Comprehensive Exam Requirements

Comprehensive Examination Requirements

The comprehensive exams of the computer science master programs consist of multiple components. Specifically, all Computer Science graduate students must complete/pass:

  1. Degree Outline: Have a degree outline prepared before the end of their first semester. Currently this is done during the mandatory diagnostic interview sessions for newly admitted CS master degree students.
  2. Programming exam: Pass a written exam in programming.
  3. Communication exam: Pass a written exam in communication.
  4. Attendance requirement of computer science seminars.
  5. For non-thesis students, the written core course exam.

Failure to complete 1, 2, or 3 will result in a "hold" on registration and may cause delays in taking/passing the comprehensive examination. 

Programming Exam

The Programming Exam integrates problem-solving and technical abilities to write clear and logical code. The exam format is written.

  • The allowable programming languages are C++/Java. Students can elect either of the two.
  • This exam is given to newly admitted graduate students typically one week prior to the start of their first semester.  A student who doesn’t participate in the exam forfeits the opportunity of taking the exam and must take the remedy course - CS 5301.
  • To aid in preparing for the exam, students may access sample exams linked here.  
  • Students who fail the Programming Exam are required to take the remedy course CS 5301 immediately. Students must obtain a grade C or higher of CS 5301 in order to satisfy the programming exam requirement. Students are allowed to take CS 5301 twice.

Communication Exam

The Communication Exam tests the ability to write clear technical English on computer science topics. All students must satisfy one of the following three options:

  • Have a score of 3.5 or higher on the Analytical Writing section of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • Take the Communication Exam and earn a passing score in the first long semester. 
    1. This exam is given to newly admitted graduate students during their first semester (spring or fall semester only).
    2. Students are registered and notified by the department for this exam.
    3. This exam can only be taken once during the first semester of initial enrollment. 
  • Complete one of the following Texas State English courses, ENG 3313, ENG 3311, or ENG 3303, and earn a grade of B or higher. Students must register for one of the English courses by the end of the student's first year in the graduate program. There is no limit on the number of times the students can take those English courses.

Seminar Attendance

All computer science master students are required to attend at least four computer science departmental seminars. All seminars that can be counted toward this requirement are announced by the department through emails to all active students and on the department website. Students are strongly recommended to plan and participate in seminars earlier and not to wait until the final semester of their study.

Written Core Course Exam (Non-Thesis Students)

All non-thesis students are required to take a departmental written core course exam after having completed the core courses in computer science (including all concentrations) or software engineering and accumulating at least 18 graduate hours of credit. 

  • This exam covers the core courses as indicated in the student's degree outline.
  • The questions are graded on computer science or software engineering content.
  • Students who perform unacceptably on the exam may take the exam a second time. A third test administration is at the discretion of the committee that administers the exams, based on intensive and documented justification provided by the student.
  • Exams are given during the fall and spring semesters.
  • Students are required to register for the exam a week in advance of the announced exam date.

Students who do not successfully complete the requirements for the degree within the timelines specified will be dismissed from the program.