CS Graduate Handbook

USF Mission and Values

Jesuit tradition defines USF’s approach to learning and our commitment to welcoming students of every faith and no faith. Our vision and mission are the foundations of our university, and reflect the shared views of our institution.


The University of San Francisco will be internationally recognized as a premier Jesuit Catholic, urban university with a global perspective that educates leaders who will fashion a more humane and just world.


The core mission of the university is to promote learning in the Jesuit Catholic tradition. The university offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional students the knowledge and skills needed to succeed as persons and professionals, and the values and sensitivity necessary to be men and women for others.

The university will distinguish itself as a diverse, socially responsible learning community of high quality scholarship and academic rigor sustained by a faith that does justice. The university will draw from the cultural, intellectual, and economic resources of the San Francisco Bay Area and its location on the Pacific Rim to enrich and strengthen its educational programs.

Registering for Classes

Registration for graduate students begins in early April for the Fall semester and early November for the Spring semester. See the Registration Calendar for specific dates.

How to Register for Classes

Registration for most courses can be done online via USF Connect. See the Online Registration Instructions for more information.

All variable unit courses, such as CS 695 Practicum Study and CS 698 Directed Reading and Research, have specific registration requirements. Students must get faculty approval to enroll in these courses.

Registration Holds

All students have a registration hold placed on their account prior to registration. Students must meet with their advisor (faculty or staff) before the hold will be removed. Each semester, both individual and group enrollment advising sessions will be held to provide multiple times to meet with an advisor.

Students will also have a hold if they have a past due balance, and must pay that balance before the hold is lifted and registration is possible. It is also possible that a prerequisite is preventing a student from enrolling. For example, CS 695 Practicum Study requires advisor approval. In that case, you must first obtain that approval.

Time to Degree Requirements

Time limitations for completing all requirements for the Master's degree in the College of Arts and Sciences is four years. Time is counted from the beginning of a student's graduate program, regardless of any leave of absence taken.

Course Load and Residency Requirement

Students in master's programs are required to register for a minimum of three (3) credit hours each semester, unless their only remaining academic work is their thesis or other major creative work. In the latter case they must register for at least one (1) credit hour every semester until the thesis has been completed, and at least three (3) credit hours total for the thesis or other creative work. USF Computer Science graduate students are also required to be enrolled in at least one Computer Science course each semester until they complete their degree.

International students are required to maintain at least six (6) units each semester to maintain full time status for visa requirements.


Once Computer Science graduate students finish all core courses, they are required to complete a minimum of 16 units of electives during their final year of study. A maximum of one course, or four units of upper-division undergraduate computer science courses may be taken and applied towards the electives.

Census Date

The census date of the University represents a calendar date in each term when the general enrollment statistics of the University are established. Particulars of these statistics are identified among colleges, classes and student levels. The census dates are identified in the Schedule of Classes for a term. Following the census date in any term, classes dropped will receive a "W" symbol representing the fact that the class was dropped after the census date; the only exceptions to be made are classes canceled by the dean of the college, or a change from one section to another of the same course. Students are liable for the tuition for all courses withdrawn after the census dates.

Class Attendance

Students are expected to attend classroom and laboratory exercises. Absences may affect the final grade or eligibility to sit for the final examination. At the department's discretion, students who are absent from the first two class meetings of the term may be administratively dropped from the class.

When representing the University of San Francisco in intercollegiate competition (e.g., athletics, debate), students shall be excused from classes on the hours or days such competition takes them away from classes. However, such students shall be responsible for advising their professors regarding anticipated absences and for arranging to complete coursework for classes, laboratories, and/or examinations missed.

Credit for Repeated Courses

Students may repeat courses. Both the initial grade and the subsequent repeat grade will show on the academic record and count in the grade point average. The credits earned in the repeated courses will not be included in the cumulative credits earned or in the total needed for graduation, unless indicated otherwise in this catalog. See specific course descriptions.


