FAQ for the MS Program
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More relevant for new students
- Who is my academic advisor?
- How do I declare what MS option I want to choose?
- How many credits do I need to register to count as full time?
- I am an international student. I have a question about visa regulations or I need a specific visa related approval. Who do I ask?
- I just joined the department and I am very confused about what courses to take.
- A course I want to register is full already. What can I do?
- I am an international student and I know that I have to register for 12 graduate credits this semester to count as full time. But I cannot find enough classes to fill up 12 credits that will be part of my MS degree requirements.
- I am really interest to do research in Topic X. I would like to do an independent study/MS Project/Thesis on this topic. What should I do?
- I am really interested in doing an independent study/MS Project/Thesis with Professor Y. What should I do?
- I have taken graduate credits in another university before coming to Stony Brook. Can I transfer them and use them as a part of the graduation requirement?
- I am weak in one or more topic in computer science. I think I will find graduate courses too tough. Can I take undergraduate courses to bring myself upto speed?
- I have seen a lot of students going for summer internship. Is this a requirement?
- If I do not go for internship, what can I do in the summer?
The Graduate Program Director is your default advisor until you choose an advisor for your project (Advanced Project Option) or thesis (Thesis Option). For students choosing the Basic Project Option, the Graduate Program Director remains as the advisor.
No need to declare anything. You just need to fall within one option at the time of graduation. The courses that are not part of that option will not be counted.
Generally speaking, you will need to register for at least 12 graduate credits per semester until you have 24 graduate credits. Beyond this, the minimum requirement is 9 graduate credits per semester. Note that international students on student visa must register full time. Also, note that these credits must be graduate credits and not undergraduate credits. Courses with numbers 500 and above are graduate courses. For more details see the Graduate Handbook.
The department does not have capability to offer visa related advising. You need to see an advisor in the Visa and Immigration Services and/or consult their web pages for routine information. However, the department works with the Visa and Immigration office in case they require any documentation of the studentís performance and academic status.
Read the Graduate Handbook first to familiarize yourself with the requirements of the MS program. If you attend the orientation, this will makes things somewhat easier. If you miss the orientation, donít panic. The orientation simply presents the Handbook and answers general questions. In the first semester, your best strategy would be to try to cover the breadth requirement as much as possible. This provides you with a good background and also familiarizes you with the department. If you feel that you can handle some special topics or advanced courses, you could choose them as well depending on your strength and interests.
This is usually a problem at the beginning of the semester as many students register for too many classes initially trying to make up their mind, but then they drop them when things start stabilizing. So, you will see most classes opening up in the late registration period. It is possible that some very popular classes do not open up. But again we are planning to offer some of these classes every semester. So, you can take this class in the next semester. If you are really interested in a class and that class is closed, good idea to show up in the first lecture anyway and speak with the professor.
In this case, you may have to take courses that do not count as a part of the MS degree requirements. This is not uncommon. Note that the full-time registration requirement is completely independent of MS degree requirement. You have to satisfy the first if you are an international student. You have to satisfy the second in order to get a degree.
First convince a professor that appear to work in areas related to Topic X. Probably take one or more courses related to Topic X to get to know the professors (and the professors to know you). You will need a professorís permission to register for any of these.
Yes. But there are several restrictions you will need to be aware of. As a graduate student you need to register for graduate credits. Undergraduate credits, for example, do not count towards full time registration. The department facilitates taking undergraduate classes as graduate credits via a course designator CSE 587, where the student takes a core undergraduate class and get graduate credit for CSE 587. But you will need to do additional work relative to an undergraduate student taking the same class. Plus, you will get fewer credit (2 instead of 3). Finally, such CSE 587 may not count towards MS graduation unless specifically approved by the Graduate Director. For more details, see the Graduate Handbook.
Regular courses are not typically offered in the summer. But if you are choosing Advanced Project or Thesis Options, summer is an excellent time to get some work done. You can register for CSE523/524 or CSE599 during the summer. You can also do CSE593 independent studies in summer.
