CIS/MSE Degree Requirements

Course Requirements

The MSE degree requires completion of ten course units that satisfies all of the following requirements:

  • Seven CIS courses – At least seven of the ten course units required for the degree must be CIS courses. These seven courses include four core courses and three CIS elective courses described below.
    • Four Core courses – Four from the following list:
      • Theory courses:
        • CIS 5020 Analysis of Algorithms
        • CIS 5110 Theory of Computation
      • Systems courses:
        • CIS 5050 Software Systems
        • CIS 5480 Operating Systems Design and Implementation
        • CIS 5530 Networked Systems
        • CIS 5550 Internet & Web Systems
      • Machine-learning courses:
        • CIS 5200 Machine Learning
        • CIS 5190 Introduction to Machine Learning
        • CIS 5210 Artificial Intelligence
      • Other courses:
        • CIS 5000 Software Foundations
        • CIS 5710 Computer Organization and Design
      • The four core courses must include 1) at least one systems course, or CIS 5710; 2) at least one theory course; and 3) at most one machine-learning course. (the other machine-learning courses can still be taken as electives.)
    • Three CIS elective courses
      • Any CIS courses numbered from CIS 5000 to CIS 7000
      • At most one CIS 7000 class can be included
  • Three CIS or non-CIS elective courses

Advanced study in a specific area of computer science is encouraged. Besides coursework, students may pursue Independent Studies to increase their depth of knowledge in a specific area – a maximum of two independent study credits can be used as electives for the CIS/MSE degree. Students are also encouraged to submit a master’s thesis (see below) which may count as two course units of Masters Student Thesis Research, CIS 5970.

FORMS: Click here to access Penn Engineering graduate forms, including the Graduate Petition for Action; click here to access CIS graduate forms.

Master’s Thesis

A student wishing to complete a master’s thesis may enroll in two course units of CIS 5970/Masters Thesis Research, which count as electives towards the ten credits needed for the CIS/MSE degree.The student first chooses a thesis advisor, who must belong to the CIS Graduate Group, proposing a suitable thesis topic. The thesis advisor and student discuss and determine the topic, scope, etc. of the thesis. The advisor and student also determine one other faculty member to be a reader for the thesis. Once the advisor, reader, and topic have been chosen, the student should email Redian Furxhiu who will provide a Google doc master’s thesis approval form which can be shared with the thesis advisor, reader, and CIS/MSE , for approval. The advisor and reader will evaluate the thesis and make the determination of its suitability as a research document. An oral presentation of the thesis is required. This can take the form of a public presentation open to all CIS faculty and students to attend, or in lieu of that, a conference presentation or poster presentation (decided by the thesis adviser). Once the final thesis document is approved, it is signed by the advisor, reader, and CIS/MSE Program Chair, Dr. Swapneel Sheth. Information re: thesis formatting and submission of the thesis to the Penn Engineering Research and Academic Services Office can be accessed here.  A copy of the approved version of the thesis should be emailed to the CIS Master’s chair.

Cumulative GPA Requirement

A minimum GPA of 2.7 for master’s students must be maintained in order to be considered in good academic standing. If this minimum is not maintained, academic probation or dismissal from the program will be invoked. A 2.7 final GPA must be achieved to graduate in all situations. (Effective Fall 2007 class). Students are permitted to graduate with an F grade in a course; however, no grade lower than a C- will be counted towards the degree. In particular, a C- grade or better must be achieved in the core courses or they must be retaken.

Graduation Checklist for MSE Students

  • Watch for email announcements regarding applying for graduation.  Information on applying for a degree/graduation can be found here.
  • If needed, master’s thesis instructions should be obtained early on in the writing stage. You should make your advisor aware of the need for a timely reading and signature before graduation.
  • Check that your academic record is cleared of Incompletes, No Grade Reported, and Unsatisfactory Progress. and that your GPA meets the requirements..
  • Students who graduate in August or December may participate in the following May Commencement; a student graduating in August may participate in the May Commencement prior to graduation – contact Redian Furxhiu for information.
  • Make sure that your bursar’s bill is cleared before the end of the final semester.
  • Students are allowed a maximum of seven years to complete the MSE degree program.
Graduate Program:

Your CIS Contacts:

Redian Furxhiu
Graduate Coordinator for on-campus MCIT, CIS/MSE and CGGT programs
Office: 308 Levine
Phone: 215-898-1668

Staci Kaplan
Program Manager for DATS (Data Science MSE)
Office: 308 Levine
Phone: 215-573-2431

Britton Carnevali
Doctoral Program Manager
Office: 310 Levine
Phone: 215-898-5515

Mariel Celentano
Graduate Coordinator for ROBO
Office: 459 Levine
Phone: 215-573-4907

Liz Wai-Ping Ng
Associate Director for Embedded Systems MSE program
Office: 313 Levine
Phone: 215-898-8543

Julia Esposito
PICS Program Coordinator, SCMP Academic Coordinator
Office: 3401 Walnut, 5th Fl.
Phone: 215-573-6037