Students are expected to take all examinations for courses in which they are enrolled. The final exam period is listed in the Academic Calendar. Dates for semester final exams appear in the Schedule of Classes. Final exams may not be rescheduled without the approval of the dean of the appropriate school or college. Members of Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit Honor Society, may request to be excused from final exams at the end of the final semester of their senior year. In such cases, teachers will grade the student on the basis of work done during the semester.


Students who wish to obtain a copy of their academic transcript must submit, in accordance with privacy laws, a signed written request to the Office of the University Registrar. Such requests may be submitted by mail, by fax, in person, or through a designated online form using an electronic signature. For complete instructions on submission, please visit https://myusf.usfca.edu/student-records/transcripts.

All requests for transcripts must be accompanied by a payment of transcript fees. Processing of transcript requests usually takes one to three days and may take as long as one week. Transcripts may be delayed during the days of registration and commencement ceremonies of any term. Express delivery is available for an additional charge.

An academic transcript will not be released to any student who has failed to meet all financial obligations to the University. Any transcript request with incomplete addresses, insufficient information for processing, or unaccompanied by the transcript fee will be significantly delayed and may be returned to the sender.

Only official academic transcripts from the University of San Francisco are released by the Office of the University Registrar. Transfer transcripts from other schools must be ordered from original sources to ensure their validity and accuracy. The University of San Francisco reserves the right to control the conditions by which its transcripts are distributed. The University is responsible for the accuracy and validity of its transcripts as legal documents.

Standards of Scholarship and Grade System

The work of graduate students is evaluated and reported in terms of the following grade types:

A - Outstanding
B - Satisfactory; student meets all major course competencies
C - Student meets minimum standards for obtaining credit
*F - Failure; student does not meet minimum standards for obtaining credit.

The grades A, B, and C may be modified by (+) or (-). In addition, the following notations are sometimes used:

P - "Passing," at least at the lowest passing level (C-); not counted in computing the grade point average. In some graduate programs P/F is used to evaluate those courses associated with research or a field project dissertation proposal, or a dissertation. A Pass-Fail option is irrevocable, if chosen by a student.

S, U - "Satisfactory" or "Unsatisfactory" notations are given in certain courses. For an "S" grade, the credits will count toward the total credits required for graduation, but not in the grade point average computation. In some graduate programs, S/U is used to evaluate courses associated with a thesis.

I - "Incomplete" denotes an examination or required assignment which has been postponed for a serious reason after consultation with the instructor. Students who have not contacted a faculty member regarding completion of course requirements are subject to a failing grade.

Students given approval to postpone course requirements must complete them on the date specified by the faculty member. If the notation is still incomplete at the close of the following semester, it is converted to a failing grade (F).

IP - Work "In Progress"; final grade to be assigned upon completion of the entire course sequence in courses predetermined by the dean. "In Progress" (IP) notations on graduate student transcripts, if not cleared, will revert to an "F" upon expiration of the time limit set by the department.

W - "Withdrawal"; a notation used by the Office of the Registrar when a student drops a course after University census date but before the withdrawal deadline in any given semester.

NR - Grade "Not Reported" by instructor within 10 days after the examination period; a notation used by the Office of the Registrar. To correct the transcript, the instructor must file a change of grade form. "NR" carries no connotation of student performance and no grade point value is given. "NR" notations that are not reconciled by the end of the following semester will be converted to a failing grade (F).

AU - "Auditor"; course not taken for credit. Regular tuition is charged for audited courses.

Grade Points

Grade points per semester credit are assigned as follows:

A+ = 4.0
A = 4.0
A- = 3.7
B+ = 3.3
B = 3.0
B- = 2.7
C+ = 2.3
C = 2.0
C- = 1.7
F = 0.0

Change of Grade

When a student believes that his or her final grade for a course was unfair, the student may use the process described herein to seek resolution of the matter. The burden of proving a claim of an unfair grade (e.g. discrimination, unjust treatment, or errors in calculation) rests with the student. Grades are awarded or changed only by the course instructor or through this appeals process. An appealed grade may be raised or lowered during the course of this appeals process. The parties should make every effort to achieve consensus and to resolve conflicts at the lowest level and as quickly as possible, especially in cases where a student's timely academic progress is in jeopardy.

