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Fifth-Year Master's

The Fifth Year Master’s Program is administered by the Computer Science Department, but students can elect to complete research projects in areas throughout the School of Computer Science.

Students are admitted based on strong evidence of research potential through close interaction with one or more faculty members — whether in projects, summer jobs or advanced classes. In addition to faculty support, we will also consider input from external people familiar with your background and research experience (e.g., a supervisor for a summer internship).

The deadlines are listed below. Students from the Pittsburgh campus must identify their research advisor in their application, but students from the Qatar can apply without advisor and identify an advisor after they have been admitted.

Who Can Apply?

Students from both the Pittsburgh and Qatar campus can apply. Students with a B.S. in AI from the Machine Learning Department can also apply if they meet certain breadth requirements that are documented on the MS Programs Requirements page.

How long does the program take to complete?

The program lasts 12 months, including one standard academic year and one summer. You typically start working on a research project during the summer after your senior year, and continue that project while taking classes during the academic year.

When to Apply

Students should submit a formal application in the middle of the fall semester or in the beginning of the spring semester of their senior year. You can start the program in a fall or spring semester, however you can only start the Fifth Year Master's program after you have received your B.S. in CS or B.S. in AI at CMU.

How to Apply

Please refer to specific information on the Master's Programs admissions page.

Program Requirements & Curriculum

To earn their master’s degree, students in the Fifth Year Master’s Program will take a minimum of 48 units of graduate courses in the School of Computer Science. To satisfy the breadth requirement, students should take at least two courses in different areas in computer science from this breadth course list (CMU authentication required).

The remaining units (a minimum of 24) should consist of electives used to gain depth in the student's research area. The elective units can be satisfied using any course at the 700 level and above in SCS and, with prior approval, outside SCS. Students must receive a grade of A or B in each course; they receive no credit for grades of C or below.

Students must also complete a significant research project resulting in a thesis (96 units). The thesis research should result in a document and an oral presentation summarizing the results of their project.

Additional Breadth Requirements for Students with a B.S. in AI from CMU

The B.S. degree in AI shares many of the technical course requirements with the B.S. in CS.  Given this overlap, students with a B.S. in AI can also apply to the CSD 5th year MS program. Details on the B.S. in CS requirements can be found on our undergraduate curriculum page: The B.S. in CS and AI differ in their breadth requirements. In order to apply to the 5th Year MS, students in the B.S. in AI program must take the following two breadth area courses:

  • 15-451 (Algorithm Design and Implementation)

  • One course satisfying either the Logic and Languages or the Software System Design Elective requirement.  The BS AI includes SCS electives, which can, for example, be used to satisfy this requirement.

  • These courses must be taken before they enter the 5th Year MS program.

  • BS AI students automatically meet the AI Elective and, because of the AI Cluster Electives requirement, the Domains Elective requirements.

  • As noted on the admissions information, BS AI students should include a short paragraph in their two-page statement documenting how they meet, or plan to meet, the BS CS breadth requirement listed above.

You can see a detailed description of the program's requirements and curriculum in our Fifth Year Master's Handbook.