USC Viterbi - School of Engineering

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Master of Science in Computer Science with Specialization in Computer Security

Program Description: 
The M.S. in Computer Science (Computer Security) is program created in response to a direct need specified by both industry and government. This unique degree highlights courses relevant to the practice of computer security research, development and deployment, and the secure operation of computer systems. Topics include development of systems that enforce security; cryptography and statistical analysis of attacks; and implementation and management of systems that depend on security technologies for correct operation.
Application Info: 

Application Criteria

An undergraduate degree in engineering, math or hard science from a regionally-accredited university.

Applicants whose background is not in computer science may consider the M.S. in Computer Science (Scientists and Engineers).

Satisfactory cumulative undergraduate GPA (grade point average)
Satisfactory GRE test scores. All scores must be officially reported to the university directly by ETS.
Substantial background in computing constitutes a minimum requirement.
Apply Online:

Application Materials for All Applicants

USC Online Application: All applicants must complete and submit the USC Online Application.
Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, sealed by the institution.

By regular mail (ONLY):

University of Southern California
USC Office of Graduate Admission
3601 South Flower Street, Room 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

By courier service, such as DHL or FedEx:

University of Southern California
USC Office of Graduate Admission and Financial Aid
3601 South Flower Street, Tyler 1
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915 
(213) 740-1111

By electronic transcripts:

USC also now accepts official electronic transcripts, provided they meet the following guidelines:

  • The transcript originates from a secure site formally linked to the sending institution.
  • The school is located in the United States. We do not accept electronic transcripts from any institution overseas.

Please instruct the vendor to email the transcript to Do not send any materials or correspondence to this email address yourself. To avoid delays, do not provide vendor with any other email.

GRE General Test: Satisfactory scores less than five years old. Official scores must be reported from ETS directly to USC using ETS school code 4852. A department code is not required.
Letters of Recommendation (Optional): Letters of recommendation should be from faculty or others (supervisors, professional colleagues, etc.) qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study. 
Statement of Purpose (Optional): The statement of purpose should describe succinctly your reasons for applying to the proposed program at the Viterbi School of Engineering, your preparation for this field of study, study interests, future career plans, and other aspects of your background and interests which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study.

Additional Application Materials for International Applicants

English Language Proficiency: In addition to the general admission criteria listed above, international students whose first language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or IELTS examination to be considered a candidate for admission.  There is no minimum TOEFL or IELTS score required for admission to the Viterbi School. For possible exemption from additional language requirements, you must achieve an Internet Based TOEFL (iBT) score of 90, with no less than 20 on each section or an IELTS score of 6.5, with no less than 6 on each band score. For more details on English Proficiency Criteria for the University of Southern California, please visit USC Graduate Admission - Proficiency in English.
Program Details: 
Please Note: Requirements for graduation, course offerings, course availability, track offerings and any other degree requirements are subject to change.  Students should consult with an academic advisor prior to registering for any classes.
A minimum of 28 units is required for the M.S. in Computer Science (Computer Security) degree.
1 required general Master’s course: 3 units
6 required Computer Security courses: 19-20 units
Elective Computer Networks courses: 6-10 units (consult with an advisor before enrolling in elective courses).
A maximum of 4 units may be taken from approved 400-level courses in either Electrical Engineering or Computer Science; the remaining units must be approved courses at the 500 or 600 level.
A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 is required for graduation.
**Students who began their program prior to Fall 2013 may take up to 9 units of approved 400-level courses.
Available Online: 

This program is also available online to professional engineers through the Distance Education Network (DEN@Viterbi). Because the DEN@Viterbi program provides a fully equivalent academic experience, the degree a USC engineering student earns is the same whether they are on-campus or online.

If you are interested in beginning classes as a DEN@Viterbi student next semester, explore the requirements and steps to enrolling as a Limited Status Student

More information about DEN@Viterbi

DEN@Viterbi Online Course Offerings

The following courses and program requirements serve as program planning for DEN@Viterbi students. Course offerings and availability are subject to change. Please consult with advisor if you have any questions.

Required Computer Security Courses

6 Courses - 19-20 units total.  Students may take CSCI 577a or CSCI 578
CSCI 530 | Security Systems 
CSCI 531 | Applied Cryptography
CSCI 551 | Computer Communications
CSCI 555 | Advanced Operating Systems
CSCI 570 | Analysis of Algorithms
CSCI 577a | Software Engineering (OR CSCI 578)
CSCI 578 | Software Architecture (OR CSCI 577a)
Required General Masters Course
Students must take one of the following courses: CSCI 561, CSCI 564, CSCI 573, or CSCI 574 - 3 units total.
CSCI 561 | Foundations to Artificial Intelligence (OR CSCI 564, 573, or 574)
CSCI 564 | Brain Theory and A.I. (OR CSCI 561, 573, or 574)
CSCI 573 | Probabilistic Reasoning (OR CSCI 561, 564, or 574)
CSCI 574 | Computer Vision (OR CSCI 561, 564, or 573)

Elective Courses

Students must take two of the following elective courses: CSCI 556, CSCI 571, or CSCI 585 - 6 units total.
CSCI 556 | Introduction to Cryptography
CSCI 571 | Web Technologies
CSCI 585 | Database Systems