Course Requirements- Ms/PhD

MS degree

  1. Core requirements. You must have satisfied four core requirements (one from each of three areas, plus one additional requirement from any of the three areas), something that you will have done in order to submit your portfolio. This requirement is usually satisfied by taking courses and getting a B or better in them. (The Masters requirement is a B or better; the portfolio requirement is a B+ or better.)
  2. MS project. You are required to complete a research project to the satisfaction of at least two faculty readers, with a grade of B or better. Most students fulfill this requirement in combination with their synthesis project. If you choose to keep the two projects separate, you must prepare and submit a one-page MS Project Proposal (the form is available here) and have it endorsed by the faculty readers and the GPD. After approval, you must enroll in CMPSCI 701 (6 credits). When the project is completed, you will tell the Graduate Program Manager who will get approval from your readers. (The College of Information and Computer Sciences does not have a Masters Thesis option.)
  3. Credits. You must take a total of 30 credits with the following restrictions:
    • 6 of those credits will be your Masters Projects (701).
    • Another 18 of those credits must come from courses at the 600-900 level that are not independent studies. Classes taken to satisfy core requirements fall into this group. The Masters Project (701) does not count for these 18 credits.
    • The remaining 6 credits may come from courses at the 600-900 level, but can also come from 500-level courses, courses taken pass/fail or from independent studies.
    • Across the 24 (18+6) course credits, at most 9 credits may come from courses outside of the College of Information and Computer Sciences. (Credit for graduate courses from other departments must be approved by the GPD.)
    • Classes with a grade below a C may not be counted toward the MS degree. You must get a B or better in 701.
    • Only a limited number of credits may be transferred from other programs or institutions.
  4. GPA. Your overall grade point average for those 30 credits must be 3.0 or higher.

PhD degree

  1. MS degree. You must have completed your Masters degree as described above.
  2. Residency. You must be on-campus and enrolled in at least nine credits for two consecutive semesters (not counting summers).
  3. Credits. You must take a total of 6 credits in addition to the 30 credits required for the Masters degree. The following complex list of restrictions limits which courses you can take.
    • the credits must be at the 600-800 level (excluding 899). Credit for graduate courses from other departments must be approved by the GPD. Classes taken to satisfy the core requirements (but that were not used for the Masters degree) count toward these 6 credits.
    • Independent studies and courses taken pass/fail may together account for no more than 3 of these credits. (Yes, you may take 6 such credits for the Masters and another 3 such credits for the PhD.)
    • Classes with a grade below a C may not be counted toward the PhD degree.
    • It is not possible to transfer course credits from outside UMass Amherst to satisfy those requirements.
  4. GPA. Your overall grade point average for those 6 credits must be 3.0 or higher.

Transferring Credit

If you enter the program and have already taken some courses at another institution, it may be possible to transfer some of your credits. The following Graduate School rules limit your options:

  • You may transfer a maximum of 12 graduate credits. However, a maximum of six credits may be from any combination of the following:
    • other accredited colleges or universities in the US
    • non-degree credits taken at UMass
    • courses taken as an undergraduate (that were not applied to the baccalaureate degree)
    • Continuing Education courses
  • Transfer credits must come from courses where you received a B or better and that were taken no more than three years prior to your entering the program.
  • Credits from outside the University of Massachusetts Amherst may not be used to satisfy the 600-800 level requirement for a Masters degree.
  • The grade you received on transferred credits does not apply toward the GPA requirement of the degree.
  • Graduate courses that have been applied toward any baccalaureate or advanced degree may not be used for fulfilling requirements for any other master's degree at the University.
  • You may not transfer credits from outside the University of Massachusetts Amherst to satisfy any requirements for the PhD.

The Graduate Student Handbook provides more details.

Note that transferred credit only reduces your credit requirements toward the Masters or PhD degree. It does not satisfy other requirements. In particular, transferring a course does not automatically result in your passing a corresponding core requirement. If you feel that the course should satisfy a core requirement, see the instructions on passing out of a core requirement.