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Secondary Masters

A Joint Masters Program with Engineering Departments

AMCS Ph.D. students at Penn have the option to apply to the masters program in Computer Science, or certain other masters programs in SEAS. If they are accepted, then they will be candidates for both degrees.

Computer Science Masters Programs

The AMCS Ph.D. requires 20 courses, and the Computer Science masters requires ten courses; but because of double-counting of courses, it is possible to fulfill the course requirements of both degrees with a total of 22 courses. As a result, students in this joint degree program generally take no longer than other AMCS Ph.D. students to finish (generally, five years). Note however AMCS Students will only be allowed to transfer in two courses taken prior to being admitted to the program, so this may impact when they apply.  AMCS Ph.D. students who wish to pursue a Computer Science masters will typically apply to the Computer Science Department at the end of their first year, or in their second year.  

AMCS students will need to apply externally through CollegeNet to the Computer Science Masters program.  As part of this process, they will be required to submit a personal statement and an unofficial transcript. Once students are admitted, they must submit an academic plan that maps out what courses they plan to take and which courses will double count between the two degrees (for a maximum of four).  Students must contact Mike Felker, the CIS/CIT Graduate Coordinator, prior to submitting their application. 

Students who wish to take Computer Science courses during their first two years, other than the summer, should first get permission from the AMCS Graduate Group Chair. This is to insure that these courses do not interfere with taking the basic required AMCS courses.

There are currently two different Computer Science masters degrees offered. One of these, the MSE in Computer and Information Science, is available to students who already have a very strong background in computer science (equivalent to an undergraduate major in that subject). The other degree, the Masters in Computer and Information Technology, is for students with less background in computer science. Details of these programs are available on the Computer Science web page. Each of these two programs has certain required courses, and permits several electives. Under an arrangement between the AMCS and Computer Science Departments, up to four of these electives can be taken in the Math Department (subject to certain restrictions on the choice of those courses). Similarly, up to four of the 20 required courses for the AMCS Ph.D. can be taken in the Computer Science Department. Students pursuing both degrees should coordinate their programs with the two departments, to be sure that they will be able to double-count the desired courses.

Specifically, students in the MSE-CIS program will take the four required Computer Science courses for that degree, plus six electives, of which four can be taken in Mathematics. Of those four, at least one must be selected from a (long) list of Computer-related Math courses. Students in the MCIT program will take the six required courses for that degree (except that AMCS Ph.D. students can ordinarily be exempted from CIT 592) along with electives, for a total of ten courses. The electives may be selected from a list of pre-approved Computer-related Math course; see the Computer Science web page for the list and other info.


Secondary Masters in AMCS for PhD Students in Other Programs

Penn Ph.D. students in allied fields of study can also apply to enter the masters program in applied mathematics and computational science, which can allow them to earn both degrees simultaneously. Like other students in the AMCS masters program, students pursuing a secondary masters must also take at least eight graduate courses from the list of approved courses numbered 500 and above, including at least one each in applied algebra, applied analysis,  probability and statistics,  and numerical methods, or as appropriate given a student's primary field of study. With permission of the Graduate Group Chair, certain courses with a 400-number may be counted toward the course requirement for the Masters degree. The other courses can be in  pure mathematics, applied mathematics, and courses offered by other departments, which make essential usage of advanced mathematics. Every student's program of study must be approved by the graduate group chair. Certain 500-level courses (e.g. MATH 502, 503, 508, 509), will only be approved for PhD students at Penn in  fields other than Mathematics who are pursuing an AMCS Masters degree along the way.

There is also a requirement to pass the Written Preliminary Exam and to submit and defend a Masters thesis, or take two additional courses in lieu of the Masters thesis. To receive the Masters degree a student must have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average in AMCS related courses.  Interested students should consult the main Masters Degree web-page, and contact the AMCS graduate group Chair.