Master's Program

Successful completion of the master's program requires:

10 Three-Credit Courses or 8 with a Thesis

Course and Grade Requirements

Non-Thesis Option
Thesis Option

Plan of Study

Advisory Committee

Ethics Requirement

Communication Requirement

Courses and Grade Requirements

Up to six semester-hours of credit for graduate courses taken at other institutions may be transferred with the approval of the Graduate Committee and the Graduate School. The grades must be A or B or the equivalent. Application for transfer is made when the plan of study is submitted for approval. Students may ask the Graduate Committee to accept equivalent graduate courses taken at other institutions in lieu of at most two of the above courses.

Instructions on Course Transfer

Courses used to fulfill the requirements for other degrees (at Purdue or elsewhere) are not eligible for use on master's plans of study, except that courses used for a doctoral degree may be used on a master's plan of study provided the doctoral plan of study does not include any course used for any other master's degree.

For the Non-Thesis Option

Three core courses: CS 50200 or 56500, CS 50300 or 53600, and CS 58000. These represent the areas Systems I, Systems II, and Algorithms in the Areas and Courses Table.

Four other courses from the table. These must include courses from at least two areas other than Systems I, Systems II, and Algorithms.

Three more Level 5 or 6 courses (not necessarily in Computer Science), at most two of which may be individual study courses.

Approved Courses List

For the Thesis Option

Three core courses: CS 50200 or 56500, CS 50300 or 53600, and CS 58000. These represent the areas Systems I, Systems II, and Algorithms in the Areas and Courses Table.

Four other courses from the table. These must include courses from at least two areas other than Systems I, Systems II, and Algorithms.

One more Level 5 or 6 course (not necessarily in Computer Science), which may not be an individual study course.

At least six credit hours of CS 69800, Research. M.S. Thesis. The thesis must be presented in an oral defense before the advisory committee.

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Plan of Study

Courses used to fulfill degree requirements must be listed on a plan of study and submitted for approval by the Graduate Committee and the Graduate School well before the final session. Grades in the A range (A+, A, A-) or B range are expected, but one or two grades in the C range may be accepted if they are compensated by grades in the A range (regardless of + and -). Other grades are unacceptable. The GPA of the courses on the plan must be at least 3.0. CS 69800, Research. M.S. Thesis, is not listed on the plan of study.

Master's programs usually take three or four semesters. The practical maximum load is four courses per semester and two in the summer session. Students with assistantships rarely take more than three courses per semester and one in the summer session. Completing a master's program within twelve months is sometimes possible for well-prepared, industrious students.

Instructions for Filing a Plan of Study

Graduation Deadline Calendar:

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Advisory Committee

For students in a non-thesis master's program, the advisory committee is determined by the graduate committee.

For students in a thesis master's program, the advisory committee consists of the supervisor of the research plus two or more other faculty members agreed upon by the student and the supervisor. Qualified faculty from other departments may serve on the committee but may not form a majority of it.

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Ethics Requirement

All MS students must fulfill an ethics requirement.  This is currently to be fulfilled by attending the ethics lecture of the CS 59100 Research Seminar for First-Year Graduate Students once during the first year.  The seminar is offered only in the fall semester.  An announcement of the date, time, and place of the lecture is sent out ahead of time.  Attendance is taken at the lecture.  MS students cannot register for the seminar: they attend just the one lecture.

All graduate students must also pass the responsible conduct of research (RCR) for Undergraduate Students on-line test at and forward the certificate to the Graduate Office at with the subject "Ethics Requirement". (Go to; Register with Purdue University as your Organization Affiliation; Click on "Add a Course or Update Learner Groups"; Leave Q1 Blank, Check RCR for Undergraduate Students on Q2, put Not at this time for everything else.)

Further information on Responsible Conduct of Research:

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Communication Requirement

All MS students that entered after spring 2008 must demonstrate effectiveness in communication.

For students using the thesis option, this will be assessed in the normal course of their program.

For students using the non-thesis option this can be assessed on the basis of presentations and papers in courses. Students should ask faculty members from whom they have taken a course and in whose judgment they have demonstrated effectiveness in communication to inform the graduate office by sending an e-mail to with the subject "Communication Requirement". Otherwise, the student must write a technical essay at the beginning of the final semester and submit it to the chair of the Graduate Committee for evaluation. A research paper may also be used if the student is the sole author.

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Changes in Requirements

These requirements apply to all students entering or reentering the Department of Computer Sciences at West Lafayette ("the Department") as degree-seeking graduate students in the summer session of 2013 or later. 2008 master's degree requirements

Students are governed by the degree requirements in effect when they enter the Department as degree-seeking students. Students who wish to take advantage of subsequent changes may apply to the Graduate Committee to be governed by all degree requirements in effect at a specified subsequent time. Choosing features from different sets of requirements is not permitted.

For students re-entering, the date of the most recent re-entry determines the degree requirements.

The above requirements for the master's program may change without notice.

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Areas and Courses Table

Algorithms CS 58000


CS 57900

Complexity CS 58400
Databases CS 54100, 54200 64100
Data Mining

CS 57300, 54701*, 57800**

Distributed Systems CS 50500
Geometric Modeling, Visualization, and Graphics CS 53000, 53100, 53500***, 58600
Numerical Computing CS 51400***, 51500, 52000 61400, 61500***
Parallel and Distributed Computing CS 52500, 60300
Security CS 52600, 55500 62600, 65500
Simulation and Modeling CS 54300, 54400
Software Engineering CS 51000
Systems I (Compilers and Programming Languages) CS 50200, 56500 66100
Systems II (Networks and Operating Systems) CS 50300, 53600 63600, 63800

*CS 54701 was CS 59000 008, Information Retrieval, in spring 2009.

**CS 57800 was CS 59000 005, Statistical Machine Learning, in fall 2009 and CS 59000 MLO, Statistical Machine Learning, in spring and fall 2011.

*** when taught by a professor whose primary appointment is in Computer Sciences.