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Comparison of the Master of Science and Professional Master's

The Master of Science in CS (MSCS) and Professional Master of CS (MCS) degree programs are similar but different.

Admission Differences

  • The Admission Criteria are slightly higher for the MSCS than the MCS.
  • The GRE can be waived for some MCS applicants.
  • Applicants for the MSCS program who are rejected are automatically considered for admission to the MCS program.

Degree Requirement Differences

  • The MSCS requires 32 credit hours to complete; the MCS requires 30 credit hours (33 for the application area specializations).
  • The MSCS requires requires four Core Courses; the MCS requires three.
  • MSCS students can do a full Master's Thesis (but are not required to).
  • MCS students can take CS Professional ("CSP") courses.
  • The MSCS does not offer specializations; MSCS students, however, can take CS-oriented MCS specialization courses as electives.

Program Similarities

  • Both MSCS and MCS students can do a Master's Project (but not are required to).
  • The CS 401-799 courses are equally applicable to the MSCS and MCS (except for the Master's thesis course).

      Specific to the MSCS program

      Common to the MSCS and MCS programs

      Specific to the MCS program

Master of Science in CS (MSCS)  
32 credit hours required No specializations available  
4 core courses required CS 401-590, 595, 600-799 available CS Professional courses available
CS 591 (Master's Thesis) available, not required CS 597 (Master's Project) available, not required 3 core courses required

Specializations available

30 or 33 credit hours required

  Professional Master of CS (MCS)

Fig. 1: Venn Diagram Comparison of the MSCS and MCS programs

Figure 1 above summarizes the similarities and differences between the programs.

Which Program Should I Apply To?

  • Both programs prepare students for careers as working professionals in computer science.
  • The MSCS is slightly more theoretically-oriented, since it requires one more Theory core course than the MCS.
  • If you want a specialization or you want to take CS Professional courses, these are only available under the MCS program.
  • If you plan to continue studying for a Ph.D., you should consider doing a full Master's Thesis, which is only available under the MSCS program.
  • If you're not sure which program you want, we suggest applying to the MSCS program. If you're accepted, it's easy to change to the MCS program later; if you're rejected for the MSCS program, you'll automatically be considered for the MCS program.