Professional Master’s Program – Program Details

Degree Requirements & Curriculum

Degree Requirements

Refer to the UW-Madison Guide for degree requirements. 

Prior Coursework

A student may apply up to 14 credits of prior course work to meet PMP requirements and must complete at least 16 credits in the PMP (to meet the current residency requirement). 

Coursework in Other Departments

Students enrolled in the Professional Master’s Program are not allowed to enroll in courses in other departments. Exceptions need to be approved by a faculty advisor.

Advising Requirements

At the start of the program and each semester thereafter, students will need to submit a tentative plan of study to be approved by their assigned faculty advisor. Students are welcome to meet with their assigned faculty advisor to further discuss their program plan of study.

Course Offerings

PMP courses are offered Monday Through Friday between the hours of 8am and 5pm. Currently we do not offer online courses, all courses are offered in person at UW-Madison during the traditional working day.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the difference between the Professional Master’s Program and the traditional MS Program?

The two programs differ primarily in how they evaluate applicants and who qualifies to apply to which program. The department does not have a stand-alone regular MS program. Instead, applicants to the traditional MS program or the PhD program are automatically considered for admission to the combined MS/PhD program. This admission process is highly competitive and evaluates applicants based primarily on their potential to do research and complete a Ph.D. Those offered admission can exit with an MS degree or a PhD degree.

In contrast, the Professional Master’s Program (PMP) is a terminal MS program. It targets working professionals who want to pursue an MS degree to further educate themselves, obtain cutting-edge knowledge in the fast-moving IT field, apply what they learn to their jobs, and seek career advancement. Furthermore, the PMP admission process evaluates applicants primarily on their potential to complete a challenging MS program at UW–Madison, not on their potential to do research leading to a PhD degree.

What if once in the PMP program, I change my mind and want to work toward a PhD degree?

You would need to apply to the academic track in computer sciences in order to undertake a PhD. Strong applicants have completed at least two semesters of PMP coursework.

What kind of MS degree would PMP participants receive?

The department grants only one MS degree, with two named options leading to it: the traditional MS program and the Professional Master’s Program. PMP graduates will receive the exact same MS degree that students in the traditional MS program receive. The designation on the diploma will read “Master of Science—Computer Sciences.” The transcript, however, will list the named option that leads to the degree: “Master of Science—Computer Sciences, Major: Computer Sciences, Option: Professional Program.”

Can international students apply to the PMP?

Yes. We have a large number of international students in our regular MS/PhD program, and we welcome international applicants for the PMP.

I am an international student. May I participate in the program long-distance?

At the moment, our PMP does not yet support this option. You would need to be present on the Madison campus. If you accept our offer of admission, the Graduate School will send an I-20 form that you can use to apply for a visa to come to the UW–Madison campus to study.

Is the GRE required for the PMP application?

No, the Professional Master’s Program Committee made the decision in fall of 2022 to no longer require the GRE for PMP applications.

May I apply for financial aid?

Direct financial support from the CS Professional Master’s Program is not available. However, students can contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss federal loan programs and other lending opportunities. Students interested in financial assistance should call Student Financial Aid at (608) 262-3060.

Am I eligible for a graduate assistantship?

Students enrolled in the Professional Master’s Program in the Department of Computer Sciences may accept graduate assistantships (including those above 33.33%); however, they will not receive the tuition remission that is typically part of the compensation package for a graduate assistantship.

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Can I apply to both the traditional MS/PhD program and the PMP?

Yes. When you apply, you will eventually see a page titled “Program Selection,” with three options: traditional MS, PhD, and professional MS. You can select any combination of these three. If the combination that you select includes traditional MS or PhD, you will be evaluated for the traditional MS/PhD program (based primarily on your potential to do research and complete the PhD program, as mentioned earlier). If the combination that you select includes professional MS, you will be evaluated for the PMP (based primarily on your potential to complete the Professional Master’s Program).

If you are admitted into both programs, you may decide which one to attend.

Keep in mind that the deadline for the traditional MS or PhD is December 15, while the application deadline for PMP is March 15. If you apply after December 15, you will only be considered for the PMP. Applications received after this date for the traditional MS/PhD will not be reviewed.

