Plus One Pathway to Professional Master’s in Computer Sciences

The direct path for UW–Madison Computer Sciences majors to quickly earn a professional master’s degree before entering the workplace.

Overview

The Plus One Pathway in Computer Sciences (POP) is for UW-Madison CS majors graduating in a fall semester who want to continue their CS journey directly into the Professional Master’s Program (PMP) the following spring, making them more competitive when they enter the workforce. POP students can earn their professional master’s degree in about 3 semesters, compared to the “standard” 2 years.

While earning your professional master’s degree, you can take coursework to specialize in particular areas such as network security, data analytics, software development, and artificial intelligence–all areas that are growing quickly.

Why POP?

UW–Madison Computer Sciences Lecture (CS 726 ). Instructor: Sharon Li

Technology is becoming more specialized and is advancing so rapidly that sometimes it feels like it’s changing day by day. With a professional master’s, you’ll be able to focus on one area, augmenting your more general undergraduate CS major.

A professional master’s gives you:

The POP program allows you to transition to a master’s degree immediately after graduation and earn your degree in a shorter amount of time!

How Does It Work?

Computer icon

UW-Madison CS undergraduates apply to the Plus One Pathway (POP) in the spring semester of their junior year*. Excellent academic standing is required with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 after completion of junior year.

 

Undergraduate students accepted into POP will be eligible for admission directly into PMP after fall semester graduation, assuming minimum GPA requirement is maintained.

POP students will be considered undergraduates until all bachelor degree and major program requirements are complete. Students are expected to finish their undergraduate degree and major requirements and earn their bachelor’s degree in December before transitioning into the graduate program. POP admits can start the Professional Master’s Program the spring semester directly following their December graduation. 

Students will be able to apply up to 7 undergraduate Computer Sciences coursework credits–level 400 or greater–toward the 30 credits for the MS in Computer Sciences: Professional Master’s Degree, which allows them to earn a master’s degree in about 3 semesters rather than 2 years.

Refer to the Guide for degree requirements.

*On this page, we’ll use “junior year” to mean “year before your final fall semester”, regardless of how long you’ve been attending UW-Madison. For example, if you’re planning to graduate in Fall 2026, your “junior year” would be the 2025-2026 academic year (Fall 2025 and Spring 2026).

Application Process

Below are the steps in the application process for POP and PMP.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

STEP 1: Apply to POP

Complete the Plus One Pathway application by March 15 in the spring semester of your junior year (the spring semester immediately prior to the fall semester you intend to graduate). Application materials include: 

  • A statement of purpose
  • Your resume/CV
  • Your most recent unofficial transcript
  • At least 3 letters of recommendation. (Since this is a professional master’s program, you are welcome to request letters from industry/work recommenders, but you should have at least one recommender that can speak to their academic strengths in the CS curriculum.) These letters must be submitted via email by the March 15 POP application deadline. The application form has additional instructions on the process.

STEP 2: Check Your Email!

Check your email inbox periodically in case the committee needs more information. POP admissions decisions will be communicated to applicants by mid-April.

STEP 3: Accept Admission

If admitted, confirm your intention of beginning PMP next spring by accepting your POP admission by May 15. After accepting, you’ll be encouraged to connect with the Professional Master’s Program coordinator and your undergraduate advisor(s) to verify that you are on track for fall semester undergraduate degree conferral and go over any questions you might have.

Since you can transfer up to 7 credits from your undergraduate degree to PMP, you should connect with the Professional Master’s Program coordinator as soon as possible after your admission to discuss the transfer credit process.

STEP 4: Apply to Graduate School

Admitted POP students will need to formally submit a Graduate School application for admission into PMP by December 1 of their final semester (fall of their senior year); applications open September 1. (While the CS Department will formally recommend you for PMP admission, the Graduate School has their own minimum admissions requirements that they check for and make all final admissions decisions, hence this step.)

The Graduate School application will require you to submit the following via their application:

  1. A statement of purpose (can be the same statement you submitted for your POP application)
  2. Emails for 3 individuals who can write you letters of recommendation (recommenders can be same individuals from original POP applications, and letters can be the same)
  3. Updated unofficial transcripts
  4. Updated resume/CV
  5. POP admission letter

Applicants must also pay the application fee by December 1 of their final semester. The CS Department does not provide fee waivers, but the Graduate School has limited fee grants available for qualified students.

STEP 5: Check Your Email (Again!)

Keep an eye out for an email from the Graduate School confirming your admission for the upcoming spring term and next steps.

The CS Department will also share with you some resources and information regarding PMP.

Frequently Asked Questions

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Can I apply to POP if I plan to graduate in a spring semester?

No. POP is only open to students graduating in a fall semester for spring term admission. Students who wish to pursue PMP starting in a fall semester would need to apply via the standard PMP admissions process.

I am an international student. Can I apply to POP?

Yes! We welcome international students to apply.

Is there a cost to apply to POP?

No. POP does not have a cost attached. Students do need to pay the Graduate School application fee when they are ready to apply to PMP, and PMP is a self-funded program.

What is the cost of PMP? Is there financial support or graduate assistantships available?

PMP is a self-funded program. As a professional master’s program, tuition remission is not offered. More information can be found on the PMP page. The Bursar’s Office has information on tuition rates for individual programs.

Will I get advising services for POP and PMP if I’m admitted?

Yes! As an undergraduate POP student you will be expected to work with your undergraduate advisor(s) and the Professional Master’s Programs coordinator if you have questions regarding your undergraduate degree or the transition to PMP. Upon your matriculation as a graduate student into PMP, you’ll be assigned both a faculty advisor and a traditional academic advisor. Your advisors can work with you on questions regarding course selection, policies, degree timelines, etc. 

Is an internship required for PMP?

No. Internships are not required. Our PMP page has more information on internships. Please note that international students looking to move from POP to PMP and transfer credits to PMP may find it difficult or impossible to complete an internship with CPT in three or fewer semesters due to ISS guidelines.

I’m still thinking about graduate study. What are some things I should consider?

The Graduate School has a helpful page dedicated to this topic. We want students to feel confident in their decision to pursue graduate education with us, so please do reach out if you have any questions regarding the program!

I’m more interested in research or a PhD program. Is PMP right for me?

Maybe not. If you are interested in research and might be interested in pursuing a PhD in Computer Sciences, you may wish to investigate traditional MS and PhD programs, such as our traditional program. These are more research-focused than PMP, which is geared toward individuals who wish to gain new skills and knowledge for career and workforce preparation. PMP does allow for some limited research credit to count toward the requirements, but research is not the focus of the program.

Questions?

Suman Banerjee

Head of Professional Programs

David J. DeWitt Professor and Associate Chair for Professional Programs

suman@cs.wisc.edu

Kyle Martinez

Graduate Program Manager

klmartinez@wisc.edu