The student must direct an appeal in writing to the course instructor involved within the first 30 days of the next semester for the Fall and Spring semesters or 30 days after the grade is available online for Intersession or Summer Session. The appeal must include presentation of whatever evidence of unfair evaluation the student believes is relevant. Once the time limit has expired, an appeal will not be taken forward unless the student could not reasonably have known about the alleged injustice within that time; in that case the student must appeal within 30 days of discovering the alleged injustice. It is the responsibility of all parties to make every effort to resolve their differences between themselves and informally.

If at any stage of the grade appeal process an allegation of academic dishonesty becomes known for the first time, this Grade Appeal Process shall be suspended and the case referred to the Academic Honesty Hearing Committee. The Academic Honesty Hearing Committee will make a written report of its findings to the parties involved. If the Academic Honesty Hearing Committee finds the student not guilty of academic dishonesty, the student shall then have the right to decide whether or not to return to the Appeal Process for Change of Grade. If the Academic Honesty Hearing Committee finds the student guilty of academic dishonesty, then the instructor's grade will stand and the student will not have the right to return to the Appeal Process for Change of Grade. The Academic Honesty Hearing Committee does not have the authority to alter a student's grade and should not consider in any way the merits of the grade itself; the only questions are whether academic dishonesty did occur, and if so, what the appropriate sanction(s) should be.

At any stage, any of the parties may invite the University Ombudsperson to help facilitate an agreement.

Changes to Academic Records After Students Graduate

A student's academic record is sealed when his or her degree is posted. With the exception of errors, omissions, or documented discrepancies, changes to a student's major, minor, concentration, or academic honors, or the removal and/or change of incompletes, grades, or other components of the academic record are not permitted.

Student Retention

The University of San Francisco has a genuine concern about student retention and is committed to developing and implementing strategies that assist students in attaining their academic objectives.

Students planning to take a temporary leave of absence or to withdraw from the University must check in with their Program Manager. The Program Manager will assist students in identifying campus resources and services that may assist them in reconsidering a decision to leave the University and/or how to re-enter at a later date.

Appropriate intervention strategies also are implemented for enrolled students who may be at risk for stopping out or dropping out of school prior to realizing their academic goal. When identified, these "at risk" students will be provided with information about University procedures or given referrals for problems related to academic, personal, social, or financial difficulties.

For more information, please contact the Center for Academic and Student Achievement (415-422-5050).

Leave of Absence

All CS graduate students that wish to take time off during their degree are required to get approval from the department prior to their departure in order to return to the program. All students who take a leave of absence without department approval will have a registration hold placed on their student account, which will be removed only once they meet with the Graduate Director and Program Manager.

Registered students in good standing (academic and disciplinary) who wish to leave the University temporarily are required to file a Leave of Absence form with the Office of the University Registrar. Forms are available online at https://myusf.usfca.edu/registration/forms.

It is the students’ responsibility to contact their school or college for additional information regarding a leave of absence before they file a Leave of Absence form with the Office of the University Registrar.
All leaves of absence that result from a health or wellness issue may be handled collaboratively between the students’ school or college and the Dean of Students office. Leaves of absence are authorized case by case.

The maximum leave of absence that may be granted at any one time is one academic year. Students who do not return for the semester specified are considered to have withdrawn from the University; they must apply for readmission should they wish to return.

Students who wish to enroll for course work at other institutions during their leave of absence from the University must obtain their USF dean’s prior written approval and must observe the rules for courses taken at other institutions. Courses taken without prior written approval will not be counted toward the degree.

