Online Masters in Computer Science FAQ

Admissions Questions

  1. What if I miss the deadline for applying for the next session?

    As a practical matter the only deadlines are very close to the start of the term in which you plan to officially become a degree-seeking graduate student (perhaps six weeks before the start of the term). Since students can take up to three courses prior to admission and count them later in the degree, application deadlines should not be much of a concern for anyone.

  2. May I start taking courses before being officially admitted to the graduate program?

    Yes, up to three courses may be taken prior to admission and still be counted towards the degree.

  3. Must I take the GRE?

    The GRE exam is recommended, but not required, for all domestic MCS applicants. International students without a transcript from a university located in the US must submit GRE scores showing a minimum of 75th percentile on the quantitative section of the exam.

  4. Must I take the TOEFL?

    All applicants coming from countries in which English is not the official language, and who do not have an undergraduate degree from a country in which the official language is English (Canada, U.K., Australia, USA, New Zealand, etc.) must take the TOEFL or IELTS and earn at least a 92 on the internet-base exam or a minimum of 6.5 on the IELTS. The TOEFL may be waived for applicants who have been living in the USA for at least three years if they request a waiver. Please contact us for details.

About My Background

  1. I don't have a background in computer science, what 'bridge' courses must I take to become prepared to do CS graduate work?

    Students entering the masters program are expected to be fluent in an object-oriented language (e.g., Java or C++). You should also have coursework in:

    • Discrete Mathematics
    • Data Structures and Algorithms
    • Computer Organization/Architecture
    • Software Engineering
    • Operating Systems

    We do not offer these courses online, though other schools may. These are very common undergraduate computer science courses and are widely available.

  2. Will you accept my Bachelor's degree from ...?

    The Graduate School makes these decisions. Contact the Graduate School

  3. I have a 3 year B.S. degree from India, China, Germany, Canada, Australia, etc. -- can I be admitted to the Masters program?

    Only persons with degrees equivalent to U.S. bachelors degrees are qualified to apply for admission. A 3 year degree is not equivalent to the U.S. bachelor degree. (Nor is the 3 year degree plus 1 year of a second degree).

  4. I have several years of experience as a software engineer. Am I qualified to enroll in CS414?

    Probably. Please check the course web page CS414 about the course. Also check the CS314 web page CS314 (the prerequisite for CS414). You may want to review the CS314 text to determine if your background is sufficient.

  5. What if my undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0?

    Applicants who show exceptional promise for success may be admitted to the program with less than a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. You may want to consider taking two or three CS courses before applying for admission. If your grades in these courses are good (A's and B's), we can more easily admit you to the Masters program.

Transfer Credits

  1. May I apply some courses from other universities toward my Masters degree?

    Applicants with graduate work in computer science from another university may petition to apply up to 12 hours towards their Masters in CS at CSU. Credit cannot be given officially until a student is admitted. However, students having prior coursework covering topics similar to those found in 500- and 600-level CS courses at CSU from accredited institutions, and passed with a grade of B or better, are very likely to have such requests granted.

  2. Can I use computer science courses taken as part of my undergraduate degree towards my Masters?

    No. Courses used to complete one degree may not be used towards another.

The Program

  1. Is the online Masters program accredited?

    No graduate programs in computer science are reviewed for accreditation in the United States by organizations like CSAB/ABET, but Colorado State University is a state-funded regionally accredited Carnegie I research institution (there is no higher level of accreditation in the USA).

    The online version of the Masters of Computer Science program is identical to the resident Masters of Computer Science program.

  2. Is financial support available?

    The CSU CS department does not offer financial aid to distance education students. There may be federal or state programs providing grants or loans for distance education. Please contact the Financial Aid Office.

  3. Do you offer a Ph.D online?

    Since the PhD is a research degree, it must be completed in close cooperation with researchers. This collaborative learning experience is not well suited to distance education in the opinion of our faculty. We therefore do not offer the PhD through distance education.

  4. Am I limited to taking the courses that are offered during a specific term, or can I take any of the courses during any term?

    Courses run during two 16 week terms per year, plus a 12 week summer term, and must be completed on a schedule within the term in which they are taken. The fall semester runs from late August to mid-December, the spring semester runs from late January to mid-May, and the summer runs from mid May to early August. Students must join a course at the beginning of the term, or wait until the next semester.

  5. How much does the program cost?

    9 courses are required for the MCS degree. Current tuition is $649 per credit (courses are 4 credits), so tuition is $2,596 per course.

    Note that tuition and registration for online courses is separate from that for on campus courses. All online students pay the same tuition regardless of residency (there is no in-state out-of-state tuition distinction for online courses).

  6. Can I work ahead a few weeks in my classes?

    Students are always encouraged to work ahead in their classes.

  7. Can I take this program of study as an individual, or must I be affiliated with a participating company?

    Anyone who pays tuition can take courses.

  8. Where can I get more information about your online Masters degree programs?

    click here.

  9. How long will the program take to complete?

    How long it takes depends on how many courses you take at one time. Taking one course per semester (including summer) would enable one to complete the degree in approximately 3 years. More energetic students may be able to take 2 courses during the fall and spring semesters, and finish in 2 years.

  10. How do I register for online classes?

    Registration for online courses is done through the Continuing Education web site:

    and *not* through the on-campus registration system (RamWeb).

    Registering for courses is similar to buying a book on Amazon: go to the "Courses" tab and click on "Credit Courses". This will lead you to a listing of subjects, and go to the courses listed under "Computer Science." You can use the filter to select courses being offered in the next term, find the course you wish to take, and add it.