Regulations and Procedures

This section covers specific policies of the Computer Science Department and makes reference to some of the most important governing policies and procedure of the Graduate School,, but this Computer Science Handbook does not attempt to duplicate the statement of all Graduate School policies.

The Graduate School takes deadlines very seriously. All Graduate School key academic and administrative deadlines and starting dates are listed at

Course Loads

A full-time student will usually carry three courses in fall and spring semesters. Students can also choose to be part-time. This is an academic policy. Be sure to see if you have separate constraints due to a loan program for domestic students or due to federal visa policy for international students.

We do not encourage students to take more than 3 courses a term, and you should contact the Graduate Program Director if you need to take more than 3 courses in a term for any reason. It is explicitly prohibited to enroll in more than 3 courses to hold a space in a course. Many of our courses fill up quickly, so you should only register for courses that you truly plan to complete. No one is allowed to take more than 12 credit hours in Fall or Spring.

This means most students finish the program in 16 months: Three fall/spring semesters for 9 of the courses, and the intervening summer for one course. Some students take an extra summer course, leaving a reduced load for the last semester, when it may be particularly convenient to devote time to a job or job search.


Both new and continuing students must complete the process of registration before every semester in which they are either enrolling in classes. Also there is a special course conferring full-time registration for MS Computer Science students opting to complete a thesis and who are only writing a thesis that semester. For details on choosing courses see Course Selection and Advising below.

Students must maintain continual registration throughout their years in the program unless they explicitly apply for and are approved for a Leave of Absence. You must also announce your decision to come back from a Leave of Absence with an email to the Associate Dean of the Graduate School. Only after the Graduate School accepts your letter announcing your plan to return, will you be allowed to register for classes. Forgetting this can cause lots of hassle and delay in registration for the semester when you do wish to resume.

After registration opens you can register yourself through LOCUS for most courses with just your student ID number.

New students should get course advising first from the department, and all others are welcomed to get advising from their advisor listed in Locus.

You cannot register yourself for Comp 490 or 499 as both require permission of the GPD or instructor of record. See sections Independent Study and Internships (COMP 499).

In any course where there is a note about consent or permission required, you must make a direct emailed request to the department, clearly stating the course and section (if more than one is offered) and semester, and number of credits if that is variable. If you are asking for a course that requires permission of the instructor, please add your direct request to an approving email that you forward from the instructor. The department then gives consent and does your registration administratively. Within a few days you should confirm in Locus that your request was correctly entered.

It is in your best interest to register early, to get into sections you want. Registration blocks can get in your way. Common examples are an immunization block, a Dean of Students data block, a conditional admission block, or a bursar block. Students have been given late fees or had a lot of trouble due to delay from such blocks. One misleading feature in LOCUS is that all MS students have a Dean’s time limit block, but it does not activate until you have been an MS student for five years - do not worry about that one.

You are strongly encouraged to check in Locus weeks before registration opens, to see if a block appears, and get it addressed so it will not delay your registration.

In Locus you can see the kind of block that is present by clicking on the red blocked symbol (a slash mark through a circle). Do check.

The only block that the GPD has power to address is a probation block, and that requires you to contact the GPD and have a talk. Asking for department help for other blocks is only going to waste everyone’s time. Instead deal with the office that added and controls the block: wellness center, Dean of Students, GPEM, bursar....

Blocks can also suddenly appear later, so check again a few days before registration opens. Also, you may want to swap courses while it is still allowed in the first week of classes. Shortly before classes start, also check for a block.

Course Selection

Even before you get access to our registration system, you can still look for courses you are interested in.

Some time before registration opens there should be a link under labeled with the name of the upcoming semester with a detailed list of courses to be offered.

Before that, or looking further ahead, you can look at the long-term schedule, showing what courses are planned for what semesters: This is particularly useful if you find too many courses that interest you for a given semester: look at the long-term schedule to see which of those courses you could defer until it is offered again.

Detailed descriptions of most of these courses are in

Comp 271 is the prerequisite for most graduate courses, but Comp 413, Intermediate Object-Oriented Programming, is a prerequisite for the most advanced software courses. Many students, with even a strong undergraduate computer science background, have not had the subject matter described in If you are in either the MS in SE or CS program, and have not had much of this material, it is a good course to start with (offered every fall and spring, and likely summer), since it is required of both programs, and you want to be able to later get into the courses that have it as a prerequisite. IT students who want to mix in more software-centric electives should also consider Comp 413.

