Master's Requirements

Each master's program has its own curriculum and requirements.

M.S. in Computer Science

Our M.S. program in computer science 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 consists entirely of coursework, and there is generally no research component. You must complete six broad requirements:

  1. Pass* 96 units in qualifying master’s courses from the curriculum list in the MSCS Handbook. This is typically eight courses.
  2. Pass 12 free-elective units.
  3. Pass one course from the available Systems courses. (May be used a qualifying course.)
  4. Pass one course from the available Theoretical Foundations courses. (May be used a qualifying course.)
  5. Pass one course from the available Artificial Intelligence courses. (May be used a qualifying course.)
  6. Maintain a 3.0 QPA.

(* "Passing” is considered receiving a letter grade of C or higher.)

Some students may need to take additional courses that do not satisfy any program requirement, in order to satisfy pre-requisites for other courses. For example, most students will be expected to take 15-213 (Introduction to Computer Systems). 15-213 can be taken over the Internet during the summer, and new master’s students are encouraged to do so before they arrive. Students who completed their undergraduate work at CMU can apply up to two courses taken as an undergraduate toward requirements for the MS, provided the two courses were not previously used to satisfy any requirement.

Fifth Year Master's Program

Our Fifth Year Master's program lasts 12 months, including one normal academic year and one summer. Students will start working on a research project during the summer after their senior year, and continue that project while taking classes during the academic year. Students can only start the Fifth Year Master's program after they have received their B.S. in computer science or AI from CMU. Students with a BS in AI also must satisfy additional breadth requirements before they can start the Fifth Year MS program. These breadth requirements are described in more detail below.

To earn their master’s degree, students in the Fifth Year Master’s Program will take a minimum of 48 units of graduate courses in the School of Computer Science. To satisfy the breadth requirement, students should take at least two courses in different areas in computer science from this breadth course list (CMU authentication required).

The remaining units (a minimum of 24) should consist of electives used to gain depth in the student's research area. The elective units can be satisfied using any course at the 700 level and above in SCS and, with prior approval, outside SCS. Students must receive a grade of A or B in each course; they receive no credit for grades of C or below.

Students must also complete a significant research project resulting in a thesis (96 units). The thesis research should result in a document and an oral presentation summarizing the results of their project.

Additional Breadth Requirements for Students with a B.S. in AI from CMU

  • The B.S. degree in AI shares many of the technical course requirements with the B.S. in CS.  Given this overlap, students with a B.S. in AI can also apply to the CSD 5th year MS program. Details on the B.S. in CS requirements can be found on our undergraduate curriculum page:
  • The B.S. in CS and AI differ in their breadth requirements. In order to apply to the 5th Year MS, students in the B.S. in AI program must take the following two breadth area courses:
    • 15-451 (Algorithm Design and Implementation)
    • One course satisfying either the Logic and Languages or the Software System Design Elective requirement.  The BS AI includes SCS electives, which can, for example, be used to satisfy this requirement.
  • These courses must be taken before they enter the 5th Year MS program.
  • BS AI students automatically meet the AI Elective and, because of the AI Cluster Electives requirement, the Domains Elective requirements.
  • As noted on the CSD MS admissions page, BS AI students should include a short paragraph in their two-page statement documenting how they meet, or plan to meet, the BS CS breadth requirement listed above.

You can see a detailed description of the program's requirements and curriculum in our Fifth Year Master's Handbook.

Accelerated MBA Program

Requirements for the Accelerated MBA are set by the Tepper School of Business. For more, check out their curriculum page.