The Master of Science degree provides a solid foundation in computer science while still offering flexibility to meet the needs and interests of individual students. The M.S degree is completed through either the thesis or the coursework option. The thesis option requires 30 credits of course work of which typically 21 credits must derive from courses. The coursework option requires 33 credits derived from courses. Students in good standing typically complete either degree option in at most two years. The thesis option is strongly encouraged since it provides students with an in-depth research experience, and requires fewer courses.
A student pursuing the Ph.D. degree is expected to exhibit a comprehensive knowledge of a broad cross section of the computer science discipline and to contribute significant new knowledge to the discipline through the research contribution contained in the doctoral dissertation. A PhD student must complete a minimum of 90 credits of graduate study, of which at least 33 must derive from courses. The PhD program is intended to be completed in about five years from entering the graduate program with a BS degree in Computer Science or a related field, or about four years if the student already has an MS degree in Computer Science or a related field. This is possible because students who begin the PhD program already in possession of a Masters may be able to count as many as six courses toward their course requirement.
To enable the completion of both a bachelor's and a master's degree in five years, Virginia Tech allows students with a 3.5 or above GPA to apply for admission to the Graduate School on the completion of seventy-five hours of undergraduate study.
Options and Certificates
Any CS degree (M.S. or Ph.D.) may include an option in Bioinformatics. Students receiving the option will have that fact noted on their transcript upon successful graduation. To receive the option, students will take a minimum of seven (7) additional credits beyond those necessary for the CSA degree without the option.
Similarly, a Graduate Certificate in Human-Computer Interaction Program is administered by the Center for Human Computer Interaction and can be obtained in conjunction with either the M.S. or Ph.D. degree. Master's degree students complete 9 hours and doctoral students 15 hours of coursework for the certificate, where at least two of the courses taken must be outside the student's degree program requirements and outside the department.