Accelerated BS/Master's Program
Would you like to earn a master's degree in Computer Science in only one year beyond your BS degree?
To enable the completion of both a bachelor's and a master's degree in five years, Virginia Tech allows students with at least a 3.30 GPA for the Masters of Engineering (MEng) and a 3.50 GPA for Masters of Science (MS) to apply for admission to the Graduate School on the completion of seventy-five hours of undergraduate study.
You can see below information that compares the two tracks.
You can see a short video about the application process here. It talks about the MEng program, but the instructions are the same for the MS and PhD accelerated programs as well.
If you plan to earn a Master of Engineering degree (requires 10 courses, no thesis), you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Must have a 3.30 GPA overall
- Must have completed CS 2114 with C or better
- Your application must include 3 letters of recommendation, with at least one from an academic source (a faculty member in any department)
If you plan to earn a Master of Science degree (requires 7 courses plus completing a thesis), you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Must have a 3.50 GPA overall
- Must be a current CS, DCC, or SC major, or a CS minor
- Must have completed CS 3114 with B- or better at time of application
- Your application must include 3 letters of recommendation, with at least one letter from a VT CS faculty member
Non-CS/DCC/SC-majors are responsible for obtaining support from their academic advisor in their home department regarding any course substitutions needed for double-counting MS graduate courses in place of corresponding undergraduate major requirements (we already handle substitutions for degree requirements for the CS major or the CS minor)
How it Works
Computer science students in this program may take up to four graduate courses during their senior year in place of required CS 4000-level courses.
These courses will "double-count" toward a master's degree in computer science as well. (A CS MS degree requires seven courses and a thesis, while the CS MEng requires ten courses.) These courses must be taken for a grade, and 5974, 5994, and 5944 do not count.
No more than a total of 12 credits may be double-counted. A grade of B or higher must be earned in each course that is double-counted in order for it to receive graduate credit.
Award of the bachelor's degree occurs on completion of the requirements as spelled out in the appropriate major checksheet, including the (up to) 12 credits of graduate work and the other departmental and university curriculum requirements.
The remaining graduate courses for the master's degree should be taken after conferral of the bacehlor's degree. Double-counted courses must be taken during the final 12 months of the undergraduate degree. BS/Master's students typically complete their BS degree within two semesters after being accepted into this program.
When to Apply
The accelerated undergraduate/graduate program application is based on your intended graduation date.
The deadline for applications is May 15 each spring semester and December 15 each fall semester.
Students should apply in the semester one year before they will complete the BS. For example, a student intending to graduate from the BS program in May 2022 should apply in the semester ending in May 2021. If accepted into the program, this will allow participation in double-counted courses for the final two semesters of your undergraduate degree.
If you are unable to apply one year before completing your BS, you can still apply during your final year, in your second-to-final semester. If you apply at that time and are accepted, you will only be able to double-count courses taken in your final undergraduate semester, but are still permitted the same maximum of 12 credits of double-counted courses.
How to Apply
Computer science majors interested in applying for the BS/Master's program should follow the application process below.
- The deadline for BS/Master's applications is the last day of classes each fall and spring semester, not the deadline posted on the Graduate School website for regular graduate program applicants.
- When starting a graduate application, choose the date corresponding to the first semester after you will complete your BS degree. For example, if you expect to graduate in May 2022, then choose Fall 2022 as the date of entry for your graduate school application (i.e., the first semester of the "+1" year).
- Test scores for the GRE exam or TOEFL exam are not required when applying to the BS/Master's program.
- You do not need to request or pay for an official transcript from VT when applying to the BS/Master's program--a PDF of your unofficial web transcript can be uploaded instead.
- Three letters of recommendation are required, with at least one from an academic reference. For MS applicants, at least one letter must be from a VT CS faculty member.
- In your application, be sure to answer "Yes" to the question: "Are you applying as an accelerated undergraduate/graduate or dual student applicant?"
- Once you have submitted your Master's application, notify the CS department that you have applied to the BS/Master's program by emailing Dr. Edwards.
- BS/Master's applications are reviewed shortly after grades are issued for the semester in which you apply. You will be notified by email of the result.
Students who are admitted to the accelerated undergraduate/graduate program will then need to fill out an the Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Degree and Course Designation form. This is an advising form where you will indicate the four graduate courses that you plan to take which will count for both your BS and Master's degrees.
FAQs/Accelerated BS/Master's Program
What forms do I have to fill to enroll in the BS/Master's program?
Admission to the program is neither automatic nor guaranteed. Although as an undergraduate student you are somewhat of an "insider" in our department, admission to the BS/Master's program is highly competitive, just as regular college admission is. Only the standard Graduate School application is necessary to apply, as described above.
What factors do you look for in admitting applicants?
Unlike a bachelor’s degree, completing a MS degree requires a good amount of independent, unstructured, research. Hence we evaluate applicants by their potential to succeed in research. We expect our BS/MS students to engage in research projects with faculty members, leading to a Master's thesis. The GPA is an (imperfect) indicator of this trait, so if you have more direct evidence such as publications, participation in a VTURCS project, or undergraduate research or independent study projects, those are good features to highlight in your application. For the MEng degree, we are less concerned with research potential, and more concerned with your technical ability as an indication of whether you are able to complete the degree.
