Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

MS/PhD Requirements

Most Computer Science graduate students are admitted to the MS/PhD track. That means they are intending to work toward a PhD, but will acquire a masters degree along the way. During the first stage of a student's graduate career, he or she will be simultaneously working toward the MS degree and compiling a portfolio, both of which are requirements of the PhD. There are links below to the pages which list the program requirements for student admitted to the MS/PhD track.

The College expects that students starting work in the MS/PhD track have a solid undergraduate background in Computer Science. If you are unsure of your background, you should consult your advisor.

M.S/Ph.D. Students are required to:

  • Actively participate in research under the guidance of an advisor
  • Satisfy 6 Core Requirements across the areas of Systems, AI and Theory
  • Complete 30 course credits (6 core courses taken to satisfy core requirements are included)
  • Complete a 6-credit MS Project (Synthesis)
  • Graduate with an M.S. Degree (before or after portfolio submission)
  • Pass the College of Information and Computer Sciences Qualifying Exam- Portfolio
  • Form a Committee
  • Propose a Thesis
  • Complete 18 Dissertation Credits & 1 600-level course & 1 elective course
  • Pass the Teaching Assistant Requirement
  • Pass the Residency Requirement
    • at least 9 credits, each semester, in back-to-back semesters which is usually satisfied with the dissertation credits
  • Defend and Submit a Thesis

Sample schedule (MS/PhD)

The following schedule shows one way in which an MS/PhD student could progress through the program to complete both the MS and PhD in five years (most students who complete in five years actually complete in the summer after their 10th semester). Because people have different backgrounds and different skills, your progress will almost certainly vary somewhat from this. It can be a helpful guide nonetheless. Students supported by an RAship will be able to make progress more efficiently if their Masters and Synthesis projects as well as their dissertation are well aligned with the RAship.

Year Fall Spring
1st core (3cr)
Seminar/Ind. study/Non-CS/Course (3cr)
core (3cr)
non-core (3cr)
2nd core (3cr)
core (3cr)
core (3cr)
MS Project/synthesis begins
RA overlaps project
3rd core (3cr)
MS Project/synthesis completed (6cr)
RA overlaps project
portfolio submitted
MS completed
COMPSCI course at 600-800 level  (3cr)
4th non-core including independent study (3cr)
thesis proposal
dissertation (9cr)
5th dissertation (9cr)
thesis defense
PhD completed


Most MS/PhD students are supported by research or teaching assistantships.