Degree Requirements

The Department of Computer Science offers different master's degree programs, each with its own admissions criteria and degree requirements. Thus, although you may be in courses with other CS graduate (and undergraduate) students, the following requirements are only for the CL MS degree, and not for the other MS programs in Computer Science.

The Two-Year CL MS degree requires four semesters of enrollment for full-time students, and full-time GSAS students must take a minimum of three courses per semester. Thus, a minimum of 12 courses are required for all Two-Year CL MS students, whether full-time or part-time.

Fifth Year BS/MS students must complete the same 12-course requirement to complete the CL MS, but will have taken some of these courses during their undergraduate studies. Since the MS year for BS/MS students requires two semesters of enrollment for full-time students, this means that a minimum of six courses must be taken during this fifth MS year.

There are four basic types of courses that will make up the 12 minimum courses taken by each CL MS student.

(A) Up to 6 Student-Specific Computer Science and Linguistics Background Courses

These are required of students who have not had an equivalent course prior to entering. Whether or not a given student must take each of these will be determined during the advising meetings that take place preceding the first day of classes in students' first semester of the program. Students entering with prior in-depth study of both computer science and generative/formal linguistics may not need any of these; at the other extreme, students entering with prior study of neither computer science nor formal linguistics would take all six. Most courses taken in our program are offered in just one but not both of the Fall and Spring terms. Courses for which this is true show the term in which they are offered in parentheses.

  • LING 120b - Syntactic Theory (offered every Fall)

  • LING 130a - Formal Semantics (offered every Spring)

  • LING 160b - Mathematical Methods in Linguistics (offered every Fall)

  • COSI 11a - Programming in Java and C (offered in Fall only)

  • COSI 12b - Advanced Programming Techniques (offered in Fall & Spring)

  • COSI 21a - Data Structures and the Fundamentals of Computing (offered in Fall & Spring)

(B) 6 CL Core Courses – Required for All Students
  • LING 131b - Intro to Natural Language Processing with Python (first year Fall core course)

  • COSI 114b - Fundamentals of CL (first year Spring core course)

  • COSI 134a - Statistical Approaches to NLP (second year Fall core course)

  • COSI 137b - Information Extraction (second year Spring core course)

  • COSI 138a - CL 2nd Year Seminar (taken in second year, Spring)

  • COSI 140b - Natural Language Annotation for Machine Learning (taken in first year, Spring)

(C) One Semester of either the CL MS Internship or Thesis Course – Required for All Students

Required to satisfy the program's exit requirement, each student must complete at least one semester of one of these courses. (Students may also opt to complete both a thesis and an internship, and/or to complete one or both over two semesters rather than one.)

(D) Up to 5 Required Elective Courses

The six CL core courses in (B) and one semester of the thesis or internship course in (C) serve as seven of the 12 minimum courses required of all students in the Program. This leaves five course slots remaining.

  • If required to take five or more of the Student-Specific Background Courses in Group (A), students will automatically reach the 12 course minimum just in fulfilling their requirements for Groups (A), (B), and (C). For these students, no additional elective courses are required. (These students still can, of course, opt to take additional electives, bringing their total courses taken above the 12 minimum.)

  • If required to take four or fewer Student-Specific courses from Group (A), students will complete their requirements from Groups (A), (B), and (C) without reaching the 12 course minimum. For such students, one or more elective courses are additionally required, so that the student reaches 12 total courses from across Groups (A) through (D). Thus, for instance, if four Group (A) background courses are required for a given student, then the student has a requirement of just one elective course; if two Group (A) background courses are required, then three Electives are needed; and so on.

Elective courses that count toward the degree can be any CL course, or—when a good match for student interests and goals, and with approval by the CL advising faculty—can be a well-chosen course from the straight linguistics or computer science curriculum.

Residency Requirement

For full-time students, four semesters of enrollment are required for the Two-Year CL MS, and two semesters for the Fifth Year CL MS. After the required number of terms of residency are completed, full-time students who need to enroll for one or more additional semesters (e.g., to complete remaining course requirements or the exit requirement) have an 'Extended Master's' enrollment status. This means that they are still allowed to enroll in courses just as an ordinary full-time student would, but pay substantially less in tuition fee amounts.

There is no residency requirement for part-time students. Instead, the counterpart for part-time students involves completing the 12 courses minimum (along with all courses required for the degree) that corresponds to full-time students' minimum of four semesters of residency at three minimum courses per term.

Exit Requirement

In order to complete the CL MS degree, students are required to complete a CL MS thesis (via the course COSI 299a - Computational Linguistics Master's thesis) or a CL internship at a company (via the course COSI 293b - Computational Linguistics Research Internship). As mentioned above, each of these counts as a regular course toward full-time enrollment (thus carrying the full four credits that ordinary courses have), and toward the minimum 12 courses needed to complete the degree.

The Exit Requirement is typically done in the final semester in the program. With the permission of CL advising faculty, students can opt for either of these to span two semesters rather than one, and/or to complete both a thesis and an internship.