MS Specialization (Computer Science)

The Computer Science MS specialization in security strives to produce students who

  • can assess which security-related threats to address in a computing problem
  • understand technical security vulnerabilities and technologies at at least two different abstraction levels within computing systems
  • appreciate behavioral and human factors in creating feasible security systems

Degree Requirements

In addition to the 33 graduate credits required for MS degrees in CS, the following apply:

Degree Requirements (Coursework Option)
Requirement Credits
Security Core 6
Security Electives (including Behavioral Dimensions) 6
Business/Management 3
Computer Science Bins 12
Electives 6
Total 33
Degree Requirements (Thesis Option)
Requirement Credits
Security Core 6
Security Electives (including Behavioral Dimension) 3
Business/Management 3
Computer Science Bins 12
Thesis 9
Total 33

Security Core

Courses covering two of software, systems/networks, and wireless/internet level security.  Current applicable courses are:

  • CS557 Software Security Design and Analysis   
  • CS558 Network Security   
  • ECE579W Wireless and Internet Security

Students with BS/MS credit for CS4401 Software Security Engineering or CS4404 Tools and Techniques in Computer Network Security may apply at most one of these courses towards the security core requirement for the MS specialization.

Security Electives

Includes all security-related courses offered in Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering. Up to three credits from thesis work on a security-related topic may count towards this requirement, with the approval of the specialization director. Current applicable courses are the security core courses as well as:

  • CS571 Case Studies in Computer Security  [satisfies Behavioral Requirement]
  • CS578 Cryptography
  • ECE673 Advanced Cryptography
  • CS564 Advanced Topics in Computer Security

At least one course counted towards security electives must provide significant coverage of behavioral dimensions of cyber security.   Permanent course offerings that satisfy the behavioral dimensions requirement are designated as such in their catalog descriptions.  The instructors of topics courses (CS525) and independent study courses may designate particular offerings as satisfying the behavioral requirement with the approval of the Specialization Director.


At least three credits in business or management issues that bear on security concerns.  Current applicable courses are:

  • MIS582 Information Security Management
  • OIE541 Operations Risk Management

Computer Science Bins

Courses as required to satisfy the breadth requirements (“bins”) for the CS MS degree.  Details appear in the CS MS degree requirements.


Any courses allowable within the requirements for CS MS degrees, including thesis credits.

Thesis Approval

If a student applies thesis credits towards a degree bearing the computer security specialization, his or her thesis topic must be approved as security-related by one of the core specialization faculty.  Theses need not be advised by core specialization faculty; in such cases, the reader should be one of the core specialization faculty.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in completing the Computer Security specialization must apply to and be admitted to a graduate program in the WPI Computer Science department.  There is no separate application process for the specialization.  Students interested in completing the specialization should complete a form through the CS graduate secretary as part of their application for graduation.  A student seeking to count MS thesis credits towards the security specialization should seek approval of their topic through the specialization director prior to completing six credits of thesis research.


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