MS Program in Computer Science: FAQs

Q: What are the educational goals of the program?

The MSCS program is designed to make you a better thinker, a better programmer and a better language designer. It will also provide you with a good understanding of current technology. Our philosophy is to require you to master foundational topics and then let you specialize in application areas of your interest.

Q: How will this help my career?

You will gain a broad and deep understanding of many aspects of computer science, choosing among such fields as security and cryptography, graphics, scientific computing, programming languages, databases, networking, and distributed systems, to name a few. This may enable you to become a design lead in a complex multi-faceted project.

Q: What are the basic requirements for the degree?

These are fully outlined in MS Requirements. However, here are the basics:

  1. Complete 36 credits of approved coursework.
  2. Complete the three foundational courses, which are CSCI-GA 1170 Fundamental Algorithms, CSCI-GA 2110 Programming Languages and CSCI-GA 2250 Operating Systems and achieve at least a B- (2.7) or better rolling gpa in the foundational courses attempted.
  3. Maintain at least a B (3.0) cumulative grade point average (gpa) in each semester and successfully complete at least 66% of the credits attempted.
  4. Pass one course in two of the following four designated application areas: Computation for Science and Society; Graphics; Intelligent Systems and Databases.
  5. Complete a designated capstone course with a grade of B (3.0) or better. Alternatively, subject to DGS approval, a student may complete an approved master's thesis or an approved capstone advanced lab.
  6. All of the above must be completed within 5 years.

Q: Can you send me pamphlets or brochures about the program?

We no longer create paper informational materials, but please browse our website or email if you have any specific questions not answered on our website.

Q: How can I get involved in research?

The best way is to find a professor whose interests coincide with yours. Often this will be a professor whom you have gotten to know during a class. You can contact the professor to see if you can find a project of mutual interest. The project can be done for credit, as an independent study, if you and the professor agree and the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) approves it. Another option is to do a master's thesis with a full-time faculty member. An approved thesis counts for 6 credits of course work. You can learn more about the requirements for a thesis at the link below.

MS Thesis Authorization Form

Q: My background in math is a little weak. Is there anything I should be careful about?

CSCI-GA 1170 Fundamental Algorithms is somewhat mathematical (recurrence equations, proofs, etc.). So, it would be suggested to take CSCI-GA 2340 Discrete Math before or concurrently with Fundamental Algorithms. Also, please be sure to have enough time to handle that course and to attend the weekly problem sessions. Please note that the graduate level offering of Discrete Math is only offered in the summer.

Q: I am from a natural science department and would like to learn programming and algorithmic skills. What should I take?

You should take CSCI-GA 1133 PAC I in the fall and CSCI-GA 1144 PAC II in the spring, unless you have done serious programming. It is also recommended to take CSCI-GA 2340 Discrete Math in the summer, when it is offered at the graduate level. In addition, courses such as computational biology and scientific computing may be helpful depending on your discipline.

Q: Do you accept part-time students?

Yes, we allow part-time students. Most of our Computer Science master's courses take place in the evening, either 5:10-7:00pm or 7:10-9:00pm, to allow people who work full-time to attend classes.

Q: How many courses a semester should I take?

Typically, full-time students take three courses (9 credits) a semester. When doing so, international students on an F1 visa must remember to request full-time equivalency. Most part- time students will take one course (3 credits) a semester. This is the course load that the Computer Science Department recommends for our students. It is possible for students to take more credits a semester than what is recommended by the department i.e. a full time student taking 4 courses (12 credits) or a part-time student taking 2 courses (6 credits a semester). Ultimately, it is up to the individual student. However, we do not recommend taking the heavier course load in your first semester. We encourage students not to push themselves so much in their first semester, as students are still transitioning to graduate level coursework and in many cases adjusting to living in the New York City area, and in some cases adjusting to living in the United States.

Q: What kind of courses do you offer?

You can review our graduate course list archive to see what courses have been offered in recent years.

Q: Do international students have to be full-time students in the summer?

No, international students on an F1 visa are not required to be full-time students in the summer semester. International students on an F1 visa only need to be full-time students in the fall and spring semester. Furthermore, students are not required to take any courses in the summer, if they prefer not to enroll in the summer.