My GPA is slightly below 3.50 (for MS) or 3.30 (for MEng). Can I still apply?
The minimum GPA requirement is a requirement for all BS/Master's programs at Virginia Tech, not just Computer Science. It is set centrally by the Virginia Tech Graduate School. In the past, exceptions to the GPA requirement have been granted extremely rarely. These have typically gone to students who have otherwise demonstrated superior potential for research (e.g., prior research publications and/or faculty member's recommendation).
My GPA is greater than 3.50/3.30. Will I get admitted?
Typically yes, but not necessarily. It really depends on the entire application package such as the letters of recommendation and any prior research record.
Okay, I would like to do research but do not know what I would like to do research in. Can I decide that later, after I am admitted?
You can. But recall that the online application would require you to write a statement of what you would like to do in your graduate studies. Vague statements such as "I am interested in software engineering, bioinformatics, networking" (i.e., listing multiple areas of specialty in our department) are not taken as seriously as some specific theme you want to pursue. Graduate school is all about having a focused goal and preparing a plan of study to attain that goal. So the more concrete your plans sound, the more weight your application will be given.
Can I send you my application before I submit and can you help me make it more competitive?
We are unable to do pre-reviews of applications. Further, it would be a conflict of interest to tell you exactly what you need to do in order to get accepted. You should treat this like a regular college/graduate school competitive admission process. The only sure-fire way to know if you will be accepted is to apply.
How do I find out what areas of research are being conducted in the department? How do I find out which faculty members have interests similar to mine?
Browsing through the departmental webpages is a good start. Talking to faculty would be a natural next step. See in particular the CS Department page listing our major research areas. You can see a list showing which faculty are actively recruiting students and which are not here.
How many students do you accept in the BS/Master's program each year?
We do not have a fixed number of seats that we seek to fill. The program has grown a great deal in recent years. We are now admitting nearly 100 students per year through this program.
I have already finished my BS here. Can I get admitted to the BS/Master's program?
No. The BS/Master's program is specifically meant for students who have not yet completed their BS. If you are no longre in an undergraduate program, you must apply for regular graduate school admission and satisfy all the regular requirements of graduate student applications.
So when is the "right" time to apply for the BS/Master's program?
The primary virtue of the BS/Master's program is that it allows you to "double count" up to 12 credits between the BS and Master's programs, taken during the last 12 months of your undergraduate program. The Concurrent UG/G form is where you specify which 4 courses (3 credits each) you would like to double count. You must apply before registering for any of these 12 credits . Courses cannot be double counted in retrospect, so you must be admitted to the BS/Master's program and submit your Concurrent UG/G form before you take any of these courses.
What courses can I double count?
Since double counting is toward an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree, you should ask this question separately to two people: your undergraduate program advisor and your graduate program advisor. The generic answer for the graduate program is: Any 4000-, 5000-, or 6000- level course available for CS graduate degree credit can be counted toward your Master's degree, with the restriction that at most two 4000 level courses can be used toward that degree and the course cannot be a 4974, 4984, or 4994.
- See here for a list of CS graduate courses and whether they count toward the CS Master's degree.
- See here for a list of CS4xxx courses that can be used for graduate degree credit. For BS requirements, consult your undergraduate program advisor.
Should I take CS5944 Graduate Seminar?
Mater's and Ph.D. students must take two instances of CS5944 Graduate Seminar. (MEng students do not get credit for Graduate Seminar.) Note that this course cannot be double counted, or be substituted with or for Senior Seminar. You may take CS5944 while you are still an undergrad and claim it toward the graduate degree on your Plan of Study. Or you might choose to wait until you are officially a graduate student.
Note that traditionally the graduate seminar is given on Fridays at 2:30-3:45 during Fall semester. During Spring semester, the time of given seminars is highly variable, as it is dictated by the schedule of faculty candidate interview talks. So you might find it more scheduling friendly in Fall than in Spring.
I am happy to have been accepted to the BS/Master's program. What courses do I need to take now?
Welcome! Be sure to attend the orientation that usually happens the week before first week of classes. Here's a brief summary of what will be discussed there: the MS degree requires a thesis, while the MEng is entirely coursework-based. The MS requires 21 credits of coursework (7 courses) plus 9 credits of research culminating in a thesis. The MEng requires 10 courses. The set of courses used for the Master's degree must satisfy several requirements and constraints which are discussed in the detailed degree requirements. Since 12 credits (4 courses) overlap with the BS program, a BS/MS student pursuing the thesis option need only do 3 more courses during the final (5th) year of their study. BS/MEng students should need to complete only six more courses, which can easily be done in two academic terms.
I plan to do the MS degree (with Thesis). What else should I know about this?
The important thing to know is that a thesis typically takes about 12 calendar months to complete. This almost always means that accelerated BS/MS students need to make good progress on their thesis project during the final semester before they graduate with their BS degree. The alternative would be to work extensively on the thesis project during one summer. You should also turn in your plan of study before classes begin in your first graduate semester, since there might be no time to correct a problem in the plan if you turn it in later than that. If you have any questions about the thesis process, what your timeline should be, and whether you are on track, you should schedule a meeting with the Graduate Program Director to talk about it.