The Computer Science Department offers three different master’s options for students who have completed (or will complete) a bachelor’s degree and want to extend their training in computer science. Our largest program is the M.S. in Computer Science, which allows students with undergraduate degrees in computer science or another technical field to work with their academic advisor to create their own course of study. We also offer a fifth-year master’s program for current SCS undergraduates, and a 3-2 MBA program with CMU’s Tepper School of Business.
M.S. in Computer Science
The Master of Science in Computer Science offers students with a bachelor's degree the opportunity to take their skills to the next level with advanced study. We cater to students with basic analytic skills and a strong aptitude for mathematics, programming, and logical reasoning. You don’t need a bachelor’s degree in computer science specifically for the program, but a technical undergraduate background will set you up for success.
Our program isn’t based on a fixed set of courses. Instead, you’ll construct your own course of study, in consultation with your advisor. The program requires only coursework; research is optional, though approximately a third of our students have some research involvement during the course of their studies, and there is a thesis option.
Most students will complete the program in three semesters, but if you’re switching to computer science from another field, you may need an additional semester to fill gaps in your undergraduate training. The M.S. program is distinct from the Ph.D. program in computer science, and master's students will not usually continue into the Ph.D. program and will not receive preferential treatment if they apply.
You can see a detailed description of the program's requirements and curriculum in our MSCS Handbook.
Fifth Year Master's Program
We designed the Fifth Year Master's Program specifically for students receiving a B.S. or double major in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon. Students with a B.S. in AI from the Machine Learning Department can also apply if they meet certain breadth requirements that are documented under Admissions.
The program encourages our very brightest undergraduates to become involved with research that broadens their undergraduate experience. We also want to encourage a select group of students to continue to graduate school by providing them with an additional qualification and period of study beyond their undergraduate degree, resulting in a master’s degree in computer science.
The program lasts 12 months, including one standard academic year and one summer. You typically start working on a research project during the summer after your senior year, and continue that project while taking classes during the academic year. You can also start the program in a fall or spring semester, however you can only start the Fifth Year Master's program after you have received your B.S. in computer science at CMU.
Students interested in applying to the Fifth Year Master’s Program should do so by the middle of the fall semester of their senior year. Students are admitted based on strong evidence of research potential through close interaction with one or more faculty members — whether in projects, summer jobs or advanced classes. In addition to faculty support, we will also consider input from external people familiar with your background and research experience (e.g., a supervisor for a summer internship). Contact information for recommendation letters is in our admissions information.
Students interested in earning their bachelor’s degree and MBA in five years may be interested in the Tepper School of Business’s Accelerated MBA program. The program is administered by the Tepper Schoool, and more information is available on their web site.
Additional Master's Programs Information
Additional information about M.S. in Computer Science, as well as the other Master's Programs in the School of Computer Science, can be found in the statistics & program fact booklet we have compiled in a short, downloadable PDF.