Master's Program Overview

Master’s Program Overview

Our highly regarded academics, groundbreaking research, and supportive environment makes Iowa State’s Department of Computer Science an exceptional place to pursue an advanced degree with immediate career applications.

Iowa State University is a top-tier, Carnegie R1 research institution, and our Department of Computer Science boasts over $16 million in active research grants. Our world-class faculty includes ACM Distinguished Scientists, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellows, and Fulbright Scholars.

Our graduates are well-equipped to tackle some of the toughest problems companies present to them. Iowa State graduates go on to careers at the world’s leading companies such as Microsoft, Walt Disney, Google, Kingland, John Deere, LinkedIn, and many others.

Our M.S. degree programs stress both theoretical and experimental methods for solving fundamental as well as practical problems. Explore our programs below. To learn more and speak with our staff, register for our virtual information session.

If you’re ready to apply, review our master’s application requirements.


M.S., COMPUTER SCIENCE

Program completion in 2 years.
30-33 graduate credits with Creative Component and Thesis options

M.S. COM S Creative Component (Non-Thesis) Course Requirements

Core Courses (12 credits): Design and Analysis of Algorithms (511), Principles of Operating Systems (552), Principles and Practice of Compiling (540), and Principles of Artificial Intelligence (572)

Breadth Courses (12 credits): One course from each of the following areas: Theory, Systems, Software, and Application. Students are required to take 531 for the theory course or take 331 and a different 500-level course.

Electives (6 credits): Two courses from COM S 500-level or above on computing related topics. 

Advanced Topics: One of the above courses must be COM S 600-level (excluding COM S 610 and 699).

Creative Component (3 credits): COM S 599 is a capstone course that is offered the final semester of your program. Students will complete an industry-based project.

M.S. COM S Thesis Course Requirements

Core Courses (6 credits): Design and Analysis of Algorithms (511) and Theory of Computation (531).

Breadth Courses (9 credits): Three COM S 500-level courses from a minimum of two breadth areas (AI& Machine Learning, Computer Architecture & Parallel Computing, BCB, Database and Information Systems, Distributed Computing, Networks & Operating Systems, HCI/Graphics & Robotics, SE & Programming Languages, Theory, Algorithms & Complexity).

Electives (9 credits): Three courses from COM S 500-level or above on computing related topics. 

Advanced Topics: One of the above courses must be COM S 600-level (excluding COM S 610 and 699).

Research (6 credits): COM S 699 is taken as independent research culminating in the preparation of a thesis under the supervision of a student's major professor.


M.S., ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Program completion in 2 years.
30 graduate credits with Creative Component and Thesis options

M.S. AI Creative Component (Non-Thesis) Course Requirements

Core Courses (9 credits): Design and Analysis of Algorithms (511), Principles of Artificial Intelligence (572), and Machine Learning (573).

Depth Courses (9 credits): Choose three courses from the following list, Introduction to Machine Learning (574), Computational Perception (575), Intro. to Natural Language Processing (579), Optimization for Machine Learning (578), or Intro. to Computer Vision (536).

Electives (6 credits): Three courses from COM S 500-level or above on computing related topics. 

Advanced Topics (3 credits): Choose one course from the following list, Distributed Algorithms (61), Parallel Algorithms for Scientific Applications (626), Theory of Games, Knowledge and Uncertainty (634), Advanced Topics in Computational Intelligence (672), or Advanced Topics in Computational Modes of Learning (673).

Creative Component (3 credits): COM S 599 is a capstone course that is offered the final semester of your program. Students will complete an industry-based project.

M.S. COM S Thesis Course Requirements

Core Courses (9 credits): Design and Analysis of Algorithms (511), Principles of Artificial Intelligence (572), and Machine Learning (573).

Depth Courses (6 credits): Choose two courses from the following list, Introduction to Machine Learning (574), Computational Perception (575), Intro. to Natural Language Processing (579), Optimization for Machine Learning (578), or Intro. to Computer Vision (536).

Electives (6 credits): Three courses from COM S 500-level or above on computing related topics. 

Advanced Topics (3 credits): Choose one course from the following list, Distributed Algorithms (61), Parallel Algorithms for Scientific Applications (626), Theory of Games, Knowledge and Uncertainty (634), Advanced Topics in Computational Intelligence (672), or Advanced Topics in Computational Modes of Learning (673).

Research (6 credits): COM S 699 is taken as independent research culminating in the preparation of a thesis under the supervision of a student's major professor.