Students who withdraw or take a leave of absence from the university on or after the first day of the semester must comply with the official USF withdrawal or leave of absence policy to be eligible for a refund of tuition charges and residence hall fees.  A pro-rated refund of charges will be applied for students withdrawing or taking a leave of absence within the first 21 days of the fall and spring semester.

Withdrawal from the University

Students planning to withdraw from the University are encouraged to make an appointment with their dean’s office or advisor prior to initiating withdrawal procedures.

Petition to Withdraw forms are available in the Office of the University Registrar, most deans’ offices, and online here: https://myusf.usfca.edu/registration/forms. The withdrawal becomes final only when the completed form or an intention to withdraw has been filed with the Office of the University Registrar.

Students who simply absent themselves from class without providing appropriate notice of intention to withdraw will have failing grades (F) posted to their records. Withdrawal from the University must occur on or before the last day to withdraw from classes for any semester. For the summer term, a withdrawal applies only to those programs that require a summer enrollment.

Students who withdraw or take a leave of absence from the university on or after the first day of the semester must comply with the official USF withdrawal or leave of absence policy to be eligible for a refund of tuition charges and residence hall fees.  A pro-rated refund  of charges will be applied for students withdrawing or taking a leave of absence within the first 21 days of the fall and spring semester.

Students mailing their withdrawal notification should send them by certified mail to:

Office of the University Registrar
University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117-1080

Academic Actions and Academic Probation Designations

Any graduate student whose cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0 will be placed on academic probation. Students on academic probation who fail to raise their cumulative grade point average to 3.0 by the time they have completed at a minimum the next six (6) credit hours of graduate work or semester are subject to  disqualification from the program by the Associate Dean of Graduate Programs. Students whose cumulative average falls below 2.5 in any one semester will be disqualified from the program.

Students who are placed on Academic Probation are required to meet with the Program Manager to review their current standing and create an action plan for the following semester.

Academic Disqualification

If, at any time, it is determined that a student on academic probation cannot, under any set of circumstances, bring his or her cumulative grade point average above a 3.0 by the time the next six (6) credit hours are completed, that student will be dismissed from their program.

If a student receives an F in a course due to academic dishonesty (see Honor Code for examples of academic dishonesty), the  student's enrollment in their graduate program can be terminated immediately and the incident will be reported to the Academic Integrity Committee for further action.  Sanctions may include probation, suspension, and up to expulsion. If the Academic Integrity Committee determines that a student should be academically disqualified from a program, there will be a  permanent notation on the student’s transcript.

MSCS Bridge students are required to have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher at the end of their first academic year to automatically move on into the final two years of the program. Students who do not meet this requirement will receive an academic review by the faculty director to determine if they continue with the program. 

Students who have been dismissed due to poor academic performance or for academic dishonesty will be eligible to re-apply to that program again only after one full academic year.  Students who have been expelled or dismissed with cause by the Academic Integrity Committee are not be eligible to re-apply.

Readmission Policy

Students that are dismissed from the MS in Computer Science or MS in Computer Science Bridge program due of poor academic progress may reapply for admission. All dismissed students should contact both the Faculty Director and graduate Program Manager to discuss readmission. Those seeking to be readmitted should use the following policy to guide the process:

Reapplication Requirements

  • Wait two years before reapplying (application fee will be waived)
  • Submit a complete application online, including test scores
  • Show improvement of skills through any of the following options:
    • Additional coursework at a separate institution
    • At least one year of professional experience as a software engineer
  • Submission of new projects
  • Submit two recommendation letters from faculty and/or project manager(s) who have interacted with an applicant in the last 2 years and can assess their technical skills
  • Statement of purpose should address prior academic issues and what was done to improve skills

Applicants are strongly encouraged to talk with the graduate director for suggestions on which additional coursework they should complete and which skills need to be improved prior to reapplying.

Please note that readmission is not guaranteed.