A Welcome Message from the Computer Science Department Chair


Cyrus Shahabi, Professor and Chair

Welcome to USC’s Department of Computer Science

At the USC Department of Computer Science, we are committed to extending the frontiers of knowledge, developing technology for good, and advancing education with real-world impact. Established in 1968, the department has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years. Our student population has tripled since 2011, now boasting more than 80 faculty members, 300 doctoral students, 2,500 master’s students and 1,300 undergraduates.

With this tremendous expansion, we are delighted that the department will soon have a new state-of-the-art home—a 116,000-square-foot structure on campus, thanks to a lead gift from dedicated USC supporters, Charlotte and Allen Ginsburg. This groundbreaking new facility will bring together computer science students, researchers and experts from disciplines across the university, as they collaborate on pressing issues like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, human trafficking and homelessness.

An excellent measure of the quality of any department is its ability to recruit outstanding junior faculty. In the past two years, we have hired six new tenure-track assistant professors. A testament to the quality of our new faculty members and their contributions, during the past decade, nearly every new assistant professor has won the highly prestigious NSF CAREER Award. An equally good measure is the national recognition of its faculty. The department now boasts 5 National Academy of Engineering members, 17 IEEE Fellows, 15 AAAI Fellows, a Simons Fellow, and a Turing Award winner, in addition to many other recognitions bestowed on our faculty.

Our commitment to innovative research and teaching has paid off with recognition as one of the country’s leading computer science departments. For nine consecutive years, we have ranked among the top five in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for best online master’s programs in information technology. The USC Games program, offered in collaboration with USC’s School of Cinematics Arts, has been recognized by Princeton Review as North America’s top game design program for undergraduates. Finally, this year, computer science at USC was ranked 10 in the world and 9 in the nation by Guide2Reasearch.

Connecting with industry is also a key driver for the department. The Computer Science (CS) Department Industry Affiliate Program (IAP), which was launched in fall 2018, provides engagement opportunities with our exceptionally talented students, world-class faculty, and innovative researchers in an array of disciplines. Current members include Google, Lyft, DiDi and Microsoft.

I strongly believe computer science is key to finding innovative solutions to the most complex problems facing society today, accelerating breakthroughs and forging new advances and ideas that will benefit humanity. And this is true now more than ever. I am so proud of our community for collaborating, innovating and delivering impactful research during such extraordinary times. In the past year, our professors and students have modeled and predicted the toll of COVID-19, developed privacy-first contact-tracing technology and identified vaccine misinformation on social media—to name just a few.

Despite social-distancing measures and limited campus access, our students stayed connected, working on crucial topics such as fighting gender-bias in online advertising, reimagining technology for people with disabilities, and developing AI to diagnose cancer. A team of undergraduate students also reached the final round of the XPRIZE Pandemic Response Challenge.

Now, thanks to the arrival of vaccines, there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. As we navigate this “new normal,” the future of computer science graduates is brighter than ever, with science and technology playing a vital role in building a better, more just, future for all.

To prospective scholars and students, I hope you consider joining us on this journey. To all our new students, we in the Department of Computer Science look forward to working with you to make your education a unique and rewarding experience.

I invite you to explore some of the highlights of the cutting-edge work undertaken by our department’s faculty members on our news page. You can also find detailed information about all of our degree options, courses, faculty and research throughout this website.