The revised MSCS program is designed with the objective of providing a well-balanced breadth and depth knowledge at the graduate level. The program is designed such that students graduate with adequate advanced breadth in the discipline, while simultaneously allowing for emphasis in a desired area of specialization.
All students enrolled in the revised MSCS program are required to complete 24-credit hours of coursework, 6-credit hours of thesis, and a seminar course.
The full details of the MSCS program requirements can be found in Part II of this document.
The coursework requirements are broken down into core coursework requirements and elective coursework requirements. In order to determine the requirement for the core coursework, we reviewed a number of MSCS programs at reputable universities in North America. We found out that three different philosophies were adopted in regards to core coursework. Please refer to Section 5 and Table 7. The philosophies are as follows:
I No-Core Requirements. All courses are elective.
II Fixed-Core Requirements. The program has a certain number of fixed or compulsory core courses that must be taken by all students. These courses are considered as a must-have competence, and would equip students to embark on a more in-depth study of a specific topic in the discipline.
III Selective-Core Requirements. Students must complete a breadth requirement by taking three or four courses from either a list of courses, or from courses within a set of subject areas.
Our revised MSCS program has adopted a combination of Philosophies II and III, with more weight on Philosophy III. It is to be noted that Philosophy III is the most common and is the current trend. Philosophy I is too loose, lacking depth, and does not guarantee breadth.
The admission process starts with an application to the Deanship of Graduate Studies. The applicant must fill all related forms which can be obtained from the Deanship of Graduate Studies office or website. The applicant must also submit the following:
A letter of intent
At least three reference letters
Official TOEFL scores report
General GRE scores report
An MS applicant must have a BS in engineering or science from an institution whose undergraduate programs are at least comparable to those of KFUPM in both content and quality. All applicants must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 out of 4.
Core Background Requirements
In order for an applicant to be admitted to the MSCS program, he must have a strong background in the following core areas of computer science:
Unsatisfactory background in any of these areas is considered a deficiency. Conditional admission may be granted to otherwise qualified students with some core background deficiencies. Students with deficiencies must take the corresponding
appropriate course(s) at KFUPM. Any deficiency must be completed with a grade of B or better before a change of status to regular is realized.
As recognized, the computer science discipline is diverse in nature. It is important to provide MS students with an advanced holistic view of the discipline of important and popular topics, with some degree of flexibility that matches the interest of the individual student. It is worth noting here though that the ICS department has started offering two specialized master programs in Software Engineering and Computer Security. This gives a room for the revised MSCS to be more focused and specialized. Accordingly, we undertook the following steps:
i Classify courses into a number of subject areas
ii Identify subject areas which are core to computer science and popular
iii Identify the most important course or courses from each core subject area that would constitute the most adequate representation of the area. These courses were chosen to be the core courses.
It is to be noted that the identification of subject areas and core subject areas has been debated several times and voted on in the ICS departmental council meetings. However, the identification of core courses from each core subject area has been agreed upon by the experts in the area. As will be noted later in Section 5, our selection of core subject areas is very much in-line with reputable universities in North America.
Core Subject Area
Algorithms and Applications
System and Languages
Security and Net-centric Computing
No (there is an MS program in Security and Information Assurance SIA)
No (there is an MS program in Software Engi-neering SWE)
Table 3 shows the core subject areas and their representative core courses. In addition to the above two courses, a third core course, ICS 500 (Research Methods and Experiment Design in Computing), must be taken by all students. The revised MSCS program includes some degree of flexibility in meeting the program’s breadth requirement through electives. In addition, there will be some degree of flexibility in offering a variety of courses from the same area, as opposed to having always fixed core courses that must be offered once per academic year.
Table 4 below shows the overall course requirements:
ICS 553 and ICS 535
Major Area Elective
Must be taken from the student’s selected major area. (Either Area A or Area B)
1 Course (ICS 500)
“Research Methods and Experiment Design in Computing”
General Area Electives
Can be taken from courses listed in Table 6.
Elective courses can also be taken from outside the list, for example, COE, EE, SE and MATH ... etc, subject to approval from the ICS Department.
At least one course should be from outside of Area A and Area B.
At least one course should be from Area C or Area D.
ICS 599: Seminar
Zero credit hour (P/F)
Has ICS 500 as a Pre-requisite
ICS 610: Master Thesis
6 credit hours
The revised MSCS program gives students the freedom to have adequate in-depth study of a certain major area by allowing them to possibly take four courses, including the core course, from one area. This option is attractive for students who conduct in-depth research of a certain topic. On the other hand, the program allows students to have a wide advanced knowledge of the discipline by having them take three elective courses from other subject areas or other departments. The second option is attractive for those who pursue research topics that are multidisciplinary in nature, and for those who would like to have advanced wide scope of computer science skills and topics, in order to meet job market demands in the Kingdom.