Graduate Program

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. In cooperation with the Department of Mathematics, the Department also offers graduate degrees in Computational Operations Research. Defining qualities of the graduate program include the opportunity for easy interaction with faculty, and excellence in research and teaching.

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 (eight of them have received prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Awards from the National Science Foundation, and one has received a Young Investigator Award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research) or to industrial research and development positions.

Graduate students benefit from the strong research funding received by the department's faculty, which allows faculty members to offer competitive Research Assistantship positions. Federal agencies that support research within the department include the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of Naval Research, and NASA. Faculty and graduate students also collaborate with, and receive support from, major IT firms, including IBM, HP Labs, and Google, to name a few. In addition, the proximity of NASA Langley Research Center, the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (TJNAF), and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) offer further opportunities for collaborative research.

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. The department also offers the M.S. with a specialization in either Computational Operations Research xor Computational Sciences. Students earning an M.S. from any of the department's master's programs can elect to continue for the Ph.D. in Computer Science.

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. By the time they finish the coursework required to satisfy candidacy requirements (in four semesters or less), students are expected to have identified a principal research advisor to direct their dissertation. Graduation requires the successful defense of a dissertation based on original research that contributes to the body of knowledge in the student's chosen area of research.

Areas of Research and Study:

The Computer Science Department provides a strong research program with faculty actively engaged in research in the following areas: algorithms, computer systems and networking, high performance computing, modeling and simulation, programming languages and compilers, software verification, software engineering, graphics, security, and scientific computing. Visit our Research Projects page to learn more about active research projects.  To learn more about the research accomplishments of our graduate students, visit our Graduate Portfolio.

For questions about the graduate program, please send email to