The College of Information and Computer Sciences offers a tuition-free master's degree, accompanied by a small assistantship, to any undergraduate computer science major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who completes the CmpSci BS degree with an overall GPA of at least 3.70.* In recognition of their academic achievements, participants will be designated as "Bay State Fellows" by the College. Fellows may participate in the program for up to two years (four semesters), although it is possible to complete the program in less time. Students who complete the CmpSci BA degree are also encouraged to apply to the program if they have similarly high GPA, but because there is great latitude in how the BA may be completed, they are not guaranteed the fellowship. BA students who are interested in the Bay State Fellowship Program should be sure to follow the additional course requirements outlined below.
Students interested in the Bay State Fellowship program who do not satisfy the requirements may want to apply to the College's graduate program in the MS track. Students admitted into the MS track are not provided with assistantships or other financial support.
The Computer Science master's degree is a 30 credit hour program, six of which can be the master's project, with students required to complete 4 core course requirements (credits for core courses apply to the 30 credit hours). Up to six credits of previous work -- for example, graduate courses taken while an undergraduate and not used to satisfy undergraduate computer science requirements -- may be applied to the 30 credit MS requirement. Some MS work -- for example, the 6 credit project -- may be done over the summer.
To be eligible for the program, an undergraduate must have actually completed the computer science BS degree, and must have taken at least 15 of the College's required 20 technical courses at the Amherst campus (and thus transfer students are eligible to participate in the program). Additionally, and in recognition of the mathematical demands computer science places on its graduate students, to be eligible for the Bay State Fellowship, applicants must have taken one of the following classes with a grade of B- or better: CMPSCI 501, Formal Language Theory; CMPSCI 575/Math 513, Combinatorics and Graph Theory; CMPSCI 513 Logic in Computer Science; or Math 411, Intro to Abstract Algebra I. Any of these courses may also be used as electives where appropriate in the standard Computer Science curriculum. Finally, applicants must have completed a one-semester independent study project (for example, an honors project) as part of their undergraduate program. Projects done outside the College of Information and Computer Sciences must be vetted by a CS faculty member.
Bay State Fellows must begin the program in the fall term. Students who wish to participate should set up a meeting with Prof. Robert Moll, and complete the (brief) application process by February 1 of the year they plan to begin their program of studies.
For planning purposes, students who are interested in the Bay State Fellows' program often need to know about eligibility before completing their senior year. Therefore, students who notify the College at the start of the Spring semester of their senior year that they wish to start the program in the next fall semester will be accepted into the program at the time of inquiry, if their current GPA is 3.70* or better, and if all other requirements are met. However, early acceptance is conditional: students who receive grades below B- in technical courses in their final undergraduate semester may, at the discretion of the College of Information and Computer Sciences, forfeit their Bay State Fellow status.
The fellowship appointment includes an approximately 1/2 time assistantship, which comes - minimally - with a small stipend along with a waiver of most fees.** In return, participating students are required to make a corresponding commitment to the educational or research mission of the College, either by serving as a half-time teaching assistant, or by serving in some other half-time research or project assistant job. The nature of a student's assistantship will be determined at the discretion of the College.
A student who qualifies for the Bay State Fellowship program must begin the master's program within one year of graduation.
*Students who enter the University in 2015 or later must have an overall GPA of 3.70 or higher. For students who entered before 2015, the GPA requirement is 3.60.
**Stipend and fee waiver subject to availability of funds.