How long does it take to complete the PMP?

A student taking two courses per semester can finish the PMP within two years. The program is designed such that two courses per semester constitutes a manageable workload for a working professional who attends the PMP part time. (Of course, both international and domestic students are welcome to attend the PMP full time.)

Can I do an internship during the PMP?

Yes. Our students in the traditional MS/PhD program have often applied for and completed internships during the summer following the first year of study. They have interned at numerous high-tech companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft, and many of them have received job offers even after the first year of study. We encourage our PMP students to apply for internships to deepen their academic knowledge and to gain further work experience. If you complete an internship in the summer after the first year of study, it can be counted toward CS 702 (Cooperative Education) credits. (See the program’s degree requirements).

How much does the program cost?

Costs are listed on the Tuition and Fees page of the Office of the Registrar. For an estimated cost, choose the most recent term and “Graduate or Most Capstone Certificates.”

What should be in my personal statement?

We use the personal statement (also known as “reasons for graduate study” or “statement of purpose”) to better understand your background in computer sciences, and to evaluate your potential to complete the Professional Master’s Program at UW–Madison. Any information you provide to help with the above goals is appreciated. If there is anything else you would like us to know, this is also the place to include it.

If I apply to both the regular MS and the PMP, do I have to submit two separate personal statements?

No. In this case, you may upload the same personal statement for both programs.

Whom should I contact if I still have questions?

We welcome further questions. Please contact our Professional Programs Coordinator.

Frequently Asked Questions - Admitted & Current Students

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When and where do I register for courses?

Enrollment is through Course Search and Enroll located in your MyUW account. To review directions on how to enroll, click here. Enrollment dates and deadlines can be found here:

How is it verified that I meet the prerequisites if I did my undergrad courses outside UW Madison?

Many courses will not need verification of prerequisite work since you meet the Graduate/Professional Standing. If that statement is present, then the course only looks for that status to grant enrollment permission.

How many 700 level courses are required?

What is the overall enrollment process for CS702 graduate cooperative education?

The first step is to obtain an internship, then contact your academic advisor along with the program coordinator. If you are an international student, you must first complete two consecutive terms of in-person instruction prior to enrolling in CS 702. Please review the CPT guidelines provided by International Student Services.

Does the CS department help with internships?

When job and internship opportunities are sent to CS faculty and staff, they forward that information on to graduate students through their email. Since the Professional Master’s Program does not require internships, students are responsible for finding their own internships.

How do I find out about opportunities to be hired as a departmental hourly employee?

The Department of Computer Sciences typically hires hourly students in reader/grader positions for fall and spring semesters.  An application is shared with PMP students via email when there is a need.

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What courses should I take?

Course selection can be discussed with your faculty advisor or program coordinator. Students can take a minimum of 2 credits per term to be an active graduate student or a maximum of 15 credits.  The PMP Committee recommends students take between 6 to 10 credits per semester.  If you are an international student it is required to enroll in a minimum of 8 credits per fall and spring term.

I am a new fall PMP student and noticed many CS courses are already full and waitlists have been started. Do I still have a chance to enroll in these courses?

Yes, the enrollment team manages enrollment and will be in contact with you through your email address when courses become available.

What is the seminar course CS 900?

CS 900 is a 1 credit Advanced Seminar Course in Computer Sciences, where students attend a minimum of 4 seminars that are offered by various groups in the department or department-wide colloquiums during the semester in which they’re enrolled in the course.  This course can be taken at most 3 times and counts towards the remaining credits received for courses at 400 level or higher.

Can I do an internship during a semester?

Yes, however if you are an international student, please follow the CPT guidelines.

How do I know what courses are offered in the next few semesters?

The Computer Sciences Department offers a wide variety of classes, and generally our most popular classes are offered every semester and occasionally in the summer. Many foundational courses are offered every semester.

Do you offer many courses in the evening?

Most CS courses are offered Monday through Friday between 8 am and 5 pm. The Department of Computer Sciences does teach two courses per term at Epic Systems in Verona, WI for the Professional Capstone students.

Professional Master's Program Manager

Janna Boehm

PMP/PCP/MSDE, Computer Sciences

Professional Programs Manager