Founded in 1966

Dual MS Degree

About the Degree

The basic purpose of this program is to provide the well-qualified student with a challenging and enriching educational experience in the combination of mathematics and computer science. Students with solid training in these two areas are prepared to participate at all stages in the solutions of many significant problems. The successful student will have acquired sufficient theoretical background to fully understand the problem, as well as sufficient technical skills to analyze, apply, and revise the methods designed for solving the problem or its components.

A goal of this program is to reduce the amount of time required for a qualified student to earn both an MA degree in mathematics and an MS degree in computer science. This reduction is possible because certain courses in each department can satisfy the requirements of both degrees.


One way to enter the dual degree program is to enter the Masters program in one of the two departments involved, then immediately apply for the Masters program in the other department.

Existing graduate students in either mathematics or computer science can also apply to the other program at a later time to qualify for a dual degree. In either case, the student must satisfy the admission requirements for the master's degree program of each department separately. Administrative procedures for the application process are detailed in the appendix.

Once admitted to the dual program, the student will be assigned an advisor in each department.

Requirements for the Dual Degree

The course requirements for the dual degree are as follows:

  • Three 2000-level (or higher) courses in the common area of mathematics and computer science (this set is to be identified)–9 credits;
  • Five graduate courses (2000-level or higher) in mathematics that are not in the common set–15 credits; and.
  • Five graduate courses (2000-level or higher) in computer science that are not in the common set–15 credits. (CS 2001, CS 2002, and CS 29xx classes do not count toward this requirement.)

Coursework for the dual degree program must include the course requirements for an MA degree in math and an MS degree in computer science, as specified by the respective departments.

Students must obtain approval from both advisors to substitute other University courses as electives.

In addition to the 39 credits of coursework indicated above, the dual degree requires six more credits through either of the following two options:

  • MS Thesis Option: A written thesis followed by a final oral examination on the work. The thesis topic should be in the intersection of the two disciplines and be approved by the student's thesis committee, which includes at least three members with representation from both departments.
  • Non-Thesis Option: The student must take one additional graduate-level course in either department. After all coursework is completed, an oral examination of the student's knowledge is conducted by a four-person faculty committee, with two members representing each of the departments. The exam will consist of two parts, one in mathematics and one in computer science. Each part should normally cover less than a typical MS-level comprehensive exam appropriate to the discipline.

Illustrative Programs

Listed below are two sample programs which a prospective student might select under the thesis option. If the non-thesis option is chosen, one additional graduate course (either in math or computer science) must be added to the sample listing.

Numeric Computing

From Common Set:

  • MA 2060 Combinatorics
  • MA 2070 Numerical Methods I
  • CS 2150 Design and Analysis of Algorithms

In Mathematics:

  • MA 2071 Numerical Methods II
  • MA 2370 Matrices and Linear Operators
  • MA 2920 Ordinary Differential Equations I
  • MA 2921 Ordinary Differential Equations II
  • MA 3070 Numerical Solution of Nonlinear Systems

In Computer Science:

  • CS 2110 Theory of Computation
  • CS 2210 Compiler Design
  • CS 2510 Computer Operating Systems
  • CS 2550 Principles of Database Systems
  • CS 3350 Modeling and Simulation

Theoretical Computing

From Common Set:

  • MA 2170 Logic and Foundations
  • CS 2110 Theory of Computation
  • CS 3120 Theory of Learning Algorithms

In Mathematics:

  • MA 2030 Numerical Linear Algebra
  • MA 2050 Graph Theory
  • MA 2060 Combinatorics
  • MA 2500 Algebra I
  • MA 2501 Algebra II

In Computer Science:

  • CS 2150 Design and Analysis of Algorithms
  • CS 2450 Parallel Computing
  • CS 2510 Computer Operating Systems
  • CS 2520 Computer Networks
  • CS 2710 Foundations of Artificial Intelligence

Administrative Admission Procedures

The applicant should choose one department as their primary department and the other as secondary *. Application should be submitted to the primary department. The applicant pays the application fee only once.

Then follows the existing procedure of admission screening and recommendation in the primary department. The process includes a yes-no decision, and, if yes, also the type of graduate status granted and the faculty advisor assigned. After this process is completed by the primary department, the complete dossier is transmitted to the secondary department for the same process. This can happen either immediately or at a later point in time (see 3 below).

At the conclusion of the processing in the secondary department, the completed dossier is transmitted back to the primary department and the following action takes place.

    Primary Department
    Secondary Department
    Admit Admit Action 1
    Admit Reject Action 2
    Reject Admit Action 2
    Reject Reject Action 3

Action 1:

The primary department prepares a recommendation-for-admission letter containing information on graduate status+, conditions that must be satisfied if the student has provisional status in one department, names of advisors, and effective term of admission to the dual degree program.

Action 2:

The primary department notifies the applicant that, although acceptable to one department, they have not been accepted into the dual degree program. The student may then decide whether they wish to change their application to the single degree program.

Action 3:

Regret letter.

An applicant who is already enrolled in one department should follow the same procedure. (The applicant's current department is automatically the primary.) The application fee is waived, and Action 2 above is not applicable. If the student is not accepted to the dual degree program, their standing and status in their current department remains unchanged.

* The applicant indicates primary status in a supplementary form or in the goal letter. Such designation serves administrative purposes only. Decisions relating to admission, registration, and graduation will be made jointly by the two departments. A graduate student carries the same privileges and obligations in their secondary department as that of single-degree program students.

+ If one department recommends full status, the other provisional status, the student's status in the dual degree program will be provisional.

Counseling and Registration

Two co-advisors are assigned at time of admission.

Student should file an academic plan in consultation with both advisors.

Student registers through the primary department.

Academic Status and Records

Academic Standing Policies and Actions

Probation: Normal policies existing in each department apply except that the secon-dary department decides on the basis of its own coursework, while the primary department decides on the basis of all of the student's past and remaining coursework.

If one department decides that probation is warranted, the student is considered to be on probation in the dual degree program. A student placed on probation by only one department can, if they fail to remove that probationary status, request a change from the dual degree program to the regular degree program of the other department.

Notifications on probation, change of graduate status (such as provisional to full status), statute of limitations, and other appropriate actions are initiated by the primary department. Copies of such action should also be sent to the secondary department.

The Office of the University Registrar will send copies of transcripts to both departments.

Copies of the CER are retained by the primary department.


The two degrees are granted during the same term. Both departments must ascertain that all requirements of the dual degree program are satisfied.

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