This is a named option within the Computer Sciences MS.

Research specialty areas include artificial intelligence, computational biology, computer architecture, computer graphics, computer networks, computer security, database systems, human–computer interaction, numerical analysis, optimization, performance analysis, programming languages and compilers, systems research, and theoretical computer sciences. See the department website for faculty interests, research activities, courses, facilities, and degree requirements.


Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline December 15
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required but may be considered if available.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not exclusively in English, must provide an English proficiency test score earned within two years of the anticipated term of enrollment. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Requirements for Admission policy:
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Students with a strong background in computer sciences or a related field are encouraged to apply for admission. At a minimum, the applicant should have some programming experience, including courses in data structures and machine organization, and should have had a year of college-level mathematics at the calculus level or above. For more information on admissions, visit the department website

A submitted application is required, consisting of:

  • Resume/CV
  • Statement of purpose
  • Must complete the supplemental application sections
  • Most up-to-date unofficial transcript(s) from all previous higher education institutions, regardless of whether or not a degree was earned (official transcripts are requested of only recommended applicants); international academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation
  • Test scores and three letters of recommendation as detailed above

Contact with questions about admissions in the traditional MS or the PhD programs.

Please see the Professional Program admission page for professional program admissions information.


Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Funding is offered to about half of the students to whom admission is offered. Funding is usually in the form of fellowships, teaching assistantships, or research assistantships. Because computer science skills are in demand, students who are admitted without funding are often able to find graduate assistantships on campus. The department website provides information on funding options and offers suggestions for those who are admitted without department funding.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Named Option Requirements 

Mode of Instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 15 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy:
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Refer to the Graduate School: Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement policy:
Other Grade Requirements No other grade requirements.
Assessments and Examinations None.
Language Requirements No language requirements.

Required Courses

24 credits must be Computer Sciences (COMP SCI) courses numbered 400 or above. The following courses are not allowed to count toward these 24 credits:

In addition, at least 15 of the 24 credits must be Core Credits, which are Computer Sciences (COMP SCI) courses numbered 700-889 graded on A-F scale with the following exclusions/qualifications:

  • COMP SCI 790 Master's Thesis normally counts towards core credit. In rare instances, the thesis supervisor or committee may (at the time of evaluation of the thesis work) designate credit awarded for COMP SCI 790 as ineligible for core credit; credit awarded under this scenario may still count towards the 24 qualifying Computer Sciences credits. Credit for COMP SCI 790 is provided as follows: (a) A student can obtain at most 3 credits, all for a project for which a report has been filed with the department and approved by at least one full-time Computer Science faculty member, or (b) the student can obtain at most 6 credits, for a master's thesis that has been submitted as a departmental tech report and approved by a properly formed thesis committee.
  • Among the topics courses COMP SCI 758,  COMP SCI 839 and COMP SCI 880, a maximum of one such course can be used as core credit.
  • COMP SCI 838 is not allowed to count towards Core Credits.

The remaining 6 credits can be from any subject. COMP SCI/​B M E/​B M I/​BIOCHEM/​CBE/​GENETICS  915 can be taken multiple times for credit.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Named Option-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions

No credits taken at other institutions are allowed to satisfy requirements.

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

No credits from an other institution or UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

No credits from a UW-Madison Professional degree (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, or Veterinary career) are allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits Earned as a University Special Student at UW–Madison

With program approval, students are allowed to transfer no more than 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Of the 15 credits of allowable prior coursework, a maximum of 6 credits are allowed for courses numbered 300-399 and COMP SCI 400. Courses must have been taken post-baccalaureate. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


At the end of any regular (nonsummer) semester, a student is considered to be making satisfactory academic progress (SAP) if the following conditions are all satisfied:

  • The student has completed at least 6 (if full load) or 3 (if part load) credits of approved courses during the semester.
  • The student has removed all Incomplete grades from any previous regular semester or summer session.
  • The student has passed any required exams and procedures within designated time limits.

Any graduate student who fails to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) during two consecutive regular semesters (fall and spring, or spring and fall) will be dismissed from the department at the end of the subsequent summer session. Any graduate student who fails to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) due to missed deadlines will be dismissed from the department at the end of the subsequent summer session.

Advisor / Committee

Students are advised by the Computer Sciences Graduate Advising Committee. These advisors must formally approve the student's initial course plan, and the courses taken each semester.

Credits Per Term Allowed

15 credits

Time Limits

Refer to the Graduate School: Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.



Professional Development

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Program Resources

The Department of Computer Sciences hosts many professional development opportunities, including job fairs, workshops, seminars, talks, employer information sessions, mentoring, and student socials. The Department of Computer Sciences student organizations, Student-ACM (SACM) and Women's ACM (WACM), are active partners in providing professional development opportunities for computer sciences graduate students.


Visit the CS website to view our department faculty and staff.