CCS Offers Faster M.S. Degree for CS Students



A program within the College of Creative Studies is helping computer science majors earn their master’s as part of a five-year program and has so far enrolled two students.

Last May, the Academic Senate approved a five-year B.S./M.S. in computer science within the College of Creative Studies, allowing students within the college to get a master’s in one year instead of two, directly after graduation.

The new program was created to parallel an already existing one in the College of Engineering while avoiding bureaucratic restrictions preventing CCS students from enrolling, computer science professor Peter Cappello said.

The master’s program in computer science has previously been offered through the College of Engineering, but computer science majors within CCS had difficulty transferring from a different college. Computer science undergraduate courses within CCS are also structured differently from the ones offered through the College of Engineering.

“It’s entirely getting around red tape. We wanted those students in, we couldn’t get them in, so we created a department that enabled them to get in,” he said. “As a member of the faculty, I think the main advantage for UCSB is to have bright students stay here longer. It’s good for the computer science department as well because then we have more talented people helping us do research.”

CCS students can now get their computer science master’s in one year instead of a previous two-year program by taking graduate courses in the senior year and taking more classes once in the program, Cappello said.

“Creative Studies students will typically be taking graduate courses their senior year. I’ve known students who’ve taken graduate courses their first year. They often take huge amounts of units they don’t really need to graduate,” he said. “It just makes sense to apply those units to a degree.”

College of Creative Studies Provost William Ashby said that the CCS program differs from the CE one mostly during the undergraduate years.

“The master’s part isn’t different at all, but the B.S. is because it’s accelerated,” he said. “They’re getting the full knowledge of the field that one would expect of a major but with a lot of emphasis put on creativity and doing things in new ways.”

The master’s, which is offered through the College of Engineering, is also structured on courses taught in the CE not in CCS. Cappello said students could follow different options once admitted to the program.

“In a sense, the question is why would a person get involved in this program instead of, say, getting a master’s elsewhere, or finding a job or whatever,” he said. “The answer kind of has to do with efficient use of time and money.”

Derek Piasecki, a graduate student pursuing a master’s in computer science and currently the only student actively enrolled in the program, said he probably would not have chosen to come back to school without the flexibility offered.

“I’m a returning student. I left college and worked for a while,” he said. “The five-year program is nice because it allows you to do your master’s in just one year more. If I had to do it in two, I wouldn’t have.”

The CCS is considering other programs such as sociology, geology and a program combining art, literature and science, Ashby said. Though adding programs has been discussed, there has been no active planning.

Approximately 250 students are enrolled in CCS, which is about 1 percent of UCSB’s undergraduates.

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