Project Process


The process outlined below is intended to sync with the curriculum deadlines outlined in the CSS 595 and CSS 596 syllabi. It is the student’s responsibility to complete all departmental requirements below in addition to the requirements outlined in their 595 and 596 course syllabi. Failure to meet these requirements may impact a student’s intended graduation. CSS 595 and CSS 596 must be taken consecutively.   Please see the Graduate Advisor to ensure you are scheduling your courses to match the intended quarters the project courses are offered.

Step 1: Find a Project Advisor

Students who intend to pursue the Project option to complete their degree must find a CSS faculty member who will agree to supervise and support the student’s project work throughout the length of their project coursework (i.e. Project Advisor). Together with the Instructor for 595/596, the Project Advisor will serve as your resource and content expert as well as share grading responsibility with the course instructor for your project work. The Instructor for 595/596 and the Project Advisor form your Project Committee. You may include additional members on your Project Committee, such as a sponsor if your 595/596 project is done as an internship in an organizational context.  

Step 2: Get Approval for your Project Proposal

In order to register for 595 students must submit an approved Project Proposal form to the CSS Graduate Advisor to obtain an entry code.  A proposal should briefly address the goals of the project, and the methods used to fulfill these goals.  The Project Proposal Form and accompanying paperwork must be complete and have the signatures of both the 595 Instructor and the student’s Project Advisor for the project.

Step 3: File Formal Project Plan

By Friday of the fourth week of 595, the student must submit to the Instructor and Project Advisor a detailed project plan approved by their Instructor and Project Advisor. The plan should include an updated proposal of the work to be done, a timetable listing key milestones and associated deliverables, the software development lifecycle and processes by which you plan to do the project. There are no penalties for deviations in the approved plan or failure to meet the estimates in the time table. The project plan simply provides a well-defined start for the remainder of the project. The Instructor will send a copy of the approved plan to the CSS Graduate Advising Office. 

Step 4: Communicate Regular Progress Reports with Your Project Advisor & Instructor

Throughout the period of study in 595 and 596 students should schedule regular progress report meeting with both their Instructor and Project Advisor.  Reports should update committees on the challenges, changes, and overall progress of a student’s research. 

Step 5: Submit a Formal Status Update & Request Entry Code for 596

By the end of the ninth week a student is registered for CSS 595, the student must submit a one page update to their Project Advisor, detailing the current overall project plan, progress and intended outcomes. It is recommended that students meet with their Project Advisor at this time to discuss the progress of their project and to obtain permission to continue into CSS 596.

To request an entry code for CSS 596, students must submit a signed CSS 596 Course Registration Form to the CSS Graduate Advising Office.  The form must be signed by both the 595/596 Instructor AND the student’s Project Advisor before an add code will be issued.

Step 6: Master’s Degree Request

Sometime between the 1st day of the quarter to Sunday of the seventh week of the quarter the student intends to graduate, the student must file a Master’s degree request online via  For a large majority of students, this will be when they are registered for CSS 596. If students miss the deadline, they may submit a request until the Sunday (midnight Pacific Time) of the 9th week of the quarter they expect to graduate, if they pay a late fee. If degree requirements are not met in the requested quarter and/or students neglect to pay the late fee, they must submit another degree request for the quarter in which they expect to complete their degree requirements. When completing the Masters degree request, the CSS Program will automatically run a degree audit to inform the student of any unsatisfied Graduate School Requirements. Students must be registered for credits during the quarter they want to graduate.

Step 7: Schedule Project Defense

By Friday of the fourth week, a student is registered for CSS 596, a student must work with the 596 Instructor and the Project Advisor to schedule an individual Project Defense presentation of their culminating work on their project.  The Graduate Advising Office and the Instructor will work together to coordinate rooms and times for the defense.  Both the 596 Instructor and the Project Advisor must be present at the defense.

Step 8: Submit Draft Project Portfolio

At least three days before the Project Defense the student must submit a substantial draft of their Project Portfolio. The Project Portfolio contains a diverse set of artifacts and accompanying commentary that document the student’s accomplishments on their project. This portfolio will include a significant report that synthesizes all of this material and represents the importance of the student’s work, use of literature, technical approach, metrics, outcomes and discussion, next steps, etc. The purpose of the Project Portfolio is to demonstrate that the student has achieved a Masters level competence in computer science and software engineering. 

Step 9: Project Defense

The Project Defense is a 45-minute period that includes: (a) a public student presentation, (b) a public questions and answers session, (c) a closed-door question and answer session between the student and the Project Committee, (d) a brief private discussion among the Project Committee, and (e) the Project Committee announcing to the student the result of the Project Defense. If a student does not pass the Project Defense, the Project Committee will work with the student to decide upon the necessary additional work required for obtaining the Master of Science in CSSE degree.

Step 10: Submit Final Project Portfolio

By the last day of the quarter a student is registered for CSS 596, the student must submit a copy of their final Project Portfolio. This Project Portfolio might be put on the CSS websites to demonstrate what our Masters students are accomplishing.  The Instructor will send a copy of the final portfolio to the CSS Graduate Advising Office.

Step 11: Submit Project Video

By the last day of the quarter a student is registered for CSS 596, the student must submit a short video about their project. This video will be put on the CSS website to demonstrate what our Masters students are accomplishing.  The Instructor will send a copy of the project video to the CSS Graduate Advising Office.

Have Questions?

For questions on any of this information, or other matters, please contact the CSS Graduate Advisor.

(425) 352-5490


Project Defense Schedule
       Autumn 2014