Graduate Degrees Offered
We offer the following two degree programs only:
The Master's degree at Princeton is a two year, full-time program. All admitted students will initially be enrolled in the Master of Science in Engineering (M.S.E.), thesis-required track. In the spring of year 1, as part of readmission, all students will be given the option to switch to the Master of Engineering (M.Eng.), non-thesis track. Students opting to remain on the M.S.E. track must have a confirmed research adviser and should also have a preliminary thesis proposal. Switching tracks will be permitted through January of year 2.
All coursework must be taken for a grade. A minimum of 4 courses must be taken in year 1. If, due to scheduling conflicts,this is not possible, approval by the Director of Graduate Studies is required. In no event will time to degree be extended beyond two years.
Funding is normally in the form of teaching assistantships covering the four semesters of the program. Summer funding for M.S.E. candidates in the form of a research assistantship may be offered at the adviser's discretion.
Students wishing to continue on for a Ph.D. should apply through the normal application process during the fall of their second year of study.
The M.S.E. program is a two year, full-time program of coursework plus submission of an original thesis. Candidates choose a subarea of computer science on which to focus by taking appropriate courses, and writing a thesis under the direction of an adviser. Course requirements are fulfilled by taking six courses for a grade, at least three of which must be 500-level courses. The other eligible courses are 318, 320, 324, 326, 343, 352, 375, or any 400-level course, or 500-level COS course, including COS 597 and 598. You may view a list of approved courses outside of the department here. Relevant courses from outside the department may be taken with Director of Graduate Studies consent. Candidates must maintain a B average, with no more than one C allowed. In order to be readmitted for a second year, candidates must have a confirmed thesis adviser and preliminary thesis proposal by the end of the first year.
In addition to satisfactory completion of coursework, candidates must prepare and submit an original thesis as well as present a public seminar on the research. The thesis will be reviewed and graded by your adviser plus one additional reader from the Princeton faculty. If the reader is from outside the Computer Science Department, approval by the Director of Graduate Studies is required. The public seminar is an ungraded 20 minute talk, followed by a 10 minute question session, given in the spring of year 2. This will allow your adviser and reader to give preliminary feedback prior to submission of the final thesis.
The written thesis should be a research paper of "scholarly quality" -- making a novel contribution to scholarship in the field. The thesis should motivate the chosen research problem, evaluate the proposed solution (e.g., via analysis, measurement, simulation, or prototype implementation), and compare the approach to the related work in the field. While there is no specific length requirement, a reasonable target is a typical conference paper (e.g., 10-15 pages in two-column format or 20-40 pages in single-column, double spaced format). Due date will be Dean's Date in the spring term of year 2. After being graded, one bound copy of the final version must be submitted to Mudd Library and a.pdf file is due to the Graduate Coordinator. Click here to review Mudd Library Thesis formatting guidelines.
Candidates electing to switch to the M.Eng degree track must complete a total of eight courses over two years, and are not required to submit a thesis. Three of the eight must be 500-level, and the additional courses may be chosen from 318, 320, 324, 326, 343, 352, 375, any 400-level course, or 500-level COS course, including COS 597 and 598. Relevant courses from outside the department may be taken with Director of Graduate Studies consent. All courses must be taken for a grade. You may view a list of approved courses outside of the department here. Candidates must maintain a B average, with no more than one C allowed.
For Princeton undergraduates interested in continuing at Princeton for a Master's Degree: There is now a special policy that allows current Princeton students to count up to two courses taken as an undergraduate towards a Master's degree in Computer Science at Princeton. Those two courses must be upper-level COS courses that fulfill requirements of the Master's degree and have been taken in excess of the COS requirements for the undergraduate degree. For example, if you take ten COS departmentals as an undergraduate at Princeton, and two of them are advanced classes that satisfy requirements of the Master's program, then you can count both towards a Master's degree if you are accepted into the program. This is a way to reduce your expected time to completion by approximately one semester.
Princeton students still have to apply to the Master's program through the regular admission process, and by the December 15 deadline. Admission is competitive. If you are interested in being pre-screened for admission, please contact the computer science graduate coordinator (gradinfo@cs). You will need to submit (1) a one page personal statement describing your preparation to date and why you are interested in the master's program; and (2) an unofficial copy of your transcript. In addition, have two letters of recommendation from COS professors emailed directly to the graduate coordinator. Once these materials have been received, the Director of Graduate studies will perform an informal review and provide feedback about whether admission into the Master's program is "likely," "unlikely," or "possible." This feedback is not binding -- it is meant only to help planning for senior year.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
The departmental Ph.D. program complies with the regulations of the Graduate School. This is a full-time program only. In addition to the information contained on this website, the Graduate School Catalog should be reviewed by all prospective applicants. This program is aimed at Ph.D. research and training students for careers in research and teaching.
All non-native English speakers who have not received a university-level degree from a U.S. college or university must pass the University's mandatory English Language Program by the end of their first year of study. Incoming students will be tested upon arrival, and may be required to participate in further English study. Students who do not pass by the end of their first year will not be readmitted.
Incoming students are assigned a first year academic adviser, who may or may not become their research adviser. During their first year students are expected to talk with faculty and secure a research adviser by the end of the academic year.
Teaching experience is considered to be a significant part of graduate education. All Ph.D. candidates are required to assist with course instruction for the equivalent of two terms.
All students must fulfill the competency requirements.
The general examination, taken during year 2, consists of a research seminar prepared under the supervision of a faculty member, followed by an in-depth oral examination on the contents of the seminar and the associated general area of research. Original research results do not have to be presented, but problems whose solution may lead to a thesis should be discussed. In many cases, the student's thesis is in the same area as the research seminar, but this is not required.
A final public oral examination (FPO) is required of all Ph.D. candidates. The FPO is taken after the candidate's dissertation has been accepted, and is primarily a defense of the dissertation. In preparation for the FPO, a preliminary FPO (preFPO) is held six months before the expected completion date. It covers results to date and planned research, and serves as a preliminary critique of the proposed dissertation.