The Master of Science

The Master of Science (MS) program is intended for students planning to pursue a professional career directly after finishing the MS program, rather than continuing into a PhD program.  The MS program is also suitable for students interested in undertaking a research project but who are not sure yet whether they want to make the multi-year commitment to a PhD program.

The purpose of the program is to expand the student’s depth of knowledge substantially beyond the BA/BS in Computer Science or related field.  The department offers a one-year MS  and a two-year MS.

One-year MS degree:

The one-year program is the most common terminal MS degree in Yale Computer Science. In the one-year Master of Science (MS) program, a student must pass eight courses from an approved list of courses. A student in the one-year MS program on a visa must take a full course load of four courses per semester that count towards the MS requirements. A student who does not require a visa may study part time and complete the degree over a period of up to four years. CPSC692, a one-term independent project course, may also count towards the eight-course requirement provided that the M.S. adviser approves and a faculty member is willing to supervise the project applying the same standards as for a PhD student project. The faculty members are under no obligation to supervise independent projects for MS students.

There is no commitment to provide financial assistance to students in the one-year MS program. Occasionally there are teaching fellow positions available for one-year MS students. For students studying full time, because of the time commitment required for teaching, such positions are reserved for students in their second term who have established a strong academic record at Yale. Standard 10-hour teaching fellow (TF) positions are paid a small stipend, but do not cover the cost of tuition.

Upon acceptance, students may choose to follow the General Track, or may apply to one of the Specialized Tracks in Bioinformatics or in Computing and the Arts. Students in the General Track are advised by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). Students in the Specialized Tracks are advised by track faculty, with their final programs subject to approval by the DGS. Students in specialized tracks follow a set of courses that prepare them to do a one term independent project in the area of specialization.

The purpose of Specialized Tracks is to allow the student to work more closely with faculty and students in a chosen area and to do an independent project. Choosing or not choosing a specialized track will not affect whether a student is admitted to the MS program. Participation in specialized tracks is not explicitly annotated on the student’s diploma or transcript.

Two-year MS degree:

In the two-year MS program, a student must pass six courses from an approved list of courses, serve as a 20 hour per week Teaching Fellow for all four terms, and complete a research thesis. Typically, a very small number of students will be accepted into the two-year program. While there is no process to automatically transfer into the PhD program, students who successfully complete the two-year program with thesis will be eligible for consideration for admission with acceleration to the Computer Science Department doctoral program.

Year One In the first year of the two-year program the student must take two courses from the list of approved courses each term. The student must also serve as a 20 hour per week Teaching Fellow each term. The combination of the two courses and the teaching requirement is defined as full time study in the two-year program. In the first year the student should also identify an adviser for their second-year thesis project.

Year Two In the second year of the two-year program the student must take one course from the list of approved courses each term. The student must continue to serve as a 20 hour per week TF each term. The student must a complete a research thesis. If the student fails to be accepted by a thesis adviser by the beginning of the second year they may complete the MS degree by taking two approved courses in each term instead of one.

Teaching Requirement

English Language Proficiency is required to serve as a Teaching Fellow. Students are required to document proficiency in their application materials in order to be accepted into the two-year program. Methods to document proficiency are given in English Language Proficiency Pathways


Students should apply to the MS program through the Yale Graduate School.  Students in the MS program may enter the Yale PhD program. However, students who wish to continue for a doctoral degree after completing the MS must apply separately for the PhD program, using the standard forms and procedures required for applicants from outside of Yale. The MS is not a prerequisite for the PhD program, and students may apply to the PhD program directly after finishing their undergraduate degree.

Answers to many common questions are given in this FAQ. If you have additional questions about the MS program that are not already answered in the FAQ, contact Prof. Holly Rushmeier.