The department offers both an MS amd MCS degree. I strongly recommend the MCS degree.

To obtain the MCS degree you simply need to meet the course requirements. This can be done in 2 years. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in research projects, but this is not required and research credits (independent study credits such as CS 695 and 699) do not count toward the MCS.

The MS degree has a similar course requirement, but students can count 8 units of research credits toward their degree. This reduces the course load by 2 classes when compared to the MCS degree. However an MS student must write and defend a thesis. In other words you take fewer courses, but have the added requirement of the thesis.

Opinions vary, but my opinion is that the MCS is a much better choice. I personally see very little value in the MS thesis. An MS thesis should take considerably than more one semester and good research can rarely be tightly scheduled. In my view the thesis takes longer compared with simply taking two more courses for the MCS. More importantly, I have never encountered a case where an employer or even doctoral program offered a position based on an MS thesis. The MS thesis takes you more time and does not produce a more valuable result, in my opinion.

I strongly encourage every masters student to become involved in a research project and publish a paper. I have seen cases where publications have made a tremendous difference. Publications in respectable conferences and workshops will certainly be meaningful if you later apply to a Ph.D. Program. Employers may also be impressed with published work. I strongly encourage you to publish a paper while pursuing an MCS degree.

If you are not able to publish a paper on the work, then the work should not count as an acceptable MS thesis. If you are able to publish your results, that publication is far more valuable than an MS thesis. I recommend you focus on developing and publishing good research.