More relevant for mid-carrier students
- I want to go for an internship in the summer. What are the rules? Who does make the arrangements for the internships?
- Can I do my MS degree part-time?
- I am interested in Advanced Project Option or Thesis Option. But I cannot find a professor to work with me. I have emailed 5 professors related to the areas of my interest, but never got any response. What should I do?
- I have done CSE523 with Professor X. But I do not wish to continue on that project any more and I want to quit. What are my options?
- I have started with Advanced Project Option and completed CSE523 and started on CSE 524. Now, the project became very interesting and I want to convert the project to a Thesis and choose the Thesis Option. Is this possible?
- I started with the Thesis Option and did 3 (6) credits of CSE599 already. But now, the thesis is not progressing well and I would like to graduate with the Advanced Project Option. Can I convert the 3(6) credits of CSE599 to CSE523 (CSE523 and CSE524)?
- I did CSE XXX and got a poor grade. Can I repeat the same class under the same or different professor to improve my grade?
For international students, there are several restrictions. These restrictions are more related to immigration rules and not due to academic requirements in the department. To understand things better refer to the Graduate Handbook. For domestic students, there are no restrictions.
The university does not do anything directly to provide students with internships. But there are many indirect pointers Ė like job fairs, local advertisements over the graduate email list, contacts from the professors etc. If you really are interested in internships, it is really your responsibility to look for one.
Yes, so long as you do not have any visa-related restrictions. (For example, if you are on a student visa, you are expected to be full-time.) Also, note that most of our classes are offered during the day, and so if you hold another part-time job you may have to schedule your job-related work appropriately.
Some areas in computer science are more popular than others and professors in some areas could be busier than others. You can explore whether you can work in another area, or choose Basic Project Option for graduation.
You can start working with a different professor if you wish. However, in that case you have to redo CSE 523 if you still want to do the Advanced Project Option. Generally speaking, you cannot do CSE 523 and CSE 524 with two different professors as they are meant to be on the same general two-semester long project. The other option is to drop down to the Basic Project Option and take a CSE 522. In either case, your CSE 523 with Professor X will not be counted as a part of the 31 credits required for graduation.
This is possible if your advisor agrees with this. Discuss with the Graduate Director. It would be of your best interest to discuss such conversions sooner than later. Note that such conversation, when approved, only means that one course is acceptable in lieu of another for the purpose of counting MS graduation credits. This will not change your official transcript.
This is possible if your advisor agrees that the work you did for CSE599 would be equivalent to CSE523 (CSE523 and CSE524). If s/he does agree, discuss with the Graduate Director. If s/he does not agree, then you have to redo CSE523 and CSE524. Note also that such conversation, when approved, only means that one course is acceptable in lieu of another for the purpose of counting graduation credits. This will not change your official transcript.
A course can be repeated. But the older course will still appear in your transcript and will be counted to compute your official overall GPA. But the CS department will count only the later grade internally for the purpose of evaluating whether the student makes the GPA cut-off (3.0) in the courses that make up the MS graduation requirement. For more information see the Graduation Requirement in the Graduate Handbook.
Note that the above does not apply to some advanced courses like CSE590, CSE591 etc that use the same course number for completely different courses in different semesters. They are treated as completely different courses.
More relevant for students close to graduation
- I am an international student and this is my final semester in the MS program and I need only a few credits to graduate. Do I still need to register for 9 credits as a full-time student?
- I have completed the graduation requirements for the MS degree. But I would like to stay back in the university for another semester to gain some research or project experience so that I can get a very good job. Is this possible?
You can take an underload in your last (graduating) semester. This means registering for less than full-time credits. However, this requires prior approval. See the graduate handbook. However, you should really make sure that you indeed graduate in that semester. There can be serious immigration related implications if you do not for some reason. If you are unsure, it is best to register the required 9 credits.
You are required to graduate as soon as you complete the requirements for the degree. You can always take additional classes as a non-matriculated student after your graduation or even informally work with a professor assuming you have a working relationship with a professor already. Note that if you are an international student, you may require appropriate immigration authorization for this. But in no case you can delay your graduation.