Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the BS/MS program.
Can I apply after graduating with my bachelor's degree from CSE?
No. This was allowed for a period of time, but it is no longer the case. All admitted BS/MS students must begin the master's degree within one year of graduation. For example, if you graduate in June, you must apply and be admitted as a graduate student before the following June. Students who plan to take a job after graduating may consider our Professional Master's Program.
I have only one required 300-level CSE course left to complete, and I'm thinking about taking a different course instead. Can I still apply, and will that hurt my application?While we would really like to see all of your required 300-level courses, we understand that sometimes exceptions make sense. If you are reaching the appropriate time to apply to the program (1 year before your graduation) and you may not have your 300-level courses completed for any reason, we'd encourage you to check in with us to talk about why, and how that could impact your application.
Can undergrads not majoring in CSE apply?
No. The master's curriculum is designed to overlap with the undergraduate CSE curriculum, so only current CS or CE majors may apply. Undergrads in other departments may be interested in our courses for non-majors.
I'm having technical issues with the application!
Email the undergrad advisors with any technical issues. If you need to include comments or additional info in your application, please include those at the end of your personal statement.
Is there an application fee?
There is no fee for students completing the initial CSE BS/MS application.
Students admitted to the BS/MS program must complete the UW Grad School application and pay a an application fee as well as an enrollment fee once you become a grad student (due before tuition).
Should we list non-CSE-related jobs in our work history?
You may list jobs and experiences that seems unrelated. However, CSE-related experiences will typically have a more significant impact on your application and be the most helpful for the Admissions committee to review.
Can I submit letters of recommendation?
No. Instead of letters of recommendation, we ask applicants to list three CSE faculty references. Faculty will submit feedback through the online application. If there are faculty outside of CSE who would like to provide feedback, please contact the advising team.
How can I make sure faculty give me a good reference?
Select faculty who know you well: professors in whose classes you performed well, people with whom you interacted often, and people who can speak specifically about your work. Working on research with a professor is a good way to form this relationship with a faculty member. If you are unsure whether professors will provide a positive recommendation, you could ask them something like, "Do you feel you know me and my work well enough to provide a positive reference for the BS/MS application?"
I did research with faculty in another department, but I earned credit through CSE. Can I use my faculty reearch advisor in the other department as a reference on the application?
The online application only allows you to select CSE faculty and CSE Affiliate faculty. If you worked with someone in another department but earned credit through CSE, you may mention that professor in your personal statement and provide an email address so we can contact her or him.
How can I be a competitive applicant?
Admission is competitive; we have space for only a small number of students, and the applicant pool is very strong. We will need to deny many well-qualified applicants. Admitted students will be academically competitive, present a well-written and compelling personal statement, and provide highly favorable CSE faculty references.
How many students will be admitted per year?
The program is currently admitting around 30-40 students per year.
Can I attend the BS/MS program part-time?
We realize some students may take an extra quarter to finish program requirements, but the BS/MS is not meant as a part-time program. Students who want a part-time master's program should apply to CSE's Professional Master's Program. If you're admitted to the program then have a change of circumstance that prevents full-time enrollment, please talk with an advisor.
Will I be able to use Federal Student Aid towards grad school?
Read this link for information on financial aid and graduate school.
I hear BS/MS students are encouraged to TA and would be paid at the graduate pay rate. Do you know what that is?
Please check the Outside the Classroom FAQs about being a TA.
How much is tuition?
BS/MS students pay tier III grad student tuition. Please check the current rates. Tuition increases annually.
I have loads of questions. Who's my advisor?
Combined BS/MS students continue to work with the CSE undergrad advising staff along with the faculty advisor for the program, Richard Anderson. Crystal Eney and Jenifer Hiigli work most closely with this program on behalf of the ugrad advising team.
What classes will I take as a grad student?
