Graduate programs general FAQ
Since mid-March 2020, the in-person portion of all CU Boulder classes went "virtual," with synchronous classes (via Zoom meetings) at the scheduled time while keeping asynchronous content (in Canvas, etc.) as usual. During the fall 2020 semester, we plan for most courses to be a hybrid of in-person (with health precautionary measures) and remote (synchronous meetings with faculty and students) during class times, with interactive demonstrations and real-time discussion. Within the restrictions on in-person interaction, we are committed to maintaining a strong learning community by any means necessary. For more on what the CU Boulder campus is doing as a whole, see the CU Boulder COVID-19 clearinghouse web page.
Master's program FAQ
- Do you need a technical background to apply to the program?
- Do I have to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)?
- What kinds of jobs do ATLAS MS alumni get?
- What scholarships are available for master’s students?
- What is the cost of tuition for the ATLAS MS program?
- What kinds of RA or TA opportunities are there for professional MS students?
- Can I work while in the MS program?
- Do you offer an online MS?
- I'm interested in eventually pursuing doctoral studies. Is the ATLAS master's program a pathway to a PhD?
No, not at all, but if you don’t have a technical background, you should be ready and willing to acquire technical skills during your time in the program. Both the Creative Industries and the Social Impact tracks require technical focus elective classes, and we support you getting started in our Creative Technologies course, which provides a smorgasbørd introduction to various hardware and software platforms. If you come with a strong technical background, we encourage you to use technical focus electives to add to your repertoire.
The ATLAS MS program does not require you to provide GRE results, but if you’ve taken it, we invite you to include results in your application.
Good question, and one that’s difficult to answer succinctly. As you might expect from a radically interdisciplinary program, ATLAS alumni find employment in a wide range of fields and follow a wide range of career paths.
For example, we have alumni working as a graphics software engineer at Apple, a user research moderator at Activision, a design technologist at Amazon, a UX designer at The North Face, a virtual reality designer at NIST, a staff engineer at Qualcomm, and a senior systems architect at The World Bank.
Our alumni page includes links to the personal websites and LinkedIn pages of former students.
We understand that higher education in the US can be prohibitively costly and we’re eager to help. Although ATLAS funding for scholarships is limited, in the past we have been able to offer some financial aid based on need and merit. In addition, visit the the CU Boulder scholarship page for more information about financial support.
Tuition rates are set by the campus Bursar’s Office and your costs are directly related to how many credit-hours (courses) you take each semester. The University of Colorado sets different rates for Colorado residents. The 2020-2021 Colorado resident rates are here; non-residents and international students rates are here. (On both tables, refer to the right-most column labeled “Professional Master's in Engineering"). The university also charges fees in addition to tuition. These are outlined on the second page of the rate sheets; in 2020/2021 they amount to about $850 per semester.
Professional MS students are not eligible for RA or TA positions. However, there are many opportunities to engage in research or teaching activities depending on your interests and backgrounds, and finding a match between your expertise and what’s needed in research or teaching.
Yes, and many students do. We schedule the MS core courses to best accommodate students who work full or part-time.
No, we do not offer an online program. We believe the physical environment and human interactions with people (peers and professors) is an important part of the learning experience and many opportunities for learning take place informally in place.
* see above, under the heading "General graduate programs FAQ," our note about remote and hybrid classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ATLAS master's program is designed for those planning to pursue professional careers in industry. However, after working in research labs with faculty, several students have fallen in love with research and applied to doctoral programs at the University of Colorado and other universities.
PhD program FAQ
- I'm interested in pursuing a career as a professor. Do ATLAS PhD alumni get jobs as faculty members?
- What kinds of jobs do ATLAS PhD alumni get?
- Who can serve as my PhD advisor in the ATLAS PhD program?
- Do I have to take the Graduate Record Exam?
- I’m interested in doing a practice-based PhD. Can ATLAS accommodate me?
- How does funding work? Are there Teaching and Research Assistantships for PhD students?
- The ATLAS PhD program sounds great, but wouldn’t I be better off with a PhD in a conventional field, like computer science or mechanical engineering?
- How many years does it take to get a PhD at ATLAS?
Yes. As of 2020, among the ATLAS PhD programs 27 alumni, six are currently full-time faculty members at US universities, including the University of Washington, Georgetown University, Ball State University, University of Colorado Denver and Georgia Tech.
Our PhD alumni have followed a wide range of career paths. Some are specialists or senior researchers at large corporations or research institutes. Some are founders, directors, advisors, board members and CEOs of different companies or non-profit organizations, and some are university faculty members. To learn more about the career paths of our PhD graduates, explore our alumni page.
Any tenure track or tenured CU Boulder faculty member who holds a doctorate may serve as the chair of your advisory committee. However, most, but not all, current ATLAS PhD students are advised by ATLAS Institute faculty members. Regardless of departmental affiliation, advisors of ATLAS PhD students are expected to provide tuition and stipend support.
Those applying for admission in fall 2021, the ATLAS PhD program does not require the GRE.
Probably not. The ATLAS PhD program is a research-based program. Students are expected to propose a thesis and write a dissertation. You can see examples of recent ATLAS PhD dissertations here.
We aim to support every PhD student with tuition and stipend throughout their program, and admission to the program comes with a four-year funding commitment, as long as students remain in good academic standing and are making progress toward your degree. Most PhD students are supported by funding from their advisor’s research grants, although a few ATLAS-funded teaching assistantships are available.
It depends. The ATLAS PhD program values and supports interdisciplinary interests in ways that conventional single-discipline programs do not. If your career aspirations require a specific conventional degree, then you should pursue that degree. In practice, we’ve found that the opportunities open to the graduates of PhD programs are governed more by what they’ve accomplished than by the name on their diplomas. To see the career paths of PhD program alumni, visit our alumni page.
The average time to graduate with a PhD is 4.88 years. However, due to a myriad of conditions, the length of study varies widely.
International Students FAQ
Yes, all students in all ATLAS degree programs are eligible for extended STEM-OPT. The CIP code for these programs is 15.0000, “Engineering Technology, General.”
Yes. If you are an international student and your native language is not English, you must submit a documented TOEFL iBT score or an IELTS score. More here on language proficiency. The minimum TOEFL score for admission is 100; the minimum IELTS score is 7.0.