Application Procedure

Applicants to the Master's program in Computer Science must become familiar with the requirements of the MSU Graduate School, of the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering, and of the Gianforte School of Computing - all outlined below. If you are ready, you may complete an application through the Graduate School website. 

Admission Requirements

As at most U.S. universities, there are various requirements students must fulfill to gain admission to a Master's degree. The requirements established by Montana State University include:

  • The Graduate School minimum requirements for Master's students in any discipline
  • The Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering requirements for Master's of Science degrees
  • The Gianforte School of Computing extends these beyond the general requirements set by the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering and the Graduate School

This page will help you determine all of the requirements you must meet on the way to admission to the Master's degree program.

Graduate School Requirements

The Graduate School policy sets out minimum admission requirements and application deadlines. The Graduate School also governs the tuition and fees for graduate education. Please read over carefully the Graduate School's policies as they pertain to the Master's program as even otherwise-qualified students, who do not follow Graduate School policy, will not gain admission.

Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering Requirements

At this time, the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering imposes no additional standards and requirements beyond those specified by the Graduate School. Students are encouraged to read the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering Graduate Student Handbook.

Gianforte School of Computing Requirements

The Gianforte School of Computing does impose additional standards and requirements for application to the Master's program and on the attainment of the Master's degree.

1. Evidence of English Language Proficiency

Foreign students from countries where the primary language is not English, and who do not have a previous degree from an English-speaking university, must demonstrate proficiency of the English language. The Gianforte School of Computing defers to the Graduate School standards, which currently require either:

Test Score
Duolingo 120
Internet-based TOEFL Test (iBT) 80
Paper-based TOEFL Test (PBT) 550
PTE Academic 54

2. Positive Reference Letters

Applicants must engage reference letters from three writers that address the applicant's chances of success in the Master's program from persons who are familiar with the applicant's academic successes and talents. The letter requests are automatically emailed as part of the online application process.

3. Previous Degree Grade Point Average

Applicants must have earned a 3.0 GPA, or equivalent in schools that do not based GPA on a 4.0 scale, during the last two years of their most recent degree.

4. Previous Bachelor's Degree

A previous Bachelor's degree (or higher) is required. Students whose prior degree is not in computer science, will be required to complete foundational computer science courses before gaining full admission to the Master's program.

5. Previous Coursework

Applicants with previous Bachelor's degrees in computer science from known, reputable institutions (and who meet the other admission requirements) will be admitted directly into the Master's program, i.e., without foundational course requirements.

Transcripts of other applicants will be reviewed to determine whether the applicants have sufficient background to be admitted directly into the Master's program. Background course requirements include the usual programming, data structures, and discrete mathematics courses expected of computer science students, as well as:

  • software engineering
  • computer architecture
  • theory of computation

and a substantial number of other upper division courses, including such subjects as

  • networks
  • compilers
  • graphics
  • artificial intelligence
  • database systems
  • distributed computing

and others.

Applicants who cannot show proof of sufficient previous coursework or expertise in these areas may, at the discretion of the Gianforte School of Computing, be admitted into the Master's program with appropriate courses from the MSU undergraduate Computer Science curriculum listed as foundational requirements. Identified foundational courses must be taken in addition to the courses required for the Master's degree.

6. Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

Neither the general Graduate Record Exam (GRE), nor a GRE subject test is required for admissions into the Master's program. We will however accept and consider GRE scores if submitted. The MSU GRE campus code is 4488

Applicants must be aware that these are minimal requirements and do not by themselves guarantee admission to the Master's program. Applications are evaluated and accepted based on enrollments in the Gianforte School of Computing and other factors, such as whether an applicant needs financial support and whether financial support is available.