MS Requirements

Minimum and Core Credit Requirements

Minimum credit

30 credits for courses numbered 300 or above:

  • receive a satisfactory grade for all credits, and
  • earn a GPA of at least 3.00.

24 of the 30 credits must be for CS courses above 400 (excluding CS 400), and:

  • at least 15 are core credits,
  • none are for seminar courses,
  • none are for individual instruction courses other than CS 790,
  • the credits for CS 790 are either
    • at most 3, for a project for which a report has been filed with the Department and approved by at least one full-time CS faculty member, or
    • at most 6, for a master’s thesis that has been submitted as a departmental tech report and approved by a properly-formed thesis committee.

Courses cross-listed with CS are acceptable for the purposes of this requirement. Non–CS courses cannot be counted toward the 24 credits.

Core credit

Core credit is assigned for:

  • every CS course numbered 700 or above, other than individual instruction courses, seminar courses, and topics courses, provided the grade received is on the A-F scale,
  • CS 790, provided the instructor explicitly declares so, and
  • one CS topics course numbered 700 or above, provided the grade received is on the A-F scale and that particular offering is explicitly designated by the instructor as a core course.

To be designated as core, an offering should have a fairly broad coverage and be lecture-style. The latter excludes individual instruction courses and seminar-style courses.

Graduate Course Information

Topics courses

Topics courses have syllabi that may change significantly from one offering to another.  They can be taken multiple times for credit, although their use for the MS is limited.

The topics courses are: CS 638, CS 703, CS 758, CS 837, CS 838, CS 839 and CS 880. (In fall 2017, the course number 839 was created.)

At most one of these can used for core credit, subject to the following rules. Any CS 839 is approved for core credit. Any CS 838 offered Fall 2017 or later is not approved for core credit.  Other topics courses may be used for core credit if they have been approved by the instructor.

Seminar courses

The seminar courses offered by the CS Department are CS 900 and CS 915. Seminar courses can be taken multiple times for credit.

Individual instruction courses

These are courses with middle digit 9. Individual instruction courses are intended for directed study, independent study, research, and project or thesis work.

Thesis courses

These are courses with last two digits 90. They are intended for project and thesis work.

Optional Project or Thesis: CS 790

Students may choose to write a master’s thesis or project report. The responsibility for finding a thesis or project advisor lies solely with the student; the Department does not guarantee that an advisor will be provided. The advisor must be a full-time or affiliate faculty member of the Department. The student should discuss the choice between a project report or a master’s thesis ahead of time with the instructor, and have a clear understanding of the expectations.

By default, CS 790 does not count toward core credit. If the advisor deems the particular project or thesis should count towards core credit, the advisor should notify the Graduate Program Coordinator by email. The Graduate Program Coordinator handles all administration regarding CS 790, including the approvals involved.

Master’s Thesis

A master’s thesis (6 credits) is expected to be a substantial piece of work, e.g., a comprehensive survey of a particular area. In contrast to a doctoral thesis, a master’s thesis need not contain original research work, but might well serve as a basis and major first step toward subsequent doctoral work. There are no rules regarding the format of a master’s thesis, but students should consult the Graduate School’s Guide to Preparing Your Master’s Thesis. The thesis committee consists of the advisor and at least two more members; at least one of the additional members must be a fulltime faculty member of the Department. The thesis needs to be published as a departmental technical report. In addition, the thesis may be deposited to Memorial Library.

Project Report

A project report (3 credits) simply describes a project carried out under the supervision of a faculty member. The report should be submitted in electronic form to the Graduate Program Coordinator. The report is kept on file in the department but is not made public.

Adding a Second Major

The Department of Computer Sciences will consider applications from graduate students who have uniformly excellent graduate records in CS courses for addition of the CS major, with the intention of completing a second master’s degree, in CS. The following conditions must be met:

1. Submit a letter from their major department attesting to their status in that program, indicating the expected completion date for their terminal degree.

2. Have obtained grades of AB or better in at least three CS courses numbered 500 or above in three different areas of computer science. At least one of these courses must be at the 700 level (not including CS 900). These courses must have been taught by a CS department faculty member.

3. Have two letters of recommendation from CS department faculty members, at least one must come from a core CS faculty member. These letters should attest to the student’s satisfactory performance in CS courses completed to date, and their ability to complete a master’s degree in CS.

4. At least one of the courses for requirement #2 must have a significant amount of programming in a structured language. This requirement is waived for students who have taken CS 367 (which does not count toward the master’s  in CS).

5. Provide a completed add/change major form and their student record to the CS graduate coordinator, along with the other application materials described above.

Note that a student in dissertator fee status who is admitted to the CS master’s program loses his or her dissertator fee status. Dissertators who add a program or a certificate program must enroll and pay fees as a regular graduate student. This is a Graduate School rule.

Meeting these requirements guarantees that your application will be considered for admission to the program. However, it does not guarantee admission.

Applications for second major MS in Computer Sciences are accepted three times during each academic year, with deadlines of (a) one week before the start of classes in the Spring term (for admission in Spring term), (b) the last day of classes in Spring term (for admission in Summer term), and (c) one week before the start of classes in the Fall term (for admission in Fall term).

There are no retroactive admissions. Decisions concerning admissions will normally be made within two weeks of each application deadline.

Students should also check the Graduate School requirements for a double degree. Note that in order to obtain an MS in Computer Sciences students must fulfill the requirements stated in the CS Graduate Guidebook (PDF).