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M.S.E. Track

The M.S.E. program is a two year, full-time program of coursework plus submission of an original thesis.

Thesis Requirement

Candidates choose a subarea of computer science on which to focus by taking appropriate courses, and writing a thesis under the direction of an advisor.

In order to be readmitted for a second year, candidates must have a confirmed thesis advisor and preliminary thesis proposal by the end of the first year. Students remaining in the MSE program should identify a thesis advisor and submit a 350-500 word thesis proposal abstract (approved by the thesis advisor) by the re-enrollment deadline.

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). 

Thesis is due to the adviser, readers, and Department by December 5, 2023 (December 2023 Graduates only).  May 2024 candidates can find Thesis Deadline dates below at the bottom of this page.
Students may resubmit their thesis with revisions for final archiving by Dean's Date.

After being graded, a PDF of the thesis should be uploaded to Princeton's ETD Administrator site (ProQuest) just prior to completing the final paperwork for the Graduate School. The PDF should be formatted according to our Dissertation Formatting Requirements (PDF download). The Mudd Library will review and approve the submission upon notification from the Graduate School that your final paperwork is ready for this step. Bound copies are no longer required or accepted for Master's theses. 

Course Requirements

MSE course requirements are fulfilled by completion of six courses: three Core courses and three Elective courses.

Candidates must maintain a B average, with no more than one C allowed. All courses must be taken for a letter grade.

  • Core Courses
    • Three COS courses from the following list:
      • COS 475 (ELE 475), 510, 511, 513, 514, 516, 518, 521, 522, 524, 525, 526, 527, 528, 529, 533, 534, 551 (MOL 551), 557 (MOL 557), 561, 563, 583, 584, 585, 597*, 598*
        • *For students who have entered the program prior to Fall 2023
  • Elective Courses
    • Three courses, each of which must satisfy one of the following criteria:
      • COS 318, 320, 324, 326, 343, 352, 375, 597**, 598**
        • **For students entering the program in Fall 2023 and later
      • Any 400-level COS course
      • An additional course that satisfies the Core Course criteria.
      • A non-COS elective from the list here.
        • Relevant non-COS courses not on this list may be added with the Director of Graduate Studies’ consent.

May 2024 Graduates Thesis Deadline Dates:

Prior to April 29, 2024: Present the public seminar on your research (email gradinfo@cs.princeton.edu with your thesis reader and details such date, time, and abstract).  Click here to put your room request in EMS.

  • Note: The public seminar is an ungraded 20 minute talk, followed by a 10 minute question session. This will allow your adviser and reader to give preliminary feedback prior to final submission of the thesis.

April 29, 2024: Thesis due date to Adviser, Reader, and Department (gradinfo@cs.princeton.edu)
May 7, 2024: (Dean's Date): students can re-submit thesis to Adviser, Readers, and Department with revisions for final archiving 
May 8, 2024: Thesis grades (Pass/Fail) due to Department from Adviser

  • Final MSE paperwork approved by Adviser and Department, student moves to May degree list (pending final approval from Graduate School)
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