your program of study. It then becomes a “contract” for you to follow. Any changes need to be done via a graduate Academic Adjustment form (
  5. Write your project report or thesis and present it to your supervisory committee (refer to the Finish Line below for details and pay attention to deadlines). It must be written using a template provided by the Graduate College at If you use the Microsoft Word template on a Mac, we recommend ensuring you have the most recent version of Office, which is available to students for free. Instructions and samples can be found at

Finish Line: What to do during the semester you graduate?

  1. Check with the chair of your supervisory committee if you are ready to graduate!
  2. Check the Academic Calendar to find out the last date for thesis defense in your graduating semester (usually by the end of the 9th week). Projects can be defended until the finals week but we strongly recommend an earlier date to have time to complete changes asked for by your committee.
  3. Contact your committee and set a date for your defense. You will need to schedule about one and half hours of time.
  4. Apply for graduation via My.BoiseState.
  5. Fill out the planning form for the office staff on this page: Then contact the department office ( to schedule a room.
  6. Give a printed copy of your project report/thesis to your committee at least two weeks before the defense date. Some professors may want even more lead time. Check with your committee well in advance!
  7. Write a brief announcement for your defense and get it approved by the chair of your supervisory committee.
  8. Email the department office with a title, name and the approved brief announcement of your talk and ask the office manager to send email and make/post fliers for your defense.
  9. If you are defending a thesis: on the day of the defense, bring one copy of the Defense Committee Approval page. This form is available from the Graduate College website.
  10. After the defense, incorporate any changes suggested by the committee. If you are doing a thesis, then have your committee chair approve the final version by signing the Defense Committee Approval page.
  11. If you are doing a thesis, bring physical copies of the Defense Committee Approval page and Final Reading Approval page, as well as the Access Agreement for a Thesis or Dissertation form to the Graduate College office as soon as possible before submitting the document electronically via ScholarWorks. Then submit a review copy electronically through ScholarWorks. See the website for more details.
  12. Project reports are not reviewed or approved by the Graduate College. However, project reports can be uploaded into ScholarWorks, pending approval of your committee chair, and require the signed ScholarWorks Authorization for a Selected Graduate Project (