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Graduate Program

Highlights

Our students and faculty publish their research at top conferences and journals.

Our research is funded by competitive external funding agencies.

An active intellectual life outside the classroom: Hackathons, contests, research, and conferences.

The Department of Computer Science at William & Mary offers a stimulating, collegial environment in which to pursue M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science. These degrees may be specialized in Computational Science. In cooperation with the Department of Mathematics, the Department also offers graduate degrees in Computational Operations Research.

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Defining qualities of the graduate program include the opportunity for easy interaction with faculty, and excellence in research and teaching. 

Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. program prepares students for research careers in either academia or industry. The program generally can be completed in five years or less of graduate study: four semesters of classwork, followed by a dissertation. 

We offer two options for the Ph.D. (links go to the Catalog requirements):

Though there is no "official" Ph.D. Degree in Computational Operations Research, both the Applied Science and Computer Science Ph.D. degrees can be tailored to concentrate in COR. Students admitted to the Master's program for COR must reapply to the Computer Science Ph.D program. 

M.S. Degree Programs
M.S. Degree Program for Students with a B.S./B.A./B.Eng. in a Computing-Related Discipline

The M.S. programs are appropriate for students who intend either to improve their professional skills or to prepare for doctoral studies in computer science. The requirements for an M.S. degree normally can be completed in two years or less, even without prior graduate-level coursework in computer science. 

We offer three different paths to a Master’s in Computer Science (links go to Catalog requirements):

Particularly well-prepared undergraduate students may obtain an M.S. in Computer Science in 12 or 15 months after receiving their bachelors degrees. 

Students earning an M.S. from us may continue for the Ph.D. in Computer Science, though students admitted to the Computational Operations Research program must reapply.

Four-Plus-One Year M.S. Degree Program for Current W&M CS Undergraduate Students

The department offers a program designed to enable particularly well-prepared students to obtain an M.S. in Computer Science 12 or 15 months after receiving their bachelors degrees.

Plan of Study:

  1. Take CSCI 141, 241, 243, 303, 304 and 312 (thereby obtaining a minor in computer science). You must have earned a B or better in these courses, and have an overall GPA of 3.0 by the end of your Junior year to qualify for this program.
  2. By the end of your Junior year, register your interest in the One-Year-M.S. with the Department of Computer Science. Following registration, a computer science advisor will be assigned to you, if needed.
  3. In your Senior year take any two of the following courses for graduate credit: CSCI 520, 523, 524, 526, 527, 534, 535, 542, 544. (All of these are cross-listed as 400-level courses and are offered once per year.)
  4. During the Fall semester of your Senior year, apply for regular admission to the Computer Science Graduate Program, clearly indicating an interest in the One-year M.S. Degree Program.
  5. If admitted, you will select a research advisor. You will work with this advisor to complete the remaining M.S. requirements.

The one-year M.S. degree is based on the standard 32-hour, non-thesis M.S. degree option. Two of these 32 hours must be satisfied by passing CSCI 710; the other 30 hours correspond to 10, three-credit computer science graduate courses. To complete a M.S. degree in just one year of study two of these ten courses must be taken for graduate credit while still an undergraduate [pdf]. The other eight courses would be taken, four per semester, in two intensive semesters of graduate study. CSCI 710 may be completed either in your final semester or in the summer after you complete the coursework.

Bridge to CS M.S. Degree Program for Students with Non-CS Bachelor Degree 

CS@W&M Bridge provides a direct path to a CS Master’s degree for students of any undergraduate discipline.   The program will provide a tailored curriculum and the student will be assigned a dedicated advisor. The student will join a cohort with other CS@W&M Bridge students to learn with a supportive community of engaged peers.

Start with the fundamentals. Completing rigorous undergraduate CS courses will prepare the student for Master’s coursework. These courses can be completed in 2 semesters (including Summer).

Expand your knowledge. Continue to the MS as a full-time or part-time student. The MS can be completed in 2 years of full-time enrollment.

What students will experience:

  • Learn foundational technical skills and computing principles from renowned faculty at a world-class research CS Department.
  • Flexibility through a mix of online and in-person coursework.
  • Complete hands-on projects with real-world applications.
  • Learn to ask compelling questions, work productively in teams, and communicate your ideas effectively.
  • Full access to student and career services offered by W&M.

MS Pathways Admission. The W&M CSCI Pathways Program helps bridge students from other academic majors to the MS in CSCI program.   Applicants should apply directly to the MS program and the faculty admissions committee will review their record.   Students accepted into the Pathways Program will be given an individual plan for completing background courses and will be moved directly into the MS program after successful completion of those recommended background courses.

The web link to the online application and information about the process can be found at:

http://www.wm.edu/as/graduate/admission/index.php

Course Requirements before moving to MS courses. A degree in computer science is not required for admission to the MS program.  However, we do expect applicants to have background coursework in CS and Math. These are the background courses that are typically required before proceeding with MS-level courses; however, the exact individual requirements will be worked out with a faculty advisor and will take into account student’s academic and professional CS background:

To achieve regular status as an MS student, accepted students must earn at least a B in each qualifying course.

More details on our MS program can be found here:

https://catalog.wm.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=27&poid=5319

Financial Support

The department has both state-supported teaching assistantships and federally-supported research assistantships. It is unusual for an incoming student to be supported on a federal research grant, most first-year graduate students are teaching assistants. If you have a background that automatically qualifies you for particular kinds of aid (e.g., minority fellowships), the department will automatically apply for these on your behalf.

Assistantships currently pay a monthly stipend, plus tuition. Assistantships can be for either the nine-month academic year, or for twelve months. Living expenses and other fees (books, etc.) are your responsibility.

All teaching assistants are expected to work about 20 hours per week. Duties fall into one or more of the following types:

  1. Helping maintain our Unix/Linux network. These students add new user accounts, install new workstations, install new software, etc. A strong background in C and Unix/Linux is expected.
  2. Teaching laboratory sections for both our introductory course for non-majors and the beginning programming course. In addition to a knowledge of the subject matter, good "people skills" are important.
  3. Grading various undergraduate courses.

None of these duties are assigned until the day before classes start and may vary from one semester to another. Some students, after they have been here at least a semester, may be hired onto a research grant.

Courses

Courses cover topics that range from data structures, software engineering, and algorithms to computer animation and game design. See the Graduate Catalog to explore the complete list of Computer Science courses.

Student Activities

Several W&M student organizations support computer science graduate students in their studies and careers. These include our local chapter of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), the largest organization of computing professionals, and the Society for Women in Computing, our local chapter of ACM-W.

Careers

Established in 1986, the graduate program features an outstanding placement record for its graduates.

Students earning an M.S. have found employment with computer system manufacturers, with software development companies, with technical consulting firms, and within the aerospace and defense industries; several have founded or joined start-up companies.

Students earning a Ph.D. have gone on either to tenure-track academic positions or to industrial research and development positions.

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