The School of Computing’s BS/MS program makes it possible for students to get both a bachelors and a masters degree in five years.
This page is aimed towards students not yet in the BS/MS program. If you have already been admitted to the BS/MS program you may find this page to be more useful.
Why do a BS/MS at Utah’s School of Computing?
The School of Computing at Utah is ranked in the top 40 computer science departments by US News and World Report. Our systems group is ranked in the top 20, and our graphics group is ranked in the top 5 nationwide. Our program excels at involving undergraduate students in research, and recent BS and MS graduates have gone on to PhD programs at elite schools such as Cornell, MIT, and Stanford. School of Computing students will be able to use the resources of the new Warnock Engineering Building.
Salt Lake City is a great place to live and the University of Utah has affordable tuition and relatively inexpensive housing on-campus. In addition, all Utah students get a free bus/light rail pass and so can easily live off campus without having to own a car. There are hiking trails that start from campus and seven ski resorts within a 30-45 minute drive of the University.
BS/MS Program Details
The requirements for the BS/MS degree are just the BS requirements plus the MS requirements. Starting to take graduate-level courses during the senior year is what makes it possible for students to complete the masters degree in just one additional year.
The MS degree can be in any of our programs:
- Masters of Computer Science
- Masters of Computing with a Computer Engineering specialization
- Masters of Computing with a Data Management specialization
- Masters of Computing with a Graphics and Visualization specialization
- Masters of Computing with a Image Analysis specialization
- Masters of Computing with a Networked System specialization
- Masters of Computing with a Robotics specialization
- Masters of Computing with a Scientific Computing specialization
Each of the degrees has three options: course-only, project, and thesis. See the webpages of each program linked above to get details on the specific requirements. If you plan to do the MS thesis option, it is recommended (but not required) that you do a BS thesis, which you then expand to an MS thesis as a graduate student.
Admission to the BS/MS program
Requirements for the BS/MS program:
- Junior status in Computer Science at the University of Utah
- Minimum 3.0 GPA (successful candidates typically have a higher average in CS courses)
- Residential or domestic status — unfortunately international students on visas are not eligible for BS/MS programs
BS/MS applications are due on April 1, 2017 for Fall 2017. Your application should be submitted online and must include:
- A copy of your University of Utah transcript including grades from Fall 2016 (an unofficial transcript is fine)
- The BS/MS application
Students accepted into the graduate program should attend the SoC new grad orientation along with the rest of the new graduate students in late August. You will be sent information about this.
We make admission decisions for the BS/MS program as follows. A small committee of SoC professors looks at the record of each student applying to the program, paying particular attention to performance in upper-level undergraduate CS courses. We admit students who we believe will do well in graduate-level CS courses.
Transfer students (students who already have a degree, or part of a degree, from another university) are not admitted directly into the BS/MS program. You should first gain admission to the U (see the admissions web site) and to the Computer Science program as an undergraduate. Subsequently, admission to the BS/MS program happens according to the instructions on this page.
Advising for BS/MS Students
BS/MS students should find a graduate advisor as soon as possible after admission to the program. Here is how to do it:
Course-based MS: For the course-based Computing MS, the advisor is the track director found here. For students pursuing a course-based Computer Science MS, the advisor is Kobus Van der Merwe.
Thesis-based MS: We recommend that your Masters thesis be an extended version of a BS thesis. This is because it is generally difficult to complete a Masters thesis from scratch in one year. In this case, your thesis advisor should be the same person who supervised your BS thesis.
Example BS/MS Program of Study
Below is an example program of study that we consider to be ideal for a course-based BS/MS degree. Following this schedule, you graduate in 5 years and pay 4 years of undergraduate tuition and 1 year of graduate tuition.
End of junior year:
- Apply to BS/MS program
End of senior year:
- Have completed all requirements for BS degree
- Have completed 12 hours of courses that will count towards the MS
- Change to graduate student status
- Take 9 hours of MS classes in Fall
- Take 9 hours of MS classes in Spring
- Graduate with combined BS/MS degree in Spring
Alternate plan 1: Take 3 hours of courses that count towards the MS during each of Fall and Spring of your senior year, then take 12 hours of MS courses Fall and Spring of year 5.
Alternate plan 2 (5.5 years): Take no courses that count towards the MS during years 1-4. Do not change to graduate student status at the end of senior year. During Fall of year 5, take 12 hours of MS courses while retaining undergraduate status. Get grad student status at the end of Fall of year 5. Take 9 hours of MS courses in Spring of year 5 and then 9 hours of MS courses in Fall of year 6.
Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective BS/MS Students
Q: Why would I want to be in the BS/MS program?
A: First, it is a cheap (in terms of your time and your money) way to get a Masters Degree from a well-regarded Computer Science department. Second, it offers you an opportunity to specialize in a particular area. We view this sort of specialization as important in a world where completely generic CS graduates, with no specific areas of expertise, are increasingly vulnerable to outsourcing.
Q: Will I be admitted to the BS/MS program if I apply?
A: It is likely that you will be admitted if you are getting As and Bs in CS courses and if you have taken (and done well in) at least one or two CS courses at the 4000 level or higher. Note that it is highly unlikely that we will admit a student with a cumulative GPA less than 3.5 into the graduate program.
Q: I want to specialize in a specific area (e.g. systems, computer engineering, or formal methods) and there is no specific Computing degree track in that area. What should I do?
A: You should be in the Computer Science MS program and then you should take courses in your area of specialization. The CS MS degree offers considerable flexibility and is designed to let students specialize. In fact, masters students should specialize in an area — that’s sort of the point.
Q: How much is tuition?
A: You pay undergraduate tuition until the University views you as a graduate student at which point you pay tuition at the graduate rate.
Q: Under what circumstances should I not apply to the BS/MS program?
- If you must, for whatever reason, receive the BS degree on time at the end of your senior year.
- If you are an international student.
- If the BS/MS program is going to interfere unacceptably with your financial aid. Once you have graduate student status (see this page) you are no longer eligible for undergraduate financial aid
Q: How do I go about paying in-state tuition rather than non-resident tuition?
A: An application for Utah residency (and lots of other relevant information) can be found at the U of Utah admissions site.
Q: Must BS/MS students graduate in five years?
A: No, although we prefer that you do.
Q: Do I get a BS degree after four years?
A: Normally, no. Both degrees are awarded when you complete the BS/MS program. Of course if you have met the BS degree requirements and need to bail out of the program for any reason, you receive the BS degree at that time.
Q: Can I count a class toward both the BS and MS?
A: No. The only double-dipping is that in the thesis option the BS thesis can be expanded into an MS thesis.
Q: Do BS/MS students get assistantships?
A: Typically no, but some students are hired as research assistants by their advisors.
Further questions should be directed to the BS/MS program director, Cem Yuksel. Please include the string “BS/MS” in the subject of your email.