MS Thesis Track

The MS Thesis track is for students who want to concentrate on research in some sub-field of Computer Science.  You are required to arrange for a Computer Science faculty member who agrees to advise the thesis and the rest of your course selection prior to selecting the track.

1. Summary of Requirements

Students must complete at least a total of 30 graduate points and must maintain at least 2.7 overall GPA in order to be eligible for the MS degree in Computer Science.

  1. Thesis track requires:

    - Breadth courses
    - Thesis course (9pts)
    - Track Electives

  2. 9 required points of COMS E6902.

  3. 9 additional elective points of graduate courses selected from Computer Science and/or related areas together with your faculty thesis advisor.

  4. Students using previous courses to fulfill required track courses may complete the 30 graduate points by selecting additional graduate courses; at most 3 points overall may be from "non-CS/non-technical" graduate courses.

Please use the Degree Progress Check to keep track of your requirements.

2. Breadth Requirement

Students are required to satisfy the Breadth Requirement by taking 1 course from Group 1, 1 course from Group 2, 1 course from Group 3, and 1 more course from any of the three groups. Track courses taken at Columbia can also satisfy the breadth requirement.

Group  Courses
Group 1 (Systems)

All CS 41xx courses except CS 416x and CS 417x
All CS 48xx courses, and CS 4340, 4444, and 4460

Group 2 (Theory)

All CS 42xx courses including CSOR W4231

Group 3 (AI and Apps)

All CS 47xx courses, and CS 416x and CS 417x


3. Required Track Courses

9 points of COMS E6902 Thesis. The points are typically spread over multiple semesters, e.g., 3 points each for 3 semesters or 4.5 points each for 2 semesters. No more than 9 points of E6902 may be taken. Sign up for the section number of E6902 associated with your thesis advisor.

4. Elective Track Courses

Students are required to complete 9 additional elective points of graduate courses (4000 level or above) selected from Computer Science and/or related areas together with your faculty thesis advisor. These would normally be strongly related to your thesis topic.

Up to 3 of these points may be in COMS E6901 Projects in Computer Science. 

The elective track courses cannot be imported from another institution. 

5. General Electives

At most 3 points overall may be from non-CS/non-technical graduate courses. All general electives must be approved by your thesis advisor.

6. Thesis Defense

A thesis proposal is presented to your thesis committee at least three months before your defense. Your thesis committee should have three members. Two of them must be internal, but one can be an outsider. A publication-quality thesis document is published as a CS department technical report. Please bring the thesis defense form to your defense.

The thesis cannot be imported from another institution.

7. Contact

Please direct all questions concerning the MS Thesis Track to Prof. Mihalis Yannakakis.

8. Graduation

Candidates preparing for graduation should submit a completed application for degree to the Registrar's Office and submit a track graduation form to CS Student Services.