Note, SE and CS students with prior experience with the Comp 413 material can replace the Comp 413 course requirement: after consulting with your advisor, substitute one of the courses which has Comp 413 as a prerequisite.

Caution to Computer Science program students: Comp 460 is required, and it is not offered every semester: You may not be able to defer it! Make sure you have arranged a place in your plans that fit with the semesters that it is offered and following your prerequisite preparation in algorithms.


Newly admitted students should first consult with the Graduate Program Director before registering for courses. A discussion with the GPD is particularly important if there is any question of a student’s prerequisite preparation.

Before the next registration period, you should be provided an individual faculty advisor for the rest of your studies. This advisor should be listed in Locus. Later registration choices should be taken up with your advisor.

Online Courses

While the majority of our courses are face to face in regularly scheduled class sessions (likely with some online interaction), other courses can be done totally online. The learning objectives and outcomes of online courses are the same as for face-to-face classes, but obviously with a somewhat different delivery.

There are many models that an instructor can choose for online: Parts can include recorded video presentations, synchronous whole-class sessions, synchronous small-group sessions, 1-1 with instructor online, threaded discussions, wiki contributions, totally asynchronous involvement as long as you are active each day, ....

There should be notes in the course list beside an online course. Unfortunately if you look directly in Locus, you do not see it with the course title, but need to click on the section link. If you want more details about the format, contact the instructor.

The long-term schedule includes an indication of what courses to expect to be online.

At least part-time completion of an online MS IT degree is possible, though it will restrict elective options, and only some tracks can be completed full-time.

If you are only taking courses online, you would do well to be in the program with code ITEO-MS (IT Entirely Online). This will give you an advantage in signing up for online courses before other students.

F-1 visa students: Note that in the semesters that you are supposed to be full-time, you may have only one online course, and at least one course must not be online. If you are not required to be in school in a semester (commonly summer), there are no restrictions. Please confer with the Office of International Programs for details and confirmation.

Independent Study

If you are doing an independent project for Comp 490, you need to find a faculty member to supervise your project and have the faculty supervisor email the department secretary to register you. This does not generally make sense in your first semester but is possible in exceptional circumstances. It helps if you and the faculty member are familiar with each other. Talk to your instructors outside of class, and take advantage of community seminars and events to meet and get to know faculty! It is particularly helpful when you want to do something that the professor already wants done. At the other end of the spectrum, a student might just propose something that sounds interesting to a potential faculty supervisor who knows the student is self-motivated. Or a project could end up somewhere in between: something the professor is interested in, with a particular twist that appeals to the student....

The typical approach is for the student to meet with the faculty member and then confirm the details of the agreement in an email to the faculty supervisor, being sure to include the exact semester and credit hours that your have agreed on. The supervisor then forwards the email with his or her approval to the graduate secretary, so she can register you. Your agreement does not go to the GPD, unless you will end up with a total of more credits of 490+499 than the normal 6 credit limit.

These courses are for 1-6 credits. See the section below on variable hour courses. We rarely allow students to take more than 6 total credits in their overall program for the sum of Independent Study and Internships, but do allow further high-level independent study in exceptional circumstances.

In most cases, we recommend that you and your independent study advisor fill out a request for course title form, which is available at The Graduate Program Director must sign this form. This is very useful when someone else is reading your transcript: Plain “Independent Study” on your transcript is totally uninformative!

Internships (COMP 499)

First, you need to find a job for the period of the Internship. There are online, searchable listings through the university career center, (The Computer Science department also maintains an informal jobs list at When you find a job, contact the GPD and get your job description approved. Internships are for 1-6 credits. See Variable Credit Courses.

Download the MOU Form, read it, print, fill out both pages, and return. Please read this carefully before asking questions of the GPD. It contains a description of the details of your academic requirements for the course. You will also need your job supervisor’s signature. Get the finished form to the GPD, so we can register you for the course for the proper number of credits. Please do not ask us to register you if you are not simultaneously submitting the completed MoU.

