CSME M.S. Program Structure

The structure of the CSME M.S. Program is described completely on this webpage. It is based on the CSME M.S. Proposal Document, which can be found on the CSME Resources webpage. However, as the program periodically evolves to address new developments, the information on this webpage should be viewed as the most accurate and current information about the CSME M.S. Program.

M.S. Program Overview

The M.S. component of the CSME Graduate Program at UCSD is a stand-alone program resulting in an M.S. degree in Computational Science. The stand-alone M.S. program is appropriate for scientists and engineers who would like some specialized training in computational science at the level of a Master’s degree but who are not interested in pursing a doctoral degree. The M.S. students who graduate from the CSME Program gain both a solid theoretical foundation and practical experience in solving real scientific problems using the latest mathematical algorithms, computer software, and computer hardware. CSME M.S. Graduates are attractive to industry and government organizations that increasingly require expertise in computational science.

M.S. Program Admission and Undergraduate Preparation

Prospective students must apply directly to the CSME M.S. Program; there is no affiliated department as there is in the case of the CSME Ph.D. Program. For more information about the mechanics of the CSME M.S. (and Ph.D.) admission process see the CSME Application and Admission webpage.

Students applying to the CSME Masters Program must present official evidence of a receipt of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher education or the equivalent, with training comparable to that provided by the University of California. A minimum scholastic average of B or better is required for course work completed in upper-division, or prior graduate study. In addition, students are required to have completed two years of calculus through Ordinary Differential Equations and Linear Algebra. Applicants must demonstrate advanced undergraduate-level proficiency in numerical analysis and in computer algorithms and data structures. Subject to petition and approval by the CSME Executive Committee, proficiency may be demonstrated by taking UCSD's courses in both subjects while enrolled in the graduate program (4 units per course):
  1. Numerical Methods (MATH 174/274 or MAE 290A)
  2. Data Structures and Algorithms (CSE 100 or CSE 101)
Alternatively, proficiency in the material contained in these courses may be satisfied by having previously taking these or equivalent courses at other institutions, or through other evidence of sufficient knowledge of this material. Demonstrating proficiency without taking these courses at UCSD is subject to petition and approval by the CSME Admissions Committee on an individual basis.

M.S. Program Structure and Requirements

The M.S. Program in CSME is designed to be a 2-year program centered around lecture and laboratory courses which focus on obtaining mastery of the primary tools used in computational science. Extracurricular training is an important component of the program with an expectation of team based laboratory projects on relevant topics from computational science. All students must successfully complete the following course work for a Total of 38 Required Units:
  1. (8 units) One of the following two-quarter sequences:
    • MATH 174/274: Numerical Methods and MATH 175/275: Numerical PDE
    • MAE 290A: Numerical Methods and MAE 290B: Numerical PDE
  2. (4 units) One of the following courses:
    • MATH 176: Datastructures and Algorithms
    • CSE 100: Datastructures and Algorithms
  3. (4 units) The following course:
    • PHYS 243: Stochastic Methods
  4. (8 units) The following two-quarter sequence of courses:
    • PHYS 141/241: Computational Physics I: Probabilistic Models and Simulations
    • PHYS 142/242: Computational Physics II: PDE and Matrix Models
  5. (4 units) One of the following courses:
    • PHYS 244: Parallel Computing
    • CSE 260: Parallel Computing
  6. (8 units) Two quarters from the same sequence chosen from the following list:
    • MATH 210ABC: Mathematical Methods in Physics and Engineering
    • MATH 270ABC: Numerical Analysis
    • MATH 271ABC: Numerical Optimization
    • MATH 272ABC: Numerical Partial Differential Equations
    • MATH 273ABC: Advanced Techniques in Computational Mathematics
    • PHYS 105AB: Mathematical and Computational Physics
    • PHYS 130AB: Quantum Physics
    or any two courses from the following list:
    • PHYS 225: General Relativity
    • BIPN 146: Computational Neurobiology
    • Other science courses as approved by the CSME Executive Committee
  7. (2 units) CSME Journal Club (taken for 2 quarters of 1 unit each)


Note: Full-time students are required to register for a minimum of twelve (12) units every quarter. Eight (8) of these twelve (12) units must be graduate-level CSME Program courses taken for a letter grade.


Qualifying Requirements: M.S. students must pass the final exams in three qualifying exam courses. It is expected that most students will register for and take these courses (4 units per course), but the Qualifying Exam Committee may allow an exceptionally well-prepared student to take the final exams without taking the courses. The three qualifying exam courses have been selected to provide a general broad set of tools in computational science, must be taken for a letter grade and are as follows:

  1. MATH 275 or MAE 290B (Numerical PDE)
  2. PHYS 244 or CSE 260 (Parallel Computing)
  3. Course to be selected from LIST A

LIST A: CSME Qualifying Exam Courses

The LIST A set of courses is a fairly small collection of computational science and applied mathematics courses that represents core knowledge in modern computational science.
  1. MATH 270A, B or C (Numerical Analysis; Not permitted for Math Students, who typically take MATH 270ABC as a normal mathematics qual course)
  2. MATH 271A, B or C (Numerical Optimization)
  3. MATH 272A, B or C (Numerical Partial Differential Equations)
  4. MATH 273A, B or C (Advanced Techniques in Computational Mathematics)
  5. MAE 223 (Computational Fluid Dynamics)
  6. MAE 232 / SE 276A, B or C (Computational Solid Mechanics)
  7. MAE 280A or B (Linear Systems Theory)
  8. MAE 294 / SIO 203A, B or C (Introduction to Applied Mathematics)
  9. PHYS 221 AB (Nonlinear dynamics)
  10. PHYS 243 (Stochastic Methods)
  11. SE 233 (Computational and Technical Aspects of Finite Element Methods)
  12. CHEM 285 (Introduction to Computational Chemistry)
  13. (Additional Courses To Be Determined by Executive Committee or Allowed by Petition)
CSME M.S. Program Policies: The following is a list of policies for the M.S. Program with regard to Qualifying Requirements:
  1. The qualifying exams must be passed by the end of the second year.
  2. M.S. students are encouraged to take courses in other disciplines.

Qualifying Examinations

M.S. students must pass the qualifying examination according to the timetables specified above. The exams consist of the final exam for the particular qualifying course. Satisfying the qualifying exam requirements consists of passing all three qualifying exams.


The M.S. in Computational Science does not have a thesis or dissertation option or requirement.

Final/Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive exam plan for the CSME M.S. degree requires that
  1. Each student pass a set of three qualifying exams as listed above and
  2. Each student write a short paper and make an oral presentation on a computational project to be completed as part of their course work in PHYS 141/241 and PHYS 142/242 OR pass a final comprehensive exam on the material in PHYS 141/241 and PHYS 142/242. Which of these options the student will be required to complete will be determined by the instructor in consultation with the Qualifying Exam Committee.

Time Limits

Normative Time to Degree: M.S. students are expected to complete their requirements within two years of admission into the program.

Relationship of the CSME M.S. Program with Existing Graduate Programs at UCSD

The CSME M.S. program is a stand-alone program, with no specific departmental affiliation. (The UCSD Mathematics Department functions purely as an administrative unit.) However, we expect that some students from the CSME M.S. Program will decide to continue their education and get a Ph.D. in a department offering a CSME specialization in Computational Science. The procedure for doing this is the same as for changing from any M.S. program to a Ph.D. program at UCSD, and generally involves a Graduate Petition (please contact the individual department involved).