Graduate programs general FAQ
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.
About the Master's program
- How fixed are the tracks? Can I switch between Creative Industries and Social Impact?
- What is the relationship between the graduate program and the research groups as the THING LAB or the B2? How can students participate in research groups?
- Do most students work in industry for a few years before attending this program? Or do some come directly from undergrad?
- What’s the acceptance rate for the program?
- Do you provide career matching/placement assistance?
- I'm interested in eventually pursuing doctoral studies. Is the ATLAS master's program a pathway to a PhD?
The tracks aren't fixed: you can certainly change your mind. There's overlap, but some courses are unique to each track.
Among the greatest opportunities ATLAS provides is access to cutting edge research and the faculty members who direct it. Opportunities for engagement with the faculty include taking classes, working on independent projects or joining ATLAS research labs.
It is a mix of students directly from undergraduate programs who want a deeper dive into the areas they discovered in their undergraduate studies, and professionals who have been in the field and either focus on what they love doing or want to pivot into something new.
It’s varied over the past few years. We do not admit a set number of students each year, so it’s difficult to provide an acceptance rate. Instead of admitting X number of students, we look for a good fit with the program. Our classes are small and project-based with many group projects, so building a strong cohort and diverse community is our top priority.
Professional and career development is a significant focus in the program. We work early on to support students in identifying career goals and opportunities for internships and employment (post-graduation). As our students have diverse employment goals, we work individually to create opportunities for professional networking. A number of our courses are either taught or include industry leaders and mentors who work closely with students to support career development.
"Yes, and". The ATLAS master's program aims to serve those pursuing professional careers. However, after working in research labs with faculty, students have fallen in love with research and applied to doctoral programs at the University of Colorado and other universities. Over the past five years, approximately 20% ATLAS of graduating MS students have enrolled in PhD study.
Master's program: Applying to the program
- Do I have to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)?
- For the letters of recommendation, do you prefer to hear from people in our lives currently, or past professors, or a mix of both?
- Regarding the portfolio (work samples), what would you like to see ?
- Do you need a technical background to apply to the program?
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.
We want to hear from people who can speak to the work you are capable of and can share their experiences working with you. This might be professors/instructors or work supervisors.
We recognize that applicants to the program might not have a well-developed portfolio; in fact, many are interested in the program so they can have more experience doing the kind of work they’d like to put in their portfolio and hope to develop a strong portfolio during their time in the program. We are not looking for a polished portfolio - we want to see the kind of work you enjoy doing. What projects have you been passionate about? Please share samples of your work.
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.
Master's program: Financial considerations
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. All tuition and fee rates are here. (Refer to the “Professional Master's" sheet and the column headed "Engineering"). The university also charges fees in addition to tuition. These are outlined on the second page of the rate sheets; they currently amount to about $800 per semester.
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 CU Boulder scholarship page for more information about financial support. We award scholarships annually. If we offer funding for year one, we hope to offer funding again in year two, although scholarships are subject to budget and funding availability and on the conditions of the scholarship (minimum GPA, etc.).
University policy forbids professional MS students to work in RA or TA positions. Professional master's students are eligible for paid hourly positions and scholarships. Paid positions are advertised widely to students each year.
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.
Boulder has a robust creative and technology community. We are a major hub for start-ups and technology companies. It’s also a pretty welcoming community, with lots of engagement and opportunity for students and early professionals.
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 2022, among the ATLAS PhD program's 28 alumni, eight 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.
For those applying for admission in fall 2022, 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. If you're looking for a practice based PhD you might be interested in two programs offered by the College of Media, Communication and Information: the PhD in Emergent Technologies and Media Art Practices and the PhD in Intermedia Arts, Writing and Performance.
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.