Table of Contents

The Graduate School provides general requirements for the Master of Science in all departments at CU Boulder. The following requirements specifically pertain to students pursuing a Master of Science in the Department of Computer Science. It supplements the Graduate School requirements; in all cases not specifically mentioned below, the general Graduate School requirements are understood to apply.

While pursuing the course based MS degree in CS, you may select between two options:

Course Requirements

The course-based MS requires 30 total credits of approved graduate-level courses. 

View the pre-fall 2019 course requirements

Breadth courses requirement (9 credits) 

Computer Science courses are listed in three bins. All students must earn a B or better (not a B-) in one 5000-level course (not 6000 or higher) from each of the bins.

  • Breadth Course Bins 
    • One course required from each of three bins (9 credits)
    • Highly recommended to complete this requirement by end of year 1.
    • Bins get updated every 2-3 years.
    • By petition to the Graduate Committee, similar transferred graduate work done elsewhere may be used to satisfy part of this requirement. 

Elective Courses (15 credits)

  • One THREE credit class may be Professional Internship class.
  • Any 15 credits with the following restrictions
    • No more than two non-CS classes: Students may take no more than total 6 credits of non-CS classes and count towards their degree requirement,  as long as these classes are at graduate level (5XXX and above) and are offered at CU Boulder.
    • Professional MS students cannot count any research related courses towards their degree - for example, CSCI 5000, CSCI 5100, CSCI 6000, CSCI 6100, CSCI 6200, or any other one credit research seminar based classes (for ex. ATLS 7000, CSCI 7772, CSCI 7412, CSCI 7422) or independent study courses towards their degree requirements. 
    • CSEN students may not take NetEng Fundamentals classes (CSCI 5010; CSCI 5020 or CSCI 5030) and count towards their degree.

Projects courses (6 credits)

Total six credits of projects-based classes selected from one of the following options.

  • Option 1 – CSCI 5040 (3 credits) + CSCI 5050 (3 credits) – PMP Projects class - part 1 in fall of year 2 and part 2 in spring of Year 2.
  • Option 2 –  CSCI 5340 (3 credits) + CSCI 5350 (3 credits) – Entrepreneurial Projects class – part 1 in fall of year 2 and part 2 in spring of year 2.

Project courses need to be taken during Year 2 of the students academic tenure here.

Students may submit the online petition to request for a waiver from this requirement under following conditions:

  • A PMP student with a minimum of 2 years of software industry experience may take 3 credits of professional internship class and request a waiver of the two-semester capstone. If approved, such students may take another 6 credits of approved CS classes instead of the capstone.

  • A PMP student with a minimum of 5 years of software industry experience may request a waiver of the two-semester capstone. If approved, they may take another 6 credits of approved CS classes instead of the capstone.

  • Students who completed similar classes during their undergrad at CU Boulder, for example CU Boulder CSEN BS and CSEN-BAM students completing Sr. Capstone projects also receive a waiver from this requirement. No petitions required.

Transfer Credit

Master's students may request a maximum of nine semester hours taken at another University or within CU (either taken as a non-degree student OR taken as a non-CS student) to be transferred. All transfer requests must have departmental approval, please reach out to your graduate advisor for steps on how to request review of credits. You will need your syllabi, unofficial copy of your transcript, and a confirmation that the classes have not been used towards any other degree (Bachelor’s or higher). 

Plan of Study

Students will be expected to submit a plan of study, in consultation with their departmental advisor, during the first semester of study. Changes to the plan of study must be approved by the advisor.

Thesis vs. Non-Thesis

Students opting for course based MS degree do not have the thesis option or the independent study research option, as this is a “course-only” degree. The research-oriented plan is only available to research-based MS degree students.

The Graduate School requires that to receive a Master's degree a student must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 in all courses taken as a graduate student.


Course-based Master's students are split amongst the graduate program advisor, please check your BuffPortal to see who your advisor is. The person in this role serves as their academic advisor throughout a student’s academic program. Students consult with their advisor to plan their course of study.

Adequate Progress

Any student who does not enroll for any course work relevant to Computer Science in any one semester (summer semesters excluded) must supply the department with a written statement describing the reasons for such inactivity and the student's current intentions concerning work towards the degree. This statement must be received by the department by the end of the eighth week of the semester in question. Failure to do so will be regarded as evidence of a lack of interest in continuing in the program. Similarly, any student who does not enroll for any Computer Science course work for three consecutive semesters (summer semesters excluded) will be regarded as showing a lack of interest in continuing in the program. In either case, the student may be asked to explain to the department why the student should not be removed from the degree program, with the department making the final decision on the removal.


The Graduate School requires that to receive a master's degree, a student must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 in all courses taken as a graduate student. No grade lower than a C can be counted towards the master's degree. No grades lower than B can be counted towards breadth requirement or the sub-plan requirements.

Time Limit

All requirements for the course based MS degree must be completed within four years of the start of course work.

Switching to the Research-Based MS

You may switch to the research-based MS degree once for genuine academic reasons on a case-by-case basis via petition to the Graduate Committee and upon recommendation from the faculty member willing to supervise/advise the research work. You may not switch during the term you plan to graduate. Your last term officially begins after census date of the prior term.

Process you request for the switch:

  • Look for a facutly advisor who is willing to be your research advisor. Students have many opportunities to make connections with the faculty - like the pre-research advising sessions in Fall, research expo, resaerch talks, attending that faculty's class etc.
  • Reach out to the faculty and discuss your plans.
  • Facutly advisor emails Grad Advisor their letter of support and requests for your switch.
  • Student then fills out the petition form and uploads this form to the online petition when submitting. They may upload the faculty advisor's letter with their petition. 

Academic Standards

Minimum Grades & GPA Requirements

Students must complete a total of 30 credit hours of approved graduate level course work with a grade of C or better and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00.

Any student, who fails to maintain a 3.00 grade point average or to make adequate progress toward completing a degree, as assessed by the student’s academic/research advisor, will be subject to suspension or dismissal from the Graduate School upon consultation with the major department. The final decision on suspension or dismissal will be made by the Dean of the Graduate School. See the Graduate School Rules for additional information.

Incomplete (I) Grades

An incomplete (I) grade is given only when students, for documented reasons beyond their control, have been unable to complete course requirements in the semester enrolled. A substantial amount of work must have been satisfactorily completed before approval of such a grade is given. The final grade (earned by completing the course requirements or by retaking the course) does not result in the deletion of the (I) from the transcript. A second entry is posted on the transcript to show the final grade for the course. At the end of one year, (I) grades for courses that are not completed or repeated are regarded as (F) and are shown as such on the student’s transcript. Courses with grades of (I) are not included in the computation of grade point averages until a final letter grade has been awarded in that course.

Graduation Checklist

The following Graduate School forms must be submitted to the TCP Program for approval.

IMPORTANT: Check the Graduate School deadlines prior to the start of the semester.

MS CSEN Course based Option

  • Apply to Graduate. Students must apply through the CU Buff Portal to graduate. This notifies the Graduate School and your department that you intend to graduate. If you do not complete the requirements for graduation, you must log back in and re-apply to graduate for the new graduation date. You must apply to graduate online whether or not you plan to attend the ceremony.
  • Candidacy Application for Advanced Degree