M.Sc. Program Requirements



M.Sc. students are encouraged to finish their Master's program within 2 years.

M.Sc. Thesis-Based Timeline M.Sc. Course-Based Timeline

Thesis-Based Masters Requirements

Most students complete these requirements in their first year. Minimum requirements include:

  • Four computing science graduate courses (either 500 or 600 level)
    • You may only include one "special topics" course (CMPUT 605)
    • Exceptions for obtaining credit for non-CS courses must be discussed with the Grad Chair
  • One course on Teaching and Research Methods (CMPUT 603)
    • TA Training Requirements. We require that graduate students take 3 FGSR sessions on teaching. These sessions may be taken during FGSR's Graduate Teaching and Learning week in late August and early January. They are considered part of a requirement for CMPUT 603.
    • The Ethics Training Requirement required by FGSR is handled by
      • 2 FGSR sessions on ethics. These can be taken during FGSR's Graduate Teaching and Learning week in late August or early January. There are also on-line sessions through mygradskills that can be used as well.
      • Online GET (Graduate Ethics Training) Modules. This is handled through CMPUT 603.
      • Lectures in CMPUT 603
      • If CMPUT 603 has been waived for you, talk to the department about how to complete your Ethics requirement.
  • Professional Development Requirement
    • Individual Development Plan must be completed within the first 12 months of your program. To meet this requirement, complete the workbook and review this with your supervisor.
    • Eight hours of professional development activities - these hours are covered by CMPUT 603. The topics covered in this course normally include career development (communication, networking, collaboration), professional practice, entrepreneurship and/or intellectual property, teaching skills.
    • Fill out the Form. For PD hours, indicate CMPUT 603, 8 hours and the date you took it. Once you have met with your supervisor to discuss your IDP workbook, your supervisor will sign the form.
    • If CMPUT 603 has been waived for you, talk to the department about how to complete your PD requirement.
  • Maintaining a minimum GPA of 2.7 on a 4.0 point scale
  • Residency requirement: You must be present (in the Department at the U of A) for at least 2 terms of full-time study

Note: Students enrolled in Statistical Machine Learning have their own set of course / thesis topic requirements.


You will present a technical seminar, based on your thesis research, to the Department prior to the final oral exam.

Assuming all members of the committee agree, students are allowed to combine this seminar presentation with their defense by defending immediately after the presentation. As long as all committee members will be in attendance, the student will NOT be required to begin the defense with a 15-20 minutes summary.

Seminar Guidelines

Dissertation (Thesis)

To demonstrate that you are capable of doing research that results in high quality publications, Master's students must produce a written dissertation. A M.Sc. thesis typically consists of a:

  • Thorough, integrated literature survey in a specific technical area
  • Critical analysis of approaches and results
  • Discussion of areas requiring further work
  • Report on research undertaken by the student (this must be non-trivial, but not necessarily sufficiently original for publication in the open literature)

FGSR states: "A master's thesis should reveal the candidate is able to work in a scholarly manner and is acquainted with the principal works published on the subject of the thesis. As far as possible it should be an original contribution."

Dissertation Guidelines

Final Oral Examination (Defense)

An examining committee will review your thesis to determine that it meets acceptable standards. The committee conducts an oral examination to test your knowledge of the thesis subject and related fields.

Final Oral Exam Guidelines

Course-Based Masters Requirements

Students in the course-based M.Sc. program are not required to write a thesis, but are required to complete 30 credits in graduate courses (10 courses), including:

Students can transfer into the course-based M.Sc. program only after consultation with their graduate supervisor, graduate advisor and after obtaining written consent from the Graduate Associate Chair.


The University of Alberta holds two convocations each year:

  • Spring Convocation in June
  • Fall Convocation in November

Convocation Deadlines and Details