UMassCS Logo Donate to CS
 
 

Undergraduate Preparation

The most important qualification for graduate study in Computer Science is good undergraduate preparation. The more courses, and the better the performance in those courses, the more likely the student is to compete successfully for admission to the program. However, if a student's performance overall convinces the Admissions Committee of his/her qualification for graduate study, minor deficiencies in undergraduate preparation are acceptable, provided these deficiencies are removed during the first year in Graduate School.

Incoming students should have taken courses equivalent to CMPSCI 121, 187, 220, 230, 250, MATH 131, 132, 235, and either MATH 233 or STATS 515.

We also recommend that students applying to the MS/PhD or PhD program avail themselves of opportunities to engage in research projects, especially where the work will result in publication of a conference or journal paper. These can, for example, be faculty-supervised research projects, company internships, the many Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs that are sponsored by the National Science Foundation through colleges and universities, or the Computing Research Association's Distributed REU summer programs. The PhD is a research-oriented degree, and the best way to demonstrate potential for completing it is through active and successful participation in research as an undergraduate. 

We receive many inquiries from prospective students with little or no undergraduate preparation in Computer Science. In most cases, we recommend that such students enroll as non-degree students here or elsewhere to learn the undergraduate core of Computer Science. A year spent in this fashion allows students to discover whether they do indeed have the requisite skills and deep interest in Computer Science, and it provides us with the necessary data to determine whether they qualify for admission to the graduate program. We occasionally make exceptions to this rule but only if a student wishes to pursue interdisciplinary studies in Computer Science and has shown exceptional ability in a complementary discipline such as math, electrical engineering, physics, linguistics, neuroscience or psychology. Students admitted on these terms are required to remove deficiencies during their first year - the courses so taken do not, of course, count towards the graduate degree.