The form can be scanned and emailed or turn in paper to the department staff. If you are doing Curricular Practical Training (For F-1 students), turn in the CPT form at the same time.

There are three related but different terms: job, internship, and CPT, Curricular Practical Training (For F-1 students). You can have a job and not have it be an internship for academic credit, or you can have a job that goes on longer than an academic internship. Also if you are doing an academic internship, your job employer does not need to classify your position as “internship”. If you are doing an academic internship, the MOU indicates only two small requirements for your employer during your time in the academic internship: The bulk of your duties must be related to doing computer science in the real world, and the supervisor will write a few line email at the end of the time of the academic internship indicating your successful completion of all the hours required for the academic internship.

Curricular Practical Training (For F-1 students)

You should consult with the Office for International Programs(OIP) for the full legal details of CPT.

Here are a few of the important points. If you get a job on campus, like the considerable number of students who have worked for Loyola’s Information Services, you do not need to be doing CPT and no CPT restrictions apply. If you want to work off campus for pay, then you need to be doing CPT, and there are a number of requirements.

First of all, you need to have been a full-time F-1 student anywhere in the United States for two semesters. Optionally, this could include F-1 Summer Full-time Status.

To start CPT you must get an application submitted in one of two routes. In both cases with the CPT application you should provide a written job offer (which can be an email) from the prospective employer. The completed CPT application must be delivered to the International Office, and they will issue the work permit. The form to start CPT can be found here.

The CPT can be tied to an academic course in either of two ways. You get a GPD signature on the CPT application differently in the two cases. Be sure to completely fill out the form except for the GPD signature and date before looking for a signature! Do not leave the GPD to guess which of the two options you want:

  • You can take the Comp 499 course specifically for Internships (COMP 499), with the regular tuition charge per credit. Get the form with your MOU and job offer to the GPD, and the GPD will get the application completed and forwarded to the OIP with the job offer.
  • For no extra tuition you can generally tie it to a course you are already planning to take. There is a section of the CPT application for this. You can pair the internship with a course in the same semester, or pair a fall course and an internship in the previous summer. If you do the no-extra-tuition option, you are able to work but you get no further credit toward graduation. You may need to send the CPT form and job offer to the OIP yourself.

Students generally scan and email the CPT form to the GPD, making sure the option chosen above is clearly indicated.

F-1 Summer Full-time Status

F-1 visa students who do not start in summer, do not need to study at all in the summer as long as they are full-time in each fall and spring until they finish. For them, summer courses are optional. (In the semester that you finish up, you are automatically full-time, even if you have only 1-2 courses left, though the GPD does need to confirm with the OIP when your 1-2 courses allow you to finish.)

F-1 students starting in summer do need to be classified as full-time. Also students who start in spring may find it convenient to be full-time in summer to allow Curricular Practical Training (For F-1 students) to start a semester earlier than otherwise.

To have summer count automatically as full time for an F-1 student, you can take 9 credits in total among all the different summer sessions. This is hard to do for two reasons: It is a lot of work to cram 3 courses into 12 weeks, and we offer a limited number of courses in summer, so it may be hard to fit your interests with 3 courses. These restrictions allow for a possible opening: With permission from the GPD and OIP, you can get a waiver so you are allowed to take fewer courses (generally 2) and still be counted as full-time. You can ask the GPD to approve this reduction in summer because of the issues listed above.

Be sure to check with the OIP for the exact current details and correct forms to ask the GPD to sign.

Variable Credit Courses

Comp 490 and 499 are for 1-6 credits. Up to 6 credits total can be counted toward graduation, counting all the times you register for these two courses. (In practice that usually means 3 or 6 credits since all other courses are 3 credits.) You do not need to take a multiple of three credits at a time. What matters is the total, when it is time to graduate.

Graduate School of Business Courses (GSB)

Our students can sometimes get into GSB courses. They broaden the Computer Science offerings and let you take GSB courses at the Graduate School’s much lower tuition rate.

Unless a GSB course has specifically been mentioned as being allowed to count toward our department’s MS degrees, but sure to check first with the GPD.

There are a number of special considerations coming from the fact that GSB courses are quarter courses. They have the same holidays as in The Graduate School semester system, but exam times or term start times or both are different. Because of the different term starting times, and the fact that GSB students have priority in their school’s courses, it is usually only practical to consider fall and summer GSB courses, when the term starts are close. Our students generally need to wait until shortly beofre the term starts to be admitted to a GSB course with space in it. This means our students generally need a backup plan.

