Master's students select one of the three programs of study. Students can select the thesis, project, or course option.Master's students select one of the three programs of study. Students can select the thesis, project, or course option.

Graduate
  /  
MS in Computer Science
Curriculum & Requirements for MS Program

Master of Science Degree Areas

Courses and research in computer science include artificial intelligence, including models of memory and reasoning, knowledge representation, natural language understanding, planning, and problem solving; human computer interaction; distributed interactive systems; theoretical computer science, focusing on algorithm design and analysis; “frictionless” proactive context and task-sensitive information retrieval systems; distributed and real-time systems, networks, performance analysis, prediction and scheduling; Internet and grid application development; and computer graphics and human computer interfaces for spatial applications, visualization, and computer entertainment.

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MS Program Requirements

At least 12 units of graduate study are required for the MS degree. Typically, one unit of credit corresponds 
to a one-quarter course. With the exception ELEC_ENG/COMP_ENG/COMP_SCI/EECS 590, all courses must be taken for a grade. All coursework for the MS degree must be taken within the Northwestern University Graduate School and must be completed within five years. Every MS student is required to take at least three relevant courses at the 400 level. Not all coursework must be taken in CS; exceptions are allowed based on the recommendation of the student’s adviser and the approval of the graduate committee. The courses completed for undergraduate credit at Northwestern or elsewhere cannot be repeated for graduate credit.

In addition to the coursework, each student working toward an MS degree in computer science must choose one of the following plans to be approved by the student’s adviser.

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Degree Plans

Plan A (Thesis MS)

The student must write an MS thesis for which he or she may receive two or three units of research credit 590. This can be counted toward the 12-unit requirement for the MS degree. The thesis must be approved by the student’s MS examination committee.

Plan B (Project MS)

The student must complete a project and write a project report for which he or she will receive one or two units of research 590, which can be counted toward the 12-unit requirement for the MS degree. The difference between an MS thesis and an MS project is that the thesis normally has substantial original research results, while a project contains results based on existing theory or techniques. The project report must be approved by the student’s MS examination committee.

Plan C (Course MS)

The student must take 12 courses approved by the student’s adviser. The choice of courses must represent a coherent program of study that prepares the student for advanced work in a specific field. The student’s performance in the coursework will be evaluated by an MS examination committee. Not all programs allow this option.

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Residency Requirement

The minimum residency requirement for the MS degree is the equivalent of three quarters of full-time registration in graduate courses. Full-time registration is defined as three or four course units per quarter.

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Graduate Study Manual

For more information about the requirements for the master of science program and the Department of Computer Science, please download the department’s graduate study manual.

Graduate Study Manual

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Forms and Documents

Find study manuals, checklists, and forms for current graduate students.