Courses available to each student vary by quarter and individual preparation. You'll select most classes from these areas:
Master's courses in our PhD program (called "quals" courses)
Professional Master's Program courses (generally max of 2 PMP courses during BSMS program)
Master's versions of undergrad courses (Called "CSE M" on the time/teaching schedule
400-level courses that are approved as Core Courses
Courses that fulfill one of the "check-box" requirements such as a capstone
Advisors will send course suggestions and keep you up-to-date on new offerings. However, a number of variables make it impossible to compile a comprehensive list of courses that will work for all BS/MS students: some grad courses may only be appropriate if you've taken an undergrad course in the area; some may be appropriate only if you haven't taken the undergrad version because they will be too similar; some PMP courses may assume extensive professional experience. We also want to help students plan manageable schedules, and new grads may not realize the workload of some grad classes. We'll meet with you individually to plan your classes.
Can I get more info on the 'quals' courses?
Quals courses are Ph.D.-track master's courses (highlighted on the CSE teaching schedule). Many of these will be appropriate for BS/MS students, but the workload will likely be significantly greater than your 400-level CSE courses. Most Ph.D.-track grad students take one or two quals courses each quarter (with no other courses). Even if you're a super strong and motivated student who successfully took three upper-division CSE courses concurrently, you should not plan for more than one, possibly two, quals courses each quarter. We'll talk to each of you individually about specific courses and schedules.
PhD-track courses not highlighted on the teaching schedule as quals courses are much less likely to be appropriate for BS/MS students. They typically require PhD quals courses as prerequisites.
When can I take 400-level courses?
400-level courses taken while you're still an undergrad but after admission to the BSMS program and that do not count anywhere towards your undergraduate degree CAN count towards your master's degree.
What's the Planning Worksheet?
One requirement of the program is an individualized plan for each student. We'll meet with you before you begin the program to talk about your interests and options and to outline a tentative plan of courses. If your interests change, we can adjust this later. Remember to watch your inbox for the deadlines by which new students should submit this plan.
What are the 590 research seminars? Should I take one of these or attend the colloquia?
Most of the CSE research areas have a 590 seminar each quarter. In these seminars, grad students read and present on recent academic articles relevant to the research area. You get one credit for each 590 seminar you take. You also get one credit for enrolling in CSE 519 or 520 and attending CSE colloquia. As listed on the degree requirements page, you need four credits of research seminars or colloquia, so you should plan to take one seminar and/or attend the colloquia each quarter, for a total of four credits.
What are the rules around taking CSE 519/520 Colloquia?
These courses refer to the talks that happen in the department. Regardless of which one you sign up for, the expectation is that you will attend 9 total talks throughout the quarter. This is on the honor system, so there is no sign in sheet or check on these courses, you just acknowledge that will attend 9 talks. We strongly encourage you to attend the Distinguished Lecture Series talks as part of your 519/520 credit. While you can sign up for both to reach 10 credits, only one of 519/520 will generally apply as seminar credit each quarter unless you are truly attending 18 total talks.
How does research fit into my degree requirements?
Some BS/MS students may participate in research, for credit towards your degree and sometimes also paid as an official RA (Research Assistant). The degree requirements page shows how research can apply to your graduate requirements. If you're interested in research, you should contact faculty directly to discuss your interests and see what work they may have available. If you or your potential research advisor has questions about how research can work as part of your masters' degree, contact an undergrad advisor or the program faculty advisor. Please note that if you count any CSE 600 level credits towards your masters' degree, you need to have a substantial thesis at the culmination of the project. (This report should be similar in size and scope to the Honors thesis for ugrads). You need to be registered for 10 credits per quarter if you are on an RA appointment.
What does the Research Thesis look like?
While these are some basic guidelines, it's always best to talk with your faculty advisor directly about their expectations. This should be roughly 20 pages, or at least a substantial piece of work.
What is the topic?
Why is it interesting? (Why should someone care about it?)
What are your contributions?
