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University of Pittsburgh    
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  May 20, 2022
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Computer Science, MS

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Admissions Requirements

The Department is open to applications from exceptional students transitioning to graduate study in Computer Science from other undergraduate fields. Transitional students with demonstrated computing aptitude, as evidenced by outstanding grades in at least four of the required computer science courses noted below, may be considered for admission to the graduate program. Completed minimally a selection of courses in the following topical areas (the corresponding Pitt course numbers are indicated): 

In Computer Science, one course in each of:

In Mathematics, the following:

At the time of enrollment, the student must hold a BS degree.

Degree Requirements

Course Requirements

The MS degree requires 30 credits of formal course work. The 30 credits include a total of 24 credits plus an MS thesis, CS 2000 ; or 27 credits plus an MS project, CS 2910 .

The 30 credits must include one course from each of the following foundation areas.

Foundation area courses must be completed with a grade of “B” or better.

     Theory and Algorithms

     Architecture and Compilers

     Operating Systems and Networks

     Artificial Intelligence and Database Systems

In addition to the course courses, list the two options:

  • Thesis Option: six credits for the MS thesis + at least 12 additional credits of graduate (2100-level or higher) Department of Computer Science courses.
  • Project Option: three credits for the MS project + at least 15 additional credits of graduate (2100-level or higher) Department of Computer Science courses.

All additional coursework must be completed with B- or better.

The additional credits cannot include independent or directed study courses (CS 2990 , CS 3000 ), MS thesis or project, or research courses (CS 2910 , CS 3900 , …).

To fulfill the additional credits, a student may count either (a) one CS 1600-level or CS 20xx course (excluding 2000-2009) or (b) petition GPEC to count one out-of-department course.

All coursework must be completed with an overall grade point average of 3.0 (B) or higher.

Thesis or Project

There are two options for completing the MS degree: the thesis option and the project option.

For the thesis option, the student must complete a written thesis, taking at least six credits of CS 2000 , which must be taken with the S/N grading option. The student’s advisor will assist him or her in selecting a thesis committee, to consist of at least three faculty members, at least two members must be from Computer Science (one being your advisor) and at most one from outside the department or University (all three could be from Computer Science). The committee will conduct a public oral final examination. The committee must be formed with all names sent to the graduate administrator at least four weeks before the examination date.

The committee will vote on the outcome and sign a report that will be filed in the SCI Graduate Students Office. The oral examination is public and open to all members of the Department of Computer Science. It must be announced via the faculty and graduate mailing lists at least one week prior to its scheduled date. The announcement must include a title, an abstract, name of advisor(s), name of committee members, date of examination, and location of examination.

For the project option, the student must complete a Master’s project, taking at least three credits of CS 2910 , with the S/N grading option. Approval of a project report by the advisor is required.

Both CS 2000  and CS 2910  are closed courses, requiring approval of the faculty advisor for enrollment.

Note that students selecting the thesis option must complete a total of four electives, plus foundation courses and thesis research (CS 2000 ), while students completing the project option must complete a total of five electives, plus foundation courses and directed research (CS 2910 ).


A maximum of one credit of MS Internship (CS 2900 ) can be taken by students wishing to supplement their in-class education with practical training. Note that international students must complete two semesters of full-time study prior to qualifying for CPT. Further, OIS is unlikely to approve CPT authorization during the final semester of study; please talk to the graduate studies administrator or the DGS for more information regarding these issues.

Students wishing to complete an MS Internship (CS 2900 ) as part of their MS degree must fill out a learning agreement in conjunction with their employer and their faculty advisor. Please note that MS Internships not contributing substantively to a student’s graduate education will not be approved by the Department. Completed Learning Agreement forms (with all signatures) should be turned in to the graduate studies administrator prior to the add/drop deadline for the term in which the Internship will take place. 


MS degrees must be completed within four calendar years from the student’s initial registration for graduate studies. This limit applies to all students, whether full-time or part-time. Normally, full-time students will complete the degree within two years. 

Copies of the thesis must be submitted to the committee at least two weeks in advance of the examination. 

The project report must be submitted to the advisor at least a week in advance of the end of the term. 

Financial Support

Students whose goal is a terminal Masters degree do not receive financial support from the Department. Occasionally, opportunities for financial support for part-time instruction may be available. It is the responsibility of the student to watch and apply for these opportunities when they are announced.

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