A Welcome Message from the Computer Science Department Chair

Cyrus Shahabi, Professor and Chair

Welcome to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering Department of Computer Science. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with our outstanding team both as a faculty member within the department since 1996 and, more recently, as the department chair since 2017.

At the Department of Computer Science, we are committed to extending the frontiers of knowledge, developing technology for good, and advancing education with real-world impact. Our world-class faculty members are on top of their game and we are very proud of our track record of excellence in both teaching and research.

With more than 90 faculty members, 360 PhD students, 2,000 master’s students and 1,200 undergraduates, the Department of Computer Science boasts incredible depth and breadth in an array of topics. Our four key research areas comprise artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, privacy and security; systems, databases, software engineering and cyberphysical systems; theory and computation; and computer vision, graphics, robotics and human-computer interaction.

The department also offers one of the best environments for interdisciplinary research and international collaboration in the nation and our faculty’s diverse interests are reflected in our educational programs. There are numerous programs and projects to highlight, so I will mention just a few.

With our colleagues in School of Cinematics Arts, we offer USC Games, recognized as one of North America’s top game design programs, according to the Princeton Review. Our department is also home to the USC Viterbi Data Science Program—an undergraduate program offered jointly with the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences—which focuses utilizing data to tackle real-world problems in academia, industry and government.

In addition, the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society (CAIS), a partnership with the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, conducts research in artificial intelligence to help solve the most difficult problems in the world, from eradicating HIV among homeless youth to developing AI for disaster planning.

The demand for places in our undergraduate program continues to be high. Our current undergraduate count amounts to more than 1,200. Undergraduate students have the opportunity, among many others, of taking classes on AI for social good, experimenting with cloud-computing, and programming an array of robots— from underwater robots that track ocean health to socially-assistive robots to help the elderly and people with autism gain more independence.

We also excel outside the classroom, earning top spot in the online education realm, according to US News and World Report. In 2019, USC’s online graduate program in computer science was ranked No.1 for the seventh consecutive year. The good news continues beyond graduation, with the Department of Computer Science ranking 4th in Silicon Valley alumni hires (right behind Stanford, Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon University).

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

These are exciting times for computer scientists. At the department, we now stand at the precipice of many next-generation innovations, from making self-driving cars safer on the roads, to using AI to detect Alzheimer’s and other disorders, to developing systems for more sustainable farming. To prospective scholars and students, I hope you consider joining us on this journey. To all our students, we in the Computer Science Department look forward to working with you to make your USC Viterbi School education a unique 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.