As at most U.S. universities, there are various different levels of requirements students must fulfill on the way to a Master's degree. The requirements established by Montana State University have this structure:

  • The University as a whole sets the minimum requirements for obtaining a Master's degree in any discipline.
  • The College of Engineering, which houses the Gianforte School of Computing, may extend the minimum requirements established by the University for all Master's degrees awarded in the College of Engineering.
  • The Gianforte School of Computing may further extend the requirements for a Master's degree in Computer Science beyond the general requirements set by the College of Engineering and the University.

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

The Graduate School Requirements

The standards and requirements imposed by The Graduate School on application to the MS program and on completion of the MS degree can be found at

Carefully read everything on this site that relates to graduate school and the Master's program.Notice that you can apply to graduate school online on this site. In particular, potential graduate students should pay special attention to the sections of the online graduate catalog that apply to the MS degree.

College of Engineering Requirements

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

Gianforte School of Computing Requirements

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

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Requirements for Application into the Master of Science Program

Applicants to the Computer Science MS program must meet all College of Engineering and The Graduate School requirements. In addition applicants must meet the following requirements of the Gianforte School of Computing.

1. Graduate Record Exam (GRE): All applicants must take the graduate record exam and submit to GRE campus code 4488. The Gianforte School of Computing does NOT further require that the content-specific exam for computer science be taken. The general exam suffices. Typical minimum GRE scores for admission are:

Analytical Writing

These numbers are, however, just one data set used in determining admission to the program. High undergraduate grades and/or strong letters of recommendation can result in a positive evaluation even if GRE scores are somewhat lower than these.

2. TOEFL: 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 complete the TOEFL exam with a score that meets The Graduate School standards, which currently are:


In place of the TOEFL, we also accept a total band score of at least 6.5 on the IELTS or a Pearson's PTE Academic Score of at least 54.

3. Positive Reference Letters: Applicants must be able to submit three letters of reference that address the applicant's chances of success in the MS program from persons who are familiar with the applicant's academic successes and talents.

4. Previous Degree Grade Point Average: Applicants must have earned a 3.0 GPA during the last two years of their most recent degree.

5. 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 MS program.

6. 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 MS program.

Transcripts of other applicants will be reviewed to determine whether the applicants have sufficient background to be admitted directly into the MS 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
  • operating systems

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 MS 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 MS degree (see the section Track for Students with an Undergraduate Degree in a Non-Computer Science Discipline, found in the Master's Degree Menu (click the back button on your browser).

Applicants must be aware that these are minimal requirements and do not by themselves guarantee admission to the MS 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.

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