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MCS and MSCS Program of Study

Master of Science in Computer Science and Master of Computer Science

Plans of Study and Graduate Degree Works


If you are a master’s degree student in computer science, you will need an approved Plan of Study. The plan lists the classes you hope to take to meet your degree requirements (core classes, elective classes, and MCS specialization courses, if any). You develop this list with your advisor, as part of organizing your studies on your way toward earning your degree. To set up a plan of study and submit it for approval, you use Graduate Degree Works, found on the Academics tab of the myIIT portal.

The Plan of Study

A typical full-time master's graduate student needs to have a Plan of Study approved during the first semester to continue taking courses. More precisely, a Plan of Study is due during the semester in which you complete your 9th credit hour of study, so if you are a part-time student, the exact date of the requirement will vary.

Students without an approved plan will find a “Plan of Study” hold barring their registration for second semester courses. Approval of a plan can easily take a couple of weeks because it requires three levels of approval (your advisor, the CS department, and Graduate Academic Affairs), so it is extremely important to submit a plan well before registration opens for the next semester, to avoid a delay in registration.

To develop a Plan of Study, it is recommended that you start by deciding which core classes you plan to take; then add elective courses, including any 400-level prerequisite courses. To see when classes might be offered, see the list of past course offerings. Discuss your list with your advisor before entering it as your Plan of Study. When using Graduate Degree Works to enter your plan, list only the courses you want to take in the future—courses you've already taken or are currently taking are automatically included.

For the mechanics on how to use Graduate Degree Works and its eForms, see the quick start and detailed instruction documents at Forms for Current Graduate Students at Graduate Academic Affairs.

A small note: When using Degree Works you may see references to “MAS” programs. “MAS” is the university's generic abbreviation for “Professional Master's program”. “MCS” is the specific abbreviation for the Master of CS professional program.

Updating a Plan of Study

Once you have an approved plan of study, you should not need to submit anything if you take different core, elective, or specialization courses from the ones on your plan. As long as your new actual coursework includes an appropriate set of courses, the next Graduate Degree Works audit should deduce these changes. Do not use the Plan of Study, Course Substitution, or Transfer Credit eForms to declare these kinds of changes. If you think that Graduate Degree Works has made an error in analyzing your coursework, discuss the situation with your advisor and Graduate Academic Affairs to see what needs to be done.

Other Uses of Graduate Degree Works

Besides declaring plans of study, eForms for Graduate Degree Works is used most often to change, add, or drop an MCS specialization, to change degree programs (such as from MSCS to MCS), or to change the MSCS thesis/non-thesis option. (Typically, you should discuss these changes with your advisor before submitting any of these requests.) Graduate Degree Works is also used to change advisors, and you can do this before or after having a plan approved. Less-often used forms are for Shared Courses (co-terminal students only), Transfer Credit, and Course Substitution.

Co-Terminal Students

Co-terminal students should use the Shared Courses form to list the three (typically 400-level) courses to be used as part of their Graduate Plan of Study. Keep in mind that shared courses are included toward the limit allowed in the graduate Plan of Study (12 hours for MSCS students and 9 for typical MCS students).

As with Transfer Credit, the shared credit request must be approved before submitting a Graduate Plan of Study. This plan should include only the courses that will apply to the graduate degree. For more instructions on co-terminal Shared Credit and Plan of Study, see the resources page for co-terminal students at Graduate Academic Affairs.

Transfer Credit For Courses Outside IIT

One use of the Transfer Credit form is to request that a non-IIT course be part of a Plan of Study. IIT Europe students should use this form to have courses from their home schools approved for use at IIT. (Get Dr. Sasaki's approval for your courses before submitting your request.) As part of the approval process, IIT Europe students must have their home (European) institution send their official transcripts to at Graduate Academic Affairs. The Transfer Credit request must be fully approved before submitting a Plan of Study that includes the transferred courses.

If you are not an IIT Europe student and want to use a course from a previous school as part of your Plan of Study, first see the restrictions on the department's Transfer Credit page as well as IIT’s policy on Graduate Transfer Credit (in the Graduate Bulletin) and then get advisor (and possibly department) approval before submitting a Transfer Credit request.

Transfer Credit for Non-CS IIT Courses

Transfer Credit is also used by MSCS and MCS students to request that a CS-related IIT course be included in a plan of study. (See the list of approved courses.) Submit a Transfer Credit request to treat your course as equivalent to CS 495. In the comments, include a statement saying you want to use a non-CS course as part of your plan. Do not transfer your course as CS 595—courses from outside CS are not counted toward the requirement for 500-level computer science course credits.

Note this transfer credit process should not be needed by MCS students with specializations in business, finance, or education, nor by students in the MTSE-CS or MSCS/Master of Chemical Engineering programs.

When Not to Use Graduate Degree Works

Do not use Transfer Credit to carry IIT computer science courses with you when you change from non-degree to degree-seeking status, or change programs within the computer science department, or change to computer science from another department. Your courses should appear in the next Graduate Degree Works audit.

Do not use Course Substitution to update your Plan of Study. Use Course Substitution in the rare instance that you're allowed to change degree requirements: For example, to use a CS 597 master's project as an MCS specialization course. (Talk to your advisor and get approval from the department Graduate Committee before making such a request.)

Do contact Graduate Academic Affairs if you have courses in Fall-Through. Also contact them if you want to change your degree requirements from the ones listed in your original graduate bulletin (the one in force when you matriculated) to the requirements in the current graduate bulletin (for example, to take advantage of just-added MCS specialization courses).

Last Updated: 3/8/2017