New CS Graduate Students

Welcome to the Department of Computer Science graduate programs! Below you will find resources to assist you in getting ready for the fall semester. Please feel free to email if you have any questions.

Please let us know if your status changes before orientation begins. In particular, if you do not plan to join our program please let us know so we can release your space to someone else. Keep in mind your deposit is non-refundable.

Fall Orientation Details

The new Computer Science Student Orientation will be held in mid to late August on Hilltop Campus at USF. Prior to orientation, all students will need to review the CS Graduate Student Handbook and submit the final signatory page to the department. More details about the orientation date and the CS Graduate Student Handbook will be shared in early summer.

Students are also required to view the following videos by orientation.

Health & Wellness (Video)

Professional Services (Video)

USF & CS Online Resources (Video)

Before You Arrive

Some additional items to be completed before you arrive. In particular, please make sure you have read the following guides:

  • Next Steps: Graduate Arts and Sciences: General information for all graduate students joining the College of Arts and Sciences. Includes information about sending in your official transcripts, setting up your student account, health insurance, and proof of immunization.

  • Pre-Arrival Information for International Students: If you are an international student, please also check out this guide put together by our International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office. This includes information about your visa, packing and travel, and what to do when you first arrive.

In addition, we have provided some extra information for you here. 

Join with your USF email for the latest news and updates!

Program Preparation

Most of our  courses use JavaPython, or the C programming language. We recommend all incoming graduate students brush up on these languages before arriving.

You will write THOUSANDS of lines of code in your first set of courses, so you will want to be prepared! For example, CS 601 Principles of Software Development is one of the first courses you will take. In that course alone, be prepared to write independently 7,000 lines of code. It is important to refresh your skills and come to the program ready for a rigorous graduate program that will prepare you for a successful career!

We also recommend you fill in any missing prerequisite courses you have not already taken. For the MSCS, this includes:

  • CS 110 High-Level Programming (e.g. C, Python)
  • CS 112 Object-Oriented Programming (e.g. Java, C++, C#, Objective-C)
  • CS 245 Data Structures and Algorithms
  • CS 315 Computer Architecture or CS 326 Operating Systems
  • MATH 201 Linear Algebra and Probability
  • MATH 202 Discrete Math

For students in the MSCS Bridge Program, this includes:

  • Introduction to Computer Science/Programming

It is important that this class involves coding assignments -  as a minimum, you need to be comfortable with variables, functions, conditionals, loops.

We have the same expectations for all students, whether or not you have a formal CS degree. All students will take the same set of core courses in your respective programs when you arrive.

Finally, if you are an non-native English speaker, we highly recommend you practice listening and speaking in English. All courses and discussions will be in English, and many of our courses do not have associated books. You will need to be able to comprehend fast-paced lectures in English, and participate in class discussions on technical topics.

Participating in free online courses (in English) are sufficient for all of the above. Check out CourseraedX, and Udacity for options.

Course Registration

All new students will register for courses during the summer (late June, early July). Your Program Director will reach out to each student to assist with the fall schedule of courses and information on how to enroll through our online registration system. Tuition for fall semester is due August 1st.

You can find registration instructions and policies from our Student Enrollment Services office. See the Payment Options guide for information on payment deadlines, how to signup for a payment plan, or setup an authorized payer

Finding Housing

You should plan on finding housing BEFORE you arrive. USF has a fantastic off-campus housing page with lots of relevant information. The guides above list several on-campus and off-campus housing resources. Our International Student and Scholar Services office can provide a letter of verification for international students to help with the rental process.

It can be challenging to find affordable housing in the SF Bay Area. The key is to start early. We will also occasionally post additional housing resources in the Announcements section when the semester approaches.

After You Arrive

You are also encouraged to explore the campus and explore the region. See the Getting Around in San Francisco guide for the public transportation options in the area. 

Student ID Card

You will need to download an app to create a digital USF One Card before you arrive on-campus. This will serve as your student ID, give you access to our classrooms and labs, and you can even place money on your card for use in our on-campus cafeteria. There are instructions online for the download of the iOS, Android, or to request a physical card. 

International Student Orientation

All international students must attend international student orientation. For details, please see:

Failure to attend international student orientation may result in a hold being placed on your account, which limits your ability to register for classes and access resources.