Master of Computer Science (MCS)

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With the growing industry need for high-demand computing skills, the Master of Computer Science (MCS) provides an applied foundation in computer science without requiring a previous computer science degree. The program balances technical expertise while giving students real-world experience in applying what they’ve learned. Professionals gain relevant skills they can use right away in the workplace.

Value Proposition Description

The Master of Computer Science is an applied, terminal degree for professionals who benefit from a computer science skill set. Students who do not have a bachelor’s degree in computer science (the earned equivalent of a four-year U.S. bachelor’s degree is required to be considered for admission) but who would benefit from a stronger understanding of computer science applications will find this Master of Computer Science a good fit.

This degree program is designed to accommodate those who already are professionals in the field as well as students seeking to become professionals in the field. The Master of Computer Science focuses more on applied aspects of computer science than the Master of Science in Computer Science (MS in computer science) degree.

This degree differs from a Master of Science in Computer Science program in that it does not provide options related to a research degree nor does it include a thesis option or research seminars. This degree provides an option for students interested in a computing career. Each MCS student completes a capstone experience—a substantial evaluation of the student's computer science experience. Students are encouraged to work in teams and select projects with practical experience relevant to their career goals and personal development.

The MCS provides the necessary foundation in programming, systems, and networks for students to contribute to the computing field and achieve their career goals.


The Master of Computer Science provides a rigorous approach to understanding advanced computer science concepts, but incorporates foundation courses and a design core to ensure that incoming students have sufficient preparation for the more advanced computer science courses and software development expertise. Students may choose a focus area to further specialize their skills while gaining a broad training for a computer science industry position that requires significant computing.

The Master of Computer Science degree program requires at least 30 credits hours of study, which will include 10 three-credit courses.

Students with no prior background may complete this 30-credit plan:

Foundation (6 credits)

  • CS 5007 Introduction to Programming Concepts, Data Structures, and Algorithms
  • CS 5008 Introduction to Systems and Network Programming

Design Core (12 credits)

  • CS 5084 Introduction to Algorithms: Design and Analysis
  • CS 509 Design of Software Systems
  • CS 542 Database Management Systems
  • Either
    • CS 528 Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing or
    • CS 546 Human-Computer Interaction


Elective Courses (9 credits)

  • Elective focus areas:
    • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Focus
    • Big Data Management Focus
    • Computing Systems Focus
    • Cybersecurity Focus


Capstone Experience (3 credits)

  • CS 588 Computer Science Capstone Experience


Students with strong prior backgrounds may omit some foundation courses and instead complete additional elective courses.

BS/MS Option

  • Current WPI students, even those whose undergraduate degree is not in computer science, may look into a BS/MS program option to gain both degrees in an accelerated plan.

Learn more about WPI's MS in Cyber Security and Cybersecurity at WPI


Application Qualifications

The program does not require an undergraduate degree in computer science, but applicants need experience with a programming language, such a Python, Java, C, or C++ and undergraduate math coursework in calculus, statistics, or probability.

The application is closed for Spring 2023 as of October 19, 2022. Applications submitted after that time will be considered for Fall 2023. Click here to apply now.

If you do not have a bachelor's degree, please view our list of undergraduate programs.

Is the Master of Computer Science the Right Degree for You?

If you’re looking for a degree that builds on an undergraduate Computer Science (or related) degree and has options for in-depth study of Computer Science, thesis-level research or PhD preparation, WPI’s Master of Science in Computer Science is a better fit. Find out which degree is right for you.

Master of Computer Science Career Options After Graduation

The global demand for computer science professionals continues to grow quickly. Even professionals who don’t have a bachelor’s in computer science find employment opportunities and growth in the many specialties in the industry. To keep up with this demand for computing professionals, students who are trained in skills for these jobs will find a robust and lucrative job market. See the computer science career outlook for information about Master of Computer Science salary or for information about master’s in computer science jobs.


Graduate Studies Series

Team members from Graduate & Professional Studies host quick and convenient webinars designed to highlight popular topics when starting grad school. Take a deep dive into specific areas of interest such as how to secure funding, how to ace your application, an overview of student services, and more!


Getting Involved As You Earn Your Master of Computer Science

WPI's graduate students are an active group who enjoy connecting and collaborating with their peers. The many clubs, organizations, and events help connect all students so you'll stay in touch whether you are on campus or online. Several organizations are specifically for computer science gradaute students:

  • Computer Science Graduate Student Organization (CS-GSO)
  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
  • Women in Computer Science (WiCS)
George Heineman
George Heineman
Associate Professor, Computer Science

Computer programming makes it possible to solve problems that otherwise could never be attempted. You can create worlds that could never be possible and help make this world a better place. Most of my professional and personal accomplishments were possible directly because of my understanding and practice of computer programming. For me, programming led me to appreciate fundamental concepts in computer science and directed me to major in CS. I've always been passionate about the possibilities of computer programming; this forms the basis for all of my teaching.

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Craig Wills
Craig Wills
Professor, Computer Science

My research has primarily focused on Internet application performance and measurement with more recent work examining issues related to Internet privacy. This work has led to a number of research publications and presentations as well as visibility in venues such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and NPR Science Friday.

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Are You Ready for the Next Step in Your Computer Science Career?

Whether you’re looking for a flexible program or an opportunity for rigorous research, WPI’s computer science department has myriad programs to fit your needs. The Master of Science in Computer Science (MS in computer science) degree program will advance your skills through work in the classroom and in WPI’s cutting-edge labs. You may target your academics toward what interests you—including areas such as artificial intelligence, data mining, learning sciences, game development, mobile computing, and security.

Are you specifically interested in interpreting data for patterns and learning how to use that information to help organizations? The data science field is growing quickly and a master’s in data science might be your next step.

If you are looking for a PhD in computer science, our program offers opportunities to push the boundaries of research. You’ll be able to explore the possibilities in specialties including robotics, image science, software engineering, artificial intelligence, and computer security.

And if you’re already a working professional but don’t have the time for an advanced degree program just yet, look into WPI’s computer science graduate certificate to boost your skills in a manageable program.

Get Started with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science

If you’re interested in everything about computer science, getting a foundation to launch an interesting career begins with a bachelor’s in computer science. WPI’s BS in computer science degree program gives you the technical skills and the understanding of how to apply this expertise in a real-world environment. You’ll be equipped to use your technical skills to solve important problems in society. Are you majoring in another discipline, but enjoy computer science? A minor in computer science will augment any discipline and give you the advantage of understanding the basics of computer science so you can use that knowledge in your career.

Earn Your Master's in Information Technology

Are you a working professional who wants to combine business and tech into one valuable degree? WPI’s master's in information technology online gives you the flexible degree plan you need and the rigorous technical applications relevant to a business environment. The skills you learn can be applied in your work right away so you’ll make a difference before you even graduate. If you'd prefer studying on campus, consider our on-campus master’s in information technology, which immerses students in cutting-edge topics alongside our expert faculty.