You cannot register yourself in any case: be sure to make a direct request to the GPD, close to the time the course starts, to see if there is space, and the GPD will arrange your registration through the GSB:

  1. Include a direct request like “Please register me for INFS 496 Section 001.” not an indirect question like “Would it be OK if I register for....?”
  2. Include your full name and Student ID number.
  3. Explicitly acknowledge the GSB’s different drop deadlines.
  4. It is also possible to request a swap for an alternate comflicting Comp course.

The time of dropping the course is crucial in determining its effect. Be aware of the GSB deadlines for getting the course dropped with no trace and the later deadline for avoiding tuition.


Degrees are conferred in May, August, and December. You must apply for graduation way in advance of graduation or the official conferral of your degree will be postponed. The GPD will not be able to appeal this for you. Note that there are only graduation ceremonies in May.

Deadlines: December 1 for Spring, February 1 for Summer graduation, August 1 for Fall graduation. See the discussion of ceremonies below if you want to participate in a graduation ceremony and you graduate in Summer or Fall.

Procedure: Go into Locus and submit your application for graduation by the deadline. That is all you need to do if you are on time. There is no penalty for guessing early about when you will graduate, but you will need to apply again for the actual time.

You can apply up to 15 days later, with a penalty fee and walking a piece of paper around: see In case the URL changes, it should be listed on the Graduate School Forms page under Late Application for Graduation.

Graduation Ceremonies are only in May: If you have only one course left for summer, you can ask to participate in the previous May graduation. This one course can be 490/499 for more than 3 credits. To do this you must apply for summer graduation by the deadline listed above and promptly email the GPD, asking for approval to walk in the May ceremony. If you graduate in the Summer or Fall, you can choose to return to participate in the following May graduation ceremony (unless you already participated in the previous May graduation, as discussed above).

Leave of Absence

Once you start graduate school, the default assumption is that you will be enrolled each fall and spring until you sign up for graduation and graduate. If you need to interrupt your studies before that, the Graduate School requires that you apply for a leave of absence through the gsps system, under student forms in

After being approved for a leave, you will need to notify the Associate Dean of the Graduate School of your intent to enroll before you can register for classes and resume study. See the address under Graduate School Offices.

If you neglect to request a Leave, the return process is longer and less sure: You need to fill out the Reinstatement form,, and return it to the GPD (preferably as an emailed electronic scan).


Besides the reinstatement form itself being filled out you need to return a document with two other parts:

  • The reason for your absence. (The form says reason for reinstatement - but it means reason for absence.)
  • Timeline to graduation: When you plan to be back and when you plan to finish.

Dropping a Course, Avoiding Extra Bills

You should always be able to withdraw yourself from the course in LOCUS, no matter how you got registered for a course: by yourself in LOCUS, by a request to the department staff, or off of a waiting list. If you are sure you want to withdraw from a course, do not waste time emailing the department for help, just do it yourself. The date that the withdrawal is entered into LOCUS affects whether you get a W on your transcript, and whether tuition is still due. Different dates apply. Be sure to look at the Academic Calendar for the given semester. Once you are registered, merely not attending class does NOT extend these dates.

  • Withdrawal with no trace: Generally by the end of the first week of full Fall and Spring semesters. Generally only through the first Tuesday of the semester for Summer session.
  • Withdrawal with only a W on the transcript, and no tuition due: Generally during the second week of Fall and Spring semesters. Sometime during the first week in summer sessions. Be sure to check the Academic Calendar at A W has no academic consequences. It is just a historical record of you changing your mind.
  • Withdrawal later during classes: W on the transcript and a partial or complete tuition penalty. Do not get yourself into this situation just by not paying attention!

Changing your chosen MS Program

It is easy to switch between our MS degree programs in the department. Through the gsps system under student forms in, find Change in Degree Seeking. You will need to include a statement about why you want to change the program. Do think carefully. The Dean is less likely to approve a request to return to your original program!

