Coursework Policies and Procedures (M.S. and Ph.D.)

Status -- University and Departmental

Students admitted to the department's Master's program in a conditional (X) status should verify through the Graduate Coordinator that they have met specific criteria for changing to regular (M) status before completing the change of status form found on the Graduate School's web site. Credits earned while in X status count towards degree requirements exactly as those earned in M status. Masters students must have M status in order to graduate.

All PhD students are admitted with a conditional (Y) status. Change of status to Doctoral (D) is accomplished through the Graduate Coordinator, following the completion of the Directed Research Project.

Policies/Regulations on Coursework Completion

Coursework required for M.S.

Though the minimum number of graduate credits required by the Graduate School for a master's degree is 45, the CIS Department requires 54. The maximum number of credit hours transferable, through the Graduate School, from another institution or another classification is 15. A student may also petition (unofficially, within the department) to have specific course requirements waived, based on their previous coursework. All petitions (obtained through the Graduate Coordinator) must be submitted to and approved, in writing, by the Graduate Education Committee.

Core Courses

(12 credits): Algorithms and Complexity (CIS 621), Structure of Programming Languages (CIS 624), Distributed Systems (CIS 630)


(12 credits): a primary course plus two depth courses from a list of approved clusters. This list is updated yearly.


(30 credits):Twelve of the 30 credits may be taken outside the department in an area closely related to the student's professional goals, subject to approval by the graduate education committee by petition; options include courses in linguistics, mathematics, physics, and psychology. Other elective options within the department include:

  1. Up to 8 credits in Reading and Conference (CIS 605), with prior approval by the adviser.
  2. Up to 12 credits in Thesis (CIS 503) or Final Project (CIS 609)
  3. Experimental Courses (CIS 510, 610), which are new courses awaiting permanent status, with prior approval by the graduate education committee.
  4. Regular courses not being applied to the core or cluster requirements.

Complex Software Systems

Students must show competency in the design and implementation of complex software systems by taking one course from the following list: Bioinformatics (CIS 554-w/Prof. Conery's approval), Computer Architecture (CIS 529-w/instructor approval), Database Issues (CIS 552-w/Prof. Wilson's approval), Compilers (CIS 561), Parallel Processing (CIS 631), Computer Networks (CIS 632), Software Engineering (CIS 650). The complex systems course may also fulfill the cluster or electives requirements.

Course work required for Ph.D.

Ph.D. students who enter the program without a Masters degree in computer science are required to take 48 credits in graduate classes.

Ph.D. students are required to take the core and cluster courses specified for the M.S. program:

Core Courses (12 credits): CIS 621, CIS 624, CIS 630

Cluster (12 credits): a required course and two depth courses from a list of approved clusters (see the MS Requirements Checklist); this list is updated each year.

Ph.D. students must earn a minimum of B- and an overall GPA of 3.5 in the six courses they use to satisfy the core and cluster requirements.

Electives: Ph.D. students must take an additional 24 credits of graduate-level courses, 12 of which must be from 600-level courses. Courses numbered 510 which appear on the approved course list may be included in any 500-level credits. For graduate level courses taken in other departments on campus, a petition to the Graduate Education Committee is required.

Minimum Annual Enrollment: Ph.D. students are expected to enroll in at least six credits worth of 600-level courses each year. These six credits can be any 600-level course used to complete the core, cluster, or elective requirements, as described above. Note that Research (CIS 601), Dissertation (CIS 603), and Readings (CIS 605) cannot be used to satisfy this requirement.

Course Load

Nine credit hours is considered a full-time course load for graduate students. Graduate Employees are required to register for and complete a minimum of 9 graduate credits each term to maintain their GE teaching status. The same is true for International students here on an F-1 visa to maintain their immigration status. A fixed tuition rate is assessed for 9-16 graduate credits per term. The bare minimum required to remain "in" the program is 3 graduate credit hours, but this should be discussed with student's adviser and the Graduate Coordinator.

