Full-Time Master's Programs

For full details on the master's programs, see the MSc Program

Why a Master's Degree

For those students contemplating advanced studies in computer science at UBC, completing a master's degree before continuing to the PhD program confers several advantages. The two-year period of the master's first helps students decide whether a research career is the right career choice for them. If it is, taking this time helps give them the skills needed to pursue independent research. Second, the research experience gained can be very valuable as student work toward picking a PhD topic, as most professors in the department prefer that students shoulder this choice on their own. Third, students who complete master's degrees and decide to work in industry prior to embarking on the full PhD have the opportunity to apply their skills and master's level education in the field and to take advantage of jobs that have attractive starting salaries.

Master's Program

Each incoming master's student is assigned an advisor. The advisor is responsible for monitoring the student's progress until the student finds a thesis supervisor. Students have two semesters to meet faculty members and explore research opportunities before making a decision on a thesis supervisor. This provides students with a great opportunity to find the best research interest and personality match among our large and diverse faculty.

The UBC Department of Computer Science offers three avenues to a Master's Degree. The first of these is the 12 credit Thesis Master's, where the major focus is on the student's own research. The second is the Comprehensive Course Master's, that includes a 3-credit major project (essay). The third option is the 6-credit Thesis Master’s that strikes a balance between the research focus of the Thesis Master's and the course focus of the Comprehensive Course Master's. The department generally does not encourage students to take advantage of this option, but does make it available in unusual circumstances.

Thesis Master's - 12-credit Thesis 

12 credit MSc thesis and 18 credits of course work.

The focus of this master's program is on the student's research, which will be equivalent (in effort) to four graduate courses.

Students pursuing this option will be required to present their thesis results at a departmental seminar. For this purpose, the thesis need not be in its final written form (although the basic results should be in hand).

The 12 credit MSc thesis must satisfy one or more of the following criteria:

  • It involves some original research results;
  • It deals with a novel exploratory implementation, the results of which will be of some interest to a portion of the computer science community;
  • It involves novel implementation techniques;
  • It involves the implementation of a practical piece of nontrivial software whose availability could have some impact on the computer science user community.

Comprehensive Course/Essay Master's

3 credit MSc essay and 27 credits of course work, of which 24 credits must fulfill the Comprehensive Course Requirement.

The student must:

  • complete the breadth component of the Comprehensive Course Requirement.
  • complete 3 credits' worth of master's essay
  • complete 27 credits of course work outside the essay, of which
    • at least 21 credits must be computer science courses OR the student must obtain approval for the program from their supervisor or advisor; and
    • a maximum of 6 credits at the undergraduate level in courses numbered 300 to 499 may be counted toward the requirements of a master's degree.

The master's essay will be a comprehensive critical survey of the literature in some area of computer science; it may identify feasible and significant open problems, but is not expected to contribute to their solution.

Explore graduate course options. 

Third Option - 6-credit Thesis

6 credit MSc thesis and 24 credits of course work

This master's program balances the research focus of the Thesis Master's against the course focus of the Comprehensive Course Master's. Students are not encouraged to select this option, but it is available under unusual circumstances.

The 6 credit MSc thesis must satisfy one or more of the criteria cited above for the 12 credit MSc thesis (under Thesis Master's), but is of correspondingly lesser scope. The thesis is to be equivalent in effort to two graduate courses. A thesis supervisor is required.

Explore graduate course options.