You are likely to need to select a program by Locus code, which are not all really informative:

  • ITEC: Information technology (allowing face-to-face)
  • ITEO: Information technology entirely online
  • SWEN: Software Engineering
  • COMP Computer Science

These all have alternatives ending with “D”, for dual, like SWEN-MS D: these are only for Loyola BS/MS students.

Transfer Credit

The GPD must initiate an approval of course transfer after the first month of classes but also before the end of your first semester. Email the GPD as a reminder, after the first month of classes and after we also have your transcript (and course by course evaluation for international credits - see Further International Transcript Credit Transfer Requirements). Do not delay! Your official transcripts need to show B or better in relevant courses. For conditionally admitted students, Loyola must already have the relevant official transcript.

Although official transcripts are needed to forward the request to the Grad School for final approval, you are welcomed to show unofficial transcripts to the GPD to see if you have appropriate courses (but still send a reminder when the official documents are in).

Note: All courses, including graduate courses in your first 4 years since the start of college, are considered part of your undergraduate education. Only if you do MS work past the four years of academic work can transfer credit be considered.

Further International Transcript Credit Transfer Requirements

International transcripts need only a general evaluation with GPA by ECE,, or Educational Perspectives,, for admission, but they need a course by course evaluation to transfer international graduate credit. If you are expecting to get transfer credit, it is most economical to ask for the course by course evaluation the first time transcripts are submitted to an evaluator.


The grading system used in the Graduate School is as follows:

Grading System
Grade Grade Points
A 4.00
A- 3.67
B+ 3.33
B 3.00
B- 2.67
C+ 2.33
C 2.00

Grades of C-, D or F are unfortunately possible. They cause enormous issues for two reasons:

  • They do NOT count as credits toward the MS degree
  • However, they ARE counted in the GPA - an enormous drag on the cumulative GPA!
Other Grading Codes
Grade Explained
I Incomplete
W Withdrawal
WF Withdrawal, Failure

For further information on Loyola’s grading policy, consult the Graduate School Catalog located here:

Graduate students in the Computer Science Department are expected to maintain an average of not less than B (3.0) during their course of study. Those who fail to meet this requirement may be dismissed by the Graduate School. No more than two grades of C or C+ can be counted toward the degree (while further such grades do drag down the GPA).

Incomplete Grade

Faculty may assign the grade of I to a student who has not completed the assigned work by the end of the term for some good reason. This grade is not assigned automatically. It is up to the student to explain the circumstances and work out a plan with the instructor before the end of the course, including a deadline, for completing the work for the course.

Under the Graduate School regulations, a student has one semester to complete the course (and summer counts as a semester!). If the student does not turn in the work by the deadline, the I grade will automatically become an F. Please read the new policy on the Graduate School web page at

Although it is not uncommon for graduate students to take an occasional Incomplete, it is of course better not to take an incomplete when possible. Making up an incomplete course often proves harder than students expect, particularly if much time has elapsed since the end of the course. In any case, faculty members have various policies regarding Incompletes, so it is advisable to discuss the matter with your instructor as early as possible if you anticipate the need for an Incomplete.

Academic Honesty

Although academic dishonesty can take many forms, in our field it manifests primarily as plagiarism of text or source code. The Graduate School Catalog defines plagiarism as “the appropriation for gain of ideas, language or work of another without sufficient public acknowledgment that the material is not one’s own.” As a graduate student, you very likely have a good understanding of the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not. If you are ever uncertain, it is of course best to consult your instructor, the GPD or another faculty member.

The penalty for an instance of plagiarism is, at a minimum, failure on the assignment, which may well be tantamount to failure in the course. A serious breach or a pattern of dishonesty can lead to expulsion from Loyola. Although quite rare in our department, cases have occurred in the past and have resulted in dismissal.

Grievance Procedure

Students, faculty, and administrators are strongly encouraged to resolve any problems they encounter in the academic process through informal discussion. If you are unable to resolve a problem with a member of the staff or faculty, or if you wish to lodge a formal complaint, you should first meet to discuss the matter with the GPD. If the problem cannot be satisfactorily resolved by the GPD, it will be taken up by the Department Chair. Unfortunately fully addressing a grievance within the department can take considerable time. The student must be patient. If a student is not satisfied with the decision within the department, then after the departmental decision, not earlier, the student may wish to initiate a grievance in writing to the Dean. Further information can be obtained from the Graduate School office.