Lay out organization of the rest of the document
Discuss related work, with citations
Describe what problems they solve, and in what sense they
haven't already solve your problem
Technical sections (title of and number of sections will vary)
Here you go into the technical details of what you did
Talk about experiments you ran, how you ran them
Give details, e.g., about sizes of datasets, run-times,
performance in terms of speed, accuracy, or whatever metric applies
Discussion and future work
What conclusions can you draw?
What are the trade-offs?
Lessons learned: insights about what works and what doesn't
What are potentially fruitful/interesting avenues of future work
Citations referenced in the body of the document.
This isn't one size fits all. E.g., theory-oriented work may have a proof rather than experimental results.
Make sure you are communicating directly with your research advisor. They might give specific feedback or provide an example thesis from a former student.
Can I be a TA?
TA positions may be available for some BS/MS students and would be paid at the graduate pay rate (full tuition, plus a stipend). Note that due to budget restrictions, we do not expect to be able to offer TA positions to all interested BS/MS students. TA's and RA's must be registered for ten credits.
Can I fund my year of masters courses as a TA?
BS/MS students who get a TA position will be paid the graduate TA rate; this includes a monthly salary, plus full tuition, for 20 hours of work per week. Graduate TA rates take effect once you're officially coded as a graduate student; admitted students who are still undergrads still earn the standard undergrad TA rate. Due to budget restrictions, we do not expect to be able to offer TA positions to all interested BS/MS students. You may apply to TA, but please prepare a back-up plan for paying the full tuition for the program. Keep in mind that if you do not TA, you'll likely be able to finish the program more quickly, spending less on tuition and earning a salary sooner.
Where do BS/MS students fit in with other CSE students? Should I stop hanging out with undergrads? Can I attend events for Ph.D. students?
We hope BS/MS students will continue to be active in the CSE community. Some career- or research-related undergrad events may be appropriate, and BS/MS students are invited to the graduate TGIF happy-hour events each Friday (usually in the atrium; look for email announcements).
We expect that BS/MS students will likely form their own social circle as well since you occupy a unique position in the department. Welcome events for BS/MS students should help you meet your BS/MS peers. If you have ideas for other BS/MS events, let advisors know.
Is this master's going to be viewed as equal to a "real" masters?
CSE BS/MS students take real graduate courses and receive a real diploma (it reads "Master's of Science in Computer Science & Engineering"). We require 40 credits for the masters, four credits beyond the standard minimum of 36 the UW requires for master's programs. CSE BS/MS students can earn a master's degree in a relatively short amount of time because they integrate their bachelor's and master's requirements -- completing the same amount of work normally required for both a BS and MS but compressed into roughly three years total.
Realistically, master's programs vary, and the reputation for this program will be established by the students currently enrolled. Individuals will determine how valuable this program is for them by designing their curriculum and utilizing the extra time here for research, internships, networking, and other opportunities.
How much of a salary boost will a master's give me?
Your salary prospects depend on your individual qualifications. However, it's reasonable to expect that an extra year of advanced coursework, professional networking, and (for some) research, plus an additional summer for one more internship, will give students a noticeable boost in salary and job prospects. CareerBuilder.com reports that a master's degree translates into $21,530 more in salary per year. The NSF reports a differential of $17,000 per year.
Can I go to a Ph.D. program after the combined BS/MS?
Maybe. Competitiveness for Ph.D. programs depends on many factors, but it's reasonable to expect that an extra year of advanced coursework, networking with faculty, and research opportunities would benefit students in applying to Ph.D. programs. However, remember that this program is designed as a stand-alone master's degree, not as a transitional piece between undergrad and Ph.D. work. We encourage strong students who know they want a Ph.D. to apply directly to Ph.D. programs. If you're uncertain of you interests, contact a CSE advisor or the program faculty advisor. Our grad advisor and other faculty could also give insight into your options or your particular area of interest.
Questions or concerns?
Please contact the BS/MS Advising Team if you have any questions or concerns not addressed on this page.