Professional Master’s Program – Admissions FAQ

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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.

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 are not allowed to accept research assistantships, teaching assistantships, project assistantships or other University appointments that grant waivers of tuition and/or academic fees anywhere on campus. Accepting an assistantship or tuition waiver while enrolled in the program may lead to removal of the student from the Professional Master’s Program in Computer Sciences. Corporate tuition support is not included in these categories, nor is the waiver of tuition due to veteran status.

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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 799 (independent study) 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 Academic Year 2018–19, tuition is $796.10 per credit for Wisconsin residents and $1,629.03 per credit for non-residents (including international students). Since the program is 30 credits, residents pay on average $4,776 per semester (assuming 5 semesters: fall and spring for Year 1 and Year 2, and the summer in between), or $23,880 for the whole program. Non-residents pay on average $9,774 per semester, or $48,870 for the whole program.

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.