Computer Science and Engineering Contiguous Bachelor’s/Master’s Pathway: Computer Science and Engineering

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) offers a combined bachelor's/master's pathway. Undergraduate students from any major in the Baskin Engineering can apply to the pathway in order to earn a bachelor's degree together with an M.S. degree in Computer Science and Engineering. Depending on the student’s progress and advance planning, it is expected that the combined pathway can be completed in five years.

The five-year bachelor's/master's pathway offers a competitive edge to students who are completing their undergraduate degree at UC Santa Cruz, by enabling those with advanced preparation to move directly from the undergraduate to the graduate program. The pathway assists qualified enrolled students with a simplified graduate application process that does not require students to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and makes it possible to complete an M.S. degree with as few as seven courses beyond the bachelor’s degree.

The pathway prepares students for leadership positions in industry, and is also attractive for undergraduate students planning to pursue a Ph.D. degree targeting research careers in industry or academia. Baskin Engineering has many opportunities for undergraduate and graduate research, and Bachelor's/Master's pathway students may be able to continue their undergraduate research projects as graduate students with the same research group.

Students in the M.S. programs are not guaranteed any form of financial support from the department. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that they have sufficient funds for completing the M.S. degree program. Most M.S. students manage their finances by working as interns at companies in the Bay Area during the summer months.

Particularly motivated students can complete both the bachelor’s and the master’s degrees in 15 quarters. However, advance planning is essential. Interested students should contact the Baskin Engineering Graduate Affairs Office and their faculty adviser early in their college career—no later than the end of their junior year. Students in this pathway retain undergraduate status until the completion of all undergraduate requirements, but may begin graduate coursework in advance of graduate standing.

Admission to the Contiguous Five-Year Bachelor’s/Master’s Pathway

The undergraduate degree requirements are not changed by the Bachelor's/Master's pathway; however, the pathway capitalizes on graduate-level courses that may apply toward both the undergraduate and graduate degree requirements (see Course Requirements below). Students should consult the Undergraduate Affairs Office with questions about their respective undergraduate degree requirements.

Acceptance into the CSE Bachelor's/Master's pathway is by informal application, and is very simple. Students interested in the Bachelor's/Master's pathway should declare their interest to the Graduate Affairs Office, and attend a Bachelor's/Master's Workshop (typically offered in the fall and spring quarters). Undergraduates interested in the pathway can complete the interest form at any time starting in the first quarter of junior standing. To qualify, applicants must be current UC Santa Cruz undergraduates declared in a major within Baskin Engineering, must have a 3.0 GPA when they apply to the Bachelor's/Master's pathway, and must maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher until the completion of their undergraduate requirements. The Graduate Affairs Office will verify and track students' eligibility for the pathway until completion of the bachelor's degree. Applicants who maintain eligibility through completion of their undergraduate program will not be required to submit GRE scores when completing the CSE M.S. graduate admission application. Two of the three required letters of recommendation are waived for applicants with confirmed eligibility for the pathway.

Confirmed eligibility for the Bachelor's/Master's pathway does not guarantee admission to the CSE M.S. program. Pathway applicants must formally apply and be admitted to the Computer Science and Engineering Master's program through the regular graduate admissions process, although the GRE requirement and two letters of recommendation are waived. The CSE M.S. application deadline is usually in December or early January. Students who apply to the M.S. program through the Bachelor's/Master's pathway are not guaranteed admission to the M.S. program—they will be measured against the full applicant pool during the admissions decisions process. If admitted to the CSE M.S. program, pathway students are able to count qualified courses previously completed as an undergraduate toward their CSE M.S. degree requirements. To ensure courses are qualified to count toward the M.S. degree, students should review the CSE M.S. degree requirements and communicate with their graduate student adviser.

Students who do not meet the Bachelor's/Master's pathway eligibility requirements or who wish to take time off between the bachelor's and master's degree programs are encouraged to apply for admission to the standard CSE M.S. program through the regular graduate admissions process.

Course Requirements

Master's students can graduate by pursuing either Thesis Plan I or a Capstone Plan II. The Thesis Plan I is appropriate for students interested in advanced studies and in carrying out independent research, as well as for those students contemplating pursuit of a Ph.D. degree. The Thesis Plan I may extend the normative time for graduation beyond the expected one year as students typically take two to three quarters to complete a thesis. Advance planning is essential to graduate from the CSE M.S. program with the Thesis Plan I in one year. The Capstone Plan II is appropriate for students interested in advanced studies to better prepare themselves in the information technology workforce. The normative time for graduation with Capstone Plan II is one year for a full-time student.

Students may count up to 13 credits of courses taken as an undergraduate toward the M.S. coursework requirements. Of these 13 course credits, no more than 5 can be from undergraduate courses, and the undergraduate course credits must not be used to satisfy any undergraduate degree requirements. A minimum of 35 credits of graduate coursework must be completed during the graduate career. At most one upper-division undergraduate course can be counted toward the M.S. degree requirements.

Students should refer to the CSE M.S. program statement for more specific information on degree requirements, concentrations, academic progress, and applying to graduate.