Frequently Asked Questions

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Master’s programs in computer science

APPLYING

 Applications must be submitted online through the Virginia Tech Graduate School's application form. Find the application and learn more about applying here

Master's of Engineering: Feb. 1, 2020 for the fall 2020 semester. Since the master's of engineering degree has not yet been officially approved, applicants will need to apply to the master's of science track, and will be moved to the master's of engineering track near the beginning of the spring 2020 semester.

Master's of Science / Ph.D.: Dec. 15, 2019 for the fall 2020 semester.  Due to the high volume of applications received, it is strongly recommended that you apply well in advance. This is particularly true for international applicants and any applicant who desires financial assistance.

Yes, students with a variety of backgrounds are welcome in these programs.

In fact, the master's of engineering program is designed for students who have varied academic experiences.

For the master's of engineering track, we require a background equivalent to two semesters of introductory programming courses (that is, to have successfully completed a "CS2" course at an accredited institution).

For the master's of science track, we require a background equivalent to two years of undergraduate training in computer science, including at least:

  • an introductory course on programming and beginning data structures (typically referred to as "CS2")
  • a sophomore or junior-level course in data structures (i.e., something that goes beyond the data structures content normally expected from a standard "CS2" course)
  • a course in operating systems

In addition, we expect background in mathematics to include courses in linear algebra, discrete mathematics, statistics, and at least one year of calculus.

 

The primary form of support available to incoming students in the master's of science / Ph.D. program includes graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs) and fellowships. Sometimes, students might be offered graduate research assistantships (GRAs) by individual professors but these decisions are made by specific faculty members. When making decisions on offers of GTAs, we do not take financial need or ability of students to support themselves into account. However, international students who are not given a GTA will not be offered admission unless they have completed a financial certification form indicating sufficient resources available to complete their degree requirements.

Read more information on funding opportunities.

ACADEMICS

Innovation Campus programs are offered beginning in the spring 2020 semester. Generally the schedule for programs varies each year. Fall semester typically begins in the third or fourth week of August. Spring semester typically begins in the third or fourth week of January. You should be on campus and ready to attend orientation by the Monday one week prior to the start of classes.

Master's of science track:

  • Requires a thesis.

  • Students will gain greater experience with a number of soft skills associated with completing a thesis, including significant writing experience, experience with self-directed research work, and communications and group project skills. It is a natural stepping stone to the Ph.D.

Master's of engineering track:

  • Coursework only; a thesis is not required.

  • The track is best suited for students who seek to enter the computing profession. The program supplies strong technical training.

The master's of science thesis option requires 30 credits of coursework, of which typically 21 credits must derive from graded courses. Students taking a terminal master's of science degree are expected to complete the thesis, which is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings.

Depending upon the course, an online option may be available. Sections of the course that are online can be taught as synchronous (at a fixed time with the ability to interact live with the class and instructor) and asynchronous (pre-recorded lectures and tutorials that can be viewed at the student's convenience). Consult the timetable of classes for information about specific course offerings.

Students pursuing the master's of science should expect to spend two years completing the degree.  Students pursuing the master's of engineering often can complete the degree in less than two years.

 

Yes, the program director for master's of engineering is the academic advisor. Master's of science  / Ph.D. students have a research advisor who also serves as academic advisor. For more information, visit the Department of Computer Science graduate programs.


MASTER'S PROGRAMS IN COMPUTER ENGINEERING 

APPLYING

Applications must be submitted online through the Virginia Tech Graduate School's application form. Find the application and learn more about applying here.

For domestic students (students currently studying in the U.S.) who want to be considered for departmental funding, the deadlines for all application materials are the following:

  • For fall semester, all application materials must be submitted by Jan. 15.

  • For spring semester, all application materials must be submitted by Sept. 1.

For domestic students (students currently studying in the U.S.) who do not want to be considered for departmental funding, the deadlines for all application materials are the following:

  • For fall semester, all application materials must be submitted by July 1.

  • For spring semester, all application materials must be submitted by Dec. 1.

For international students, the deadlines for all application materials are the following:

  • For fall semester, all application materials must be submitted by Feb. 20.

  • For spring semester, all application materials must be submitted by Sept. 1.

Yes, the program welcomes students with a variety of academic backgrounds.

Students holding or expecting a bachelor’s degree in a curriculum other than electrical or computer engineering (for the corresponding graduate degree) are handled on an individual basis. GPA requirements for admission status are generally higher than for electrical and computer engineering graduates.

Students from programs such as physics, mathematics, computer science, engineering (other than electrical or computer), and other programs usually lack background in areas of work required of electrical and computer engineering students.

Each student's remedial course requirements must be assessed on an individual basis. The exact nature of courses which a student may need should be decided by the student and his or her interim advisor. Students crossing from computer engineering to electrical engineering or vice versa may also require additional undergraduate (or master's of science level) course work. 

See more information here.

The electrical and computer engineering department offers several prestigious and competitive fellowships for graduate study. Most graduate students, however, are supported on assistantships. Graduate teaching assistantships are awarded by the department and typically involve serving as graders or instructors. Graduate research assistantships are funded and awarded by the department's research groups.

Read more about funding opportunities.

ACADEMICS

The master's of science program is research-based and requires a thesis. This option is encouraged for all students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. degree. The thesis represents the results of independent research performed under close supervision of a faculty advisor.

The master's of engineering program is project-based, with less focus on research. It does not require a thesis. It offers professionally-oriented degrees, with a strong academic foundation in core electrical and computer engineering technological areas. Students graduating with a computer engineering or electrical engineering master's degree are well-positioned for advancing their career in domestic or international industry or in government.

Programs are offered in the fall and spring semesters. The schedule for programs varies each year. Fall semester typically begins in the third or fourth week of August. Spring semester typically begins in the third or fourth week of  January. You should be on campus and ready to attend orientation by the Monday one week prior to the start of classes.

Students pursuing a master's of science should expect to spend two years in the program. Students pursuing a master's of engineering can complete the degree in less than two years.

 

Yes, there are advisors for graduate students enrolled in these programs. See a list of advisors in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The advising team will serve as your graduate program advisors and will be able to help you navigate the graduate school system, policies, procedures, deadlines, and paperwork and answer other questions you may have. 

For more information, visit the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

STUDENT LIFE

Virginia Tech does not offer on-campus housing in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area. However, thousands of apartment units are advertised daily in the Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. area. It is recommended that you check the classified ad listings in the local newspapers, i.e. Washington Post, the Washington Examiner, and the Baltimore Sun. Also, look at online resources such as Apartment Guide, For Rent, Abodo Apartments, and Apartment Search, or check the free real estate apartment guides that appear in local area businesses.

Reagan National Airport is in Arlington, Virginia.

Dulles International Airport is in Dulles, Virginia.