Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

M.S. Concentration in Field Experience

Expanding opportunities for practical training is an essential part of training students for entry into the workforce and improving their ability to interview effectively upon graduation.  Students completing the concentration will satisfy the requirements of our existing master's program with the addition of conducting an internship, co-op, practicum, or other similar experience with a commercial company, government agency, or similar entity.  Students will gain experience in applying knowledge from their courses in "real world" situations.

Students will apply knowledge gained in a classroom setting in an industrial, governmental, or other practical setting.  This will help students learn about the process of taking ideas from an academic setting and implementing them in a robust and maintainable fashion.  Each internship is unique, but they will all help students understand what it takes to translate ideas and algorithms into working systems.

This exposes students to practical implementations of algorithms and systems from late-stage undergraduate courses and introductory MS courses.  The students will then take that implementation experience and use it for a project in a graduate-level computer science course after the field experience.  This creates a feedback loop of theory and practice.

A requirement of this concentration is to complete this practical experience early on in their degree program.  This practical experience happens after at least two courses, one in systems and one in AI.  These courses provide the student with the foundational knowledge applied during the practical experience. After the practical experience, the student will apply what they learned to at least one project-based course.

If you are participating in this concentration, please complete the pre-application form at the link below. This form allows CICS staff to ensure students are on the correct path for this concentration.  You can access this form via your UMass email. If you are logged into ANY other Google Accounts the form will not work, please log into you UMass email ONLY.

Submit a Pre-Application

1. Required PRE-internship courses

Before the practical experience, students must complete at least two introductory courses that will provide foundational knowledge for the practical experience.  Those courses must include two of our MS core courses, one from systems and one from AI, from the following list:   


  • COMPSCI 520: Theory and Practice of Software Engineering 
  • COMPSCI 532: Systems for Data Science
  • COMPSCI 630: Systems 
  • COMPSCI 645: Database Design and Implementation
  • COMPSCI 653: Advanced Computer Networking
  • COMPSCI 660: Advanced Information Assurance
  • COMPSCI 677: Distributed and Operating Systems 


  • COMPSCI 685: Advanced Natural Language Processing
  • COMPSCI 603: Robotics
  • COMPSCI 646: Information Retrieval
  • COMPSCI 670: Computer Vision
  • COMPSCI 589 or 689: Machine Learning 
  • COMPSCI 682: Neural Networks: Modern Intro

**Additional and or alternate courses, AI and systems only, will be approved on a student by student basis, only. Students must endeavor to take the above classes before seeking special approval for an alternate class.**


**Students must pass BOTH the AI and the SYSTEMS before the students can carry out their internship/CPT. If one course is passed and the other is failed students can no longer carry out.**


2. Internship

Conduct an internship at an industrial company, government agency, or similar entity within the first year of joining the MS CS program, either during the summer after one semester or during the second semester. The internship will NOT EARN CREDIT TOWARDS YOUR MS DEGREE. 


3. Post- internship Project-based course

After the field experience, students must take at least one course that has a major project component. Independent study (CompSci 696 or CompSci 696DS or CompSci 696E) and Master's project (CompSci 701) will automatically qualify.  Any other course that has a major project component involving implementation will also qualify.  Students should consult with instructors to find out if a major project component exists in the course and the department will maintain a list of courses that typically do.

Project-Based Courses:

  • COMPSCI 520: Theory & Practice of Software Engineering
  • COMPSCI 532: Systems for Data Science 
  • COMPSCI 576: Game Programming
  • COMPSCI 682: Neural Networks
  • COMPSCI 685: Advanced Natural Language Processing

The list of project-based courses is based on courses and their syllabuses from the 2020-2021 academic year. This list can and will change as courses and instructors change. 

Questions about the Field Experience Concentration can be directed to Elizabeth Parolski, master’s advisor, at eparolski [at] cs.umass.edu.