Q: How long does it take to complete the degree program?

Most full-time students complete the degree in two years. The time to degree varies more for part-time students, depending on how many classes they take a semester and if they take courses in the summer. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences gives students 5 years to complete their master's degrees. International students should be aware that they might have other time restrictions.

Q: I have already taken the foundational courses (CSCI-GA 1170Fundamental Algorithms, CSCI-GA 2110 Programming Languages and CSCI-GA 2250 Operating Systems) during my undergraduate studies. Do I have to take them again at the graduate level?

Yes, we require our MSCS students to take the three foundational courses, as they are being taught at a higher level at the graduate level.  On rare occasion, an entering student may be granted an exemption from one or more of these courses. To obtain such an exemption, a student must meet with the DGS at the beginning of the student's first semester at NYU. The student requesting an exemption must provide clear documentation showing that his or her previous coursework is the equivalent of the corresponding foundational course and, upon approval of the DGS, must pass a placement exam at the start of the first semester. The placement exam will be as challenging as the final exam in the corresponding course. If the student passes the placement exam, then the student does not need to take the corresponding foundational course and can select an alternate course instead. Please note that the student does not earn any course credit by passing the placement exam. If the student does not pass the placement exam, then the student must take the corresponding foundational course.
If you are a transfer student and wish to transfer one of the foundational courses, you should request an appointment to petition to take the placement exam. If the DGS approves you to take the placement exam and you pass the placement exam, then you can apply to transfer the corresponding course, assuming you meet the transfer of credit stipulations. If you are not approved to take the placement exam or if you do not pass the placement exam, then you will have to take our foundational course and cannot transfer the corresponding course.

Q: I'm on a foreign student visa. What special conditions apply to me?

  1. New students must report to the OGS and attend a mandatory check-in within 10 days of arriving in the United States.
  2. Be sure to register on time each fall and spring semester. Students who fail to register or register late will be reported to the Immigration Service as not attending, which could result in revocation of the visa. If you will not be taking courses in the fall or spring semester, you must leave the country.
  3. Report any change in local address on Albert.
  4. Students on an F1 visa must maintain full-time status (12 credits per semester is full-time; 9 credits per semester qualifies a student for full-time equivalency). See Obtaining Full- Time Equivalency for details on obtaining FTE when you are registering for 9 credits.
  5. If you have medical reasons for not taking a full-time course load, you must apply for approval from OGS.

Q: I know there is no financial aid for master's students, but is there some way for me to earn some money to help pay the tuition as an international student on a student visa?

You are eligible for jobs within the university. These include grading and other jobs, although they are by no means sufficient for funding your education or meeting your living expenses. These positions are advertised on our departmental opportunities mailing list. Please refer to the link below for how to sign up for that list:

Other on-campus and off-campus opportunities are also distributed through the departmental opportunities mailing list. Additionally, students can search for on campus and off campus employment through the NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development.

It is also possible to take up to two paid internship courses for credit, provided a student qualifies and is approved. Additionally, international students can apply for Pre-Completion OPT, for authorization to work a paid job off campus. Please refer to the link below for more information:

Student can also review the links below for useful information on financing your graduate education.
NYU Financial Aid and Scholarships
Graduate Financial Aid

Q: How can I get into Ph.D. program?

MS students who wish to enter the Ph.D. program must submit a new complete application and are considered together with all the applicants to the Ph.D. program. There is no special mechanism for transferring from the MS to the Ph.D. program.

Q: Can I transfer from one of the department's master's program into the other master's program?

See Applying for a Department Transfer

Q: What is the difference between the MS in Computer Science offered by NYU Poly and the MS is Computer Science offered by NYU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences?

These are two different degree programs. One is offered through the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering in Brooklyn, New York and the other is through the Department of Computer Science at that Washington Square campus at NYU. You apply for admissions separately, and their requirements are independent of each other.

You can review the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering program at the link below:
NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Program

Q: Can we take classes at NYU Poly?

You can take these courses with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies and count them towards your electives for courses taken at other NYU departments outside of the Courant Institute.

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