The Master of Computer Science (Distance Education) program is a terminal professional degree program designed primarily to meet the needs of working professionals. The MCS-DE program is available to students residing in the United States†, and to military personnel serving abroad. The degree is based on course work only; no thesis or comprehensive examination is required. MCS-DE students typically take one or two courses a semester.
Courses are provided in streaming video form over the Internet through the Engineering Online program. Course work and results are exchanged electronically, and exams are taken (under properly proctored conditions) at the student's site. Student's have the same access and privileges that on-campus students enjoy, and are encouraged to interact fully with their instructors and fellow students. Courses in most cases are simply recorded versions of on-campus courses, and as such have exactly the same content and requirements as would be experienced by any other graduate student. MCS-DE students may, if they so desire and are able, attend on-campus courses as well. The diploma and transcript indicate the degree is simply the Master of Computer Science, regardless of whether the student attends on campus or through Distance Education delivery.
Full details of the Master of Computer Science degree may be found here. The requirements and instructions for the Distance Education version are the same, with only one small difference. Unlike the on-campus MCS students, MCS-DE students are not required to attend colloquia. Instead, they must register for the DE section of the Computer Science Graduate Orientation course (CSC600, section 601), which includes a selection of research presentations, and research papers written by faculty in the Department of Computer Science.
† DE programs at NC State are not available to residents of Minnesota, due to regulations of that state.