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Master's Degrees | Computer Science

Computer Science

Entrance Exam: GRE
College of Engineering

What makes the Master of Computer Science (MCS) distance education program at NC State unique?

Our nationally recognized faculty consists of approximately 50 tenure-track professors, as well as a number of adjunct professors and visiting lecturers, many of whom possess extensive experience in industry. Included in this elite group of faculty are two Alumni Distinguished Professors, 20 recipients of the National Science Foundation's prestigious CAREER Award (which recognizes the nation's outstanding young faculty), a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a number of Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellows, and several University Outstanding Teachers.

The Master's of Computer Science program is a terminal professional degree program designed primarily to meet the needs of working professionals. The MCS program is available to students residing in the United States, and to military personnel serving abroad. The degree is based on coursework only; no thesis or comprehensive examination is required. MCS students typically take one or two courses a semester.

Courses are streamed. Coursework and results are exchanged electronically, and exams are taken (under properly proctored conditions) at the student's site. Students have the same access and privileges that on-campus students enjoy, and are encouraged to interact fully with their instructors and fellow students. Courses in most cases are recorded versions of on-campus courses, and as such have exactly the same content and requirements as would be experienced by any other graduate student. MCS distance education students may attend on-campus courses as well. Upon graduation, the diploma will indicate a master in computer science without a notation to location.

The Master of Computer Science distance education program is designed for students with an undergraduate degree or sufficient undergraduate coursework in computer science who wish to pursue a graduate degree in computer science. It is a 31-credit hour degree program that does not require a thesis, final oral exam or on-campus residency.


Students should have the following background in order to be considered for admission into the MCS degree program:

  • Undergraduate coursework in a three-semester sequence in differential and integral calculus, a calculus- based course in probability and statistics, and computer science courses equivalent to CSC 116, 216, 226, 236, 316 and either 333 or 456.
  • A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0.
  • Completion of the general Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for all applicants. The distance education MCS degree program is limited to those individuals who work or reside in the United States. The Graduate School requires that all international applicants take the TOEFL examination if they have not received a degree from a U.S. institution.

Plan of Study

  • Completion of 31 credit hours of graduate coursework (ten courses). At least 22 hours must be in courses bearing the CSC prefix and must include CSC 600.
  • Completion of a minimum of three core CSC courses from the theory and systems categories, one from one category and two from the other category.
  • The remaining three courses may consist of any graduate level engineering, computer science, mathematics, or statistics courses offered through Engineering Online or on campus.

All requirements for the degree must be completed within six years of enrolling in the first course appearing on the NC State graduate transcript. Admitted students must comply with the Graduate School regulations for continuous enrollment or must request a leave of absence not to exceed one year.

Career Prospects

The Master’s in Computer Science opens the door to a variety of employment opportunities. Most of our graduates find work designing, coding and implementing software, solving computing problems, innovating ways to use computers, or developing and working with organizational technology infrastructure. They often work in software development, programming or database administration.

Additional Resources

For detailed information regarding engineering online programs and how to apply and enroll, please visit the Engineering Online website.