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MS Degree Program


The Master of Science degree permits graduate students the flexibility in defining specialized interdisciplinary fields that meet their professional needs. It is also available to undergraduate Computer Science majors through the Concurrent BS/MS Degree Program.

MS Degree Requirements

The Master of Science degree requirements encompass the following areas:

General Requirements

The Bulletin of the Graduate School gives the general requirements for the degree of Master of Science in all departments of the University of Colorado. The following is a description of those requirements which specifically pertain to students pursuing a course of study leading to the degree of Master of Science in the Department of Computer Science. It supplements the requirements in the Bulletin. In all cases not specifically mentioned below, the general requirements as stated in the Bulletin are understood to apply.

Course Requirements

The department requires a candidate to complete an approved program of study consisting of at least 30 semester hours. At least 24 of these 30 hours must be in Computer Science courses at the 5000 level or above. (Any course which is cross-listed by Computer Science is considered to be a Computer Science course, regardless of the department in which the student actually registers.) Up to 6 hours may be taken in courses at the 4000 level or above in other departments (CSCI 4000 level courses cannot be counted towards a Masters degree), provided that those courses have "significant Computer Science content" and are taught by a member of the graduate faculty. The student should file a petition to allow these credit hours to be counted toward the degree. This petition must explicitly verify the above requirements and must be approved by the student's advisor and the Graduate Director of the Computer Science department.

Breadth requirement: Computer Science Courses are listed in nine areas: artificial intelligence, database systems, numerical computation, operating systems, parallel computing, programming languages, software engineering, computer graphics, and theory. All students must earn a B or better (not a B-) in at least one 5000-level course (not 6000 or higher) in four of these nine areas (this does not include area 0). With the consent of the student's advisor or by petition to the Graduate Committee, a more advanced course (at CU) in an area in which basic graduate work was done elsewhere may be used to satisfy part of this requirement.

Transfer Credit

Master's students may request a maximum of nine semester hours to be transferred. All transfer requests must have departmental approval. Transfer requests can be made with the Request for Transfer of Credit within CU System and the Request for Transfer of Credit.

Approved Electives

Courses outside computer science may be appropriate for a given student's program. With the approval of an advisor, any courses at the 4000 level or above are allowed under this heading if they are taught by a member of the graduate faculty and are not cross-listed with Computer Science.

Plan of Study

Students will be expected to submit a plan of study, in consultation with their departmental advisor, during the first semester of study. Changes to the plan of study must be approved by the advisor.

Thesis vs. Non-Thesis

Students who elect to do a thesis receive 6 hours of thesis credit towards the required 30 hours of coursework. They must also take an oral comprehensive exam on their thesis work and submit their thesis to the graduate school for approval. Students electing the non-thesis option must submit the Master's Degree Plan Approval form at the beginning of the semester they plan to graduate. Master's thesis defense must be scheduled with the Graduate School at least two weeks before the exam is held by submitting a Master's Examination or Project Report.


The Graduate School requires that to receive a Master's degree a student must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 in all courses taken as a graduate student.

Adequate Progress

Any student who does not enroll for any course work relevant to Computer Science in any one semester (summer semesters excluded) must supply the Department with a written statement describing the reasons for such an inactivity and the student's current intentions concerning work towards the degree. This statement must be received by the Department by the end of the eighth week of the semester in question. Failure to do so will be regarded as evidence of a lack of interest in continuing in the program. Similarly, any student who does not enroll for any Computer Science course work for three consecutive semesters (summer semesters excluded) will be regarded as showing a lack of interest in continuing in the program. In either case, the student may be asked to explain to the Department why the student should not be removed from the degree program, with the Department making the final decision on the removal.

Time Limit

All requirements for the MS degree must be completed within four years of the start of course work.

Repeat Exams

A student who fails the oral thesis defense may retake the failed exam once, in a later semester. In doing this the student may switch between the thesis and the nonthesis option of the program. A maximum of two attempts is allowed.


Each graduate student is assigned an initial advisor when they are accepted into the program. Students consult with their advisor to plan their course of study. If a student does a master's thesis, typically they change advisors and use their thesis supervisor as both academic and thesis advisor.

Related Programs

There are several programs related to the Master of Science degree that may be of interest. These include the Certificate in Human Language Technology and the Dual MS/MBA Program.

Certificate in Human Language Technology

The Interdisciplinary Certificate in Human Language Technology, jointly sponsored by the Computer Science Department together with the Center for Computational Language and EducAtion Research, and the Departments of Linguistics, Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, and Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, provides a rich and broad background for students interested in computational tools for human language processing. The Certificate curriculum covers areas such as computer speech recognition, natural language processing, text-based information retrieval, and web-based dialog agents.

This Masters-level certificate accompanies a normal MA or MS degree in one of the four Human Language Technology disciplines:

  • Computer Science
  • Linguistics
  • Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering
  • Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

The program is available to currently enrolled CU-Boulder Masters or PhD students in any of these four fields, including students in the five-year Concurrent BS/MS Degree Program in Computer Science. Interested Computer Science students should contact the HLT Curriculum Committee member for Computer Science, Professor James Martin.

Dual MS/MBA Program

To support the University's mission of advancing knowledge across disciplines and in recognition that business education and training has relevance to many academic fields, the Leeds School of Business and the Department of Computer Science endorse a Dual Degree Program in which both a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Computer Science are awarded to those students who satisfy the requirements.

See also:
Department of Computer Science
College of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
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December 27, 2011 (13:22)