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Our highly-ranked graduate program is a comprehensive academic program designed to train students to perform original research.

Joining our Graduate Program

The School of Computer Science has offered graduate education for fifty years. Today it is one of the highest ranked and highest impact graduate research programs in the nation. According to the 2010 U.S. News & World Report rankings of the best graduate schools, the UMass Amherst graduate program in computer science ranked 25th, while its artificial intelligence specialty ranked 12th.

The graduate student body consists of more than 200 graduate students from many different backgrounds and all parts of the globe. As a group they are characterized by a spirit of cooperation and camaraderie that contributes significantly to the School.

Once students enter graduate studies, the school aims to see that they not only successfully complete a comprehensive academic program but also prepare themselves well for their future careers. Students are involved in research programs from the beginning of their graduate careers. Upon graduation, our students have consistently found positions in some of the best academic and industrial settings.

The Computer Science graduate program has three tracks: PhD, MS/PhD, and MS.  The two PhD tracks have been the main focus of graduate studies in our school: they focus on research toward a PhD as well as a broad background in the field.  The MS track serves students interested in expanding their undergraduate education in Computer Science, either in preparation for a job where a Masters degree is important, or as a first step toward a PhD here or elsewhere.

How do you decide which track is the right one for you?

  • The PhD track is for students who have already obtained a Masters degree in Computer Science from an established and reputable program.  These students are well prepared for PhD research and typically complete our breadth requirements quickly.  PhD students are generally supported with research or teaching assistantships.
  • The combined MS/PhD track is for students who have not completed a Masters degree in Computer Science.  These students satisfy the MS requirements--so earn a Masters degree--on their way to being admitted to PhD candidacy.  The credit hour requirements for this track result in the equivalent of two courses more than in the PhD-only track.  MS/PhD students are generally supported with research or teaching assistantships.
  • The MS track provides a terminal Masters degree.  The program requires 30 credit hours, typically taken over two years.  Some students discover an interest in Computer Science research and apply to transfer into the MS/PhD track.  MS students are rarely supported with assistantships.

Admission is very competitive: a typical graduate class numbers 20-30 PhD or MS/PhD students and 40-50 MS students selected from around 750 domestic and international applicants. Backgrounds vary: we have students from engineering, math, computer science, electrical engineering, psychology and social sciences. With such a diverse group, emphasis is placed on letters of recommendation, the personal statement, GPA and GRE scores.

These pages are provided to help answer the questions that prospective graduate students often ask about our School, graduate programs of study, and the graduate admissions process. Applicants are also encouraged to learn more about our Faculty and Research, and the many benefits of living in the Amherst Area.