Sample Course Offerings

THEORY   621  
ARCH 630    
PROG LANG     624
THEORY 513, 520    
USER INTERF   541, 543 677
P & D COMP 532 529, 533, 632 545
NETWORKS 532 533, 632 545
LANG & SYS 520, 571   553, 561, 650
SOFT ENG 520, 522 522, 543 523, 561, 650
COMPLEX SOFTWARE SYS   529, 632 561, 650
ELECTIVES 507 Prog Comp, 510 Adv Sys Sec, 513, 520, 522, 532, 571, 607 Seminars, 610 Teach Eff 522, 529, 533, 541, 543, 551, 555, 572, 590, 607 Seminars, 632 523, 545, 553, 561, 607 Seminars, 650, 677

Note: Whether 510 and 610 (experimental) courses count toward elective and/or cluster requirements is subject to approval by the Graduate Education Committee. When in doubt, check with the Graduate Coordinator prior to registration.

Courses Needing Faculty Approval

Individualized Study Courses include Thesis (CIS 503), Research (CIS 601), Internship (CIS 604), Reading (CIS 605) and Final Project (CIS 609). Preauthorization to register for these courses is done by the Graduate Coordinator after receiving the completed Permission to register for Individualized Study form (located in the CIS front office). If you wish to identify a reading or project course and have this title appear on your transcript, contact the Graduate Coordinat before the end of the fifth week of the term. Titles are limited to 16 characters (including spaces) and must include Read or Proj in the title.

Grade Policy/GPA

Each graduate student should be familiar with satisfying both department and Graduate School regulations for maintaining graduate status and graduation requirements. Students who fail to maintain a cumulative 3.00 GPA in two successive terms may be dropped from the M.S. program. Become very familiar with the Graduate School's web site.

Pass/No Pass

Please note that P indicates satisfactory performance, which is defined by the university as a grade of B- or better for graduate students.

CIS Department Incomplete Policy

An "I" is appropriate only in an extraordinary circumstance, such as serious illness or injury, which precludes completion of the course before the end of the term, and then only if the completed coursework is satisfactory (B- or higher). In particular, "I" may not be used to forestall a failing or otherwise undesirable grade. When an incomplete grade is submitted, the instructor will file the departmental form "Report of Incomplete Grade" describing the reason for that mark and the conditions for its removal, including a deadline for completion of coursework. The instructor must also specify the grade that will be assigned if the work is not completed by the stated deadline. If possible, the report should be signed by the student. If the conditions for the removal of the incomplete grade are not fulfilled by the date specified on the form, the department will submit the grade specified by the instructor for this eventuality. If no grade was specified, an "F" will be reported.

University Incomplete Policy

An incomplete may be issued when the quality of work is satisfactory but some minor requirement has not been completed for reasons acceptable to the instructor. To remove an incomplete, graduate students must convert a graduate course incomplete into a passing grade within one calendar year of the assignment of the incomplete. Students may request additional time for the removal of the incomplete by submitting a petition stating the course requirements that were not initially completed, signed by the instructor, to the dean of the Graduate School for approval. This policy does not apply to incompletes assigned to Research (601), Thesis (503), Dissertation (603) or Final Project (609). Thesis and dissertation credits are automatically converted when the thesis is completed and accepted by the Graduate School. Students who are graduating and planning to remove an incomplete must have it completed and recorded with the Registrar within 30 days after graduation. Otherwise it will remain a permanent "I" on the transcript.

Classes required for the PhD degree may be waived if taken at another university, however they don't have to be transferred. The Graduate Education Committee should be petitioned to waive the course, after an advisor agrees that equivalent coursework has been met.

Degree Completion

Master's Thesis

A master's thesis is optional for completing the CIS master's program. If you are planning to write a master's thesis, you should contact the Graduate School for the latest version of the University of Oregon Style and Policy Manual. The Graduate Coordinator has samples of previous master's theses for you to review. A minimum of 9 thesis credits are required, a maximum of 12 is allowed.

Application for Degree

It is the student's responsibility to file an application for degree through the Graduate School by the second week of the term in which they will graduate. Graduation forms, policies and resources are found online. Reminder: Graduate students must register for, and successfully complete, 3 graduate credits in residency for the term in which the degree is received.

Degree Checklists

Two separate handouts are used by the Graduate Coordinator to track graduate progress. One is for use in the tracking of a Master's program, the other is for a Doctoral Program. Though they may prove to be helpful in your own particular planning and execution of a study plan, they in no way take the place of regular consultation with an academic advisor.