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What are the Prerequisites for a Master’s in Computer Science?

One of the best master’s degree programs, in terms of relevance, is without a doubt, a Master of Science in Computer Science. As the world shifts into the digital age, those who are intimately familiar with the ins and the outs will be key in leading the charge. However, to start that journey, a proper understanding of a master’s degree in computer science prerequisites will be necessary.

Business and government leaders alike recognize the importance of technical expertise at the national and global levels. For the brightest high-tech professionals, already successful in the field, fulfillment of a graduate degree is the logical next step. Computer science experts in pursuit of a new academic or career pathway might even find that it is a job requirement.

A good starting point is an exploration of the educational and/or professional credentials needed to satisfy the master’s in computer science prerequisites.

Read further and learn more about:




To get a feel for fundamental objectives of a program, explore the JHU Engineering for Professionals Computer Science program.

Why Get a Master’s in Computer Science?

When evaluating the pros and cons, the tallies point towards the advantages of earning a Master’s of Science  in Computer Science. There is a multitude of benefits:

  1. Job security—stability is everything these days
  2. High earning potential—just look at these strong starting salary stats
  3. Demand exceeds supply—projected 13% job growth from 2020 to 2030
  4. Career advancement—a must-have for leadership roles
  5. Specialized job skills—acquire cutting-edge techniques
  6. Applicable to multiple industries —enterprise, academia, healthcare, etc. 

Master’s Prerequisites vs Master’s Requirements

Sometimes prospective students struggle in differentiating between admissions prerequisites (what’s needed to be accepted into the program) and graduation requirements (what’s needed to obtain a degree). While we’ll get back to the prerequisites for a master’s in computer science, we want to take a minute to go over the requirements as well. 

Below are standard requirements for a masters in computer science, but note that these may vary depending on the university:

  • 10 classes within a 5-year period (marked by the day of enrollment in the first graduate class).
  • Typically, program coursework includes 3 Foundation courses, 5 Computer Science courses, and 2 Electives.
  • Internships are not a requirement to graduate.

3 Most Common Requirements Questions:

  • How many courses do you take per semester?          

Generally speaking, universities recommend one course at the onset. Once acclimated to the program, and you’re able to demonstrate success, you can discuss taking on more classes a semester with an advisor.

  • Are transfer credits accepted from other accredited universities/institutions?    

The short answer is “yes,” but there could be stipulations. Oftentimes, transferred credits must be at the graduate-level, and cannot have been applied towards the completion of another degree. Note also that completion of the masters in computer science requirements begins on Day 1 of enrollment in the first graduate class – including any transferred graduate course. 

  • Can any coursework be waived?

It may depend on the program, but often, a waiver is accepted as an option for students who have previous graduate experience or can prove equivalent work experience. If approved, waiving a foundational course provides the opportunity to take more advanced courses within the 10-course program sequence.

Master’s in Computer Science Prerequisites

Number one on the “should I get my master’s in computer science” checklist is figuring out what exactly is needed to be considered for admittance.

For a comprehensive listing of examples, check out JHU EP’s prerequisites for the program.

Generally speaking, if you can answer yes to the following questions, you have the groundwork set for determining if you have the necessary background for a computer science master’s:

  1. Do you hold a Bachelor’s degree?
  2. In the latter half of your college career, did you earn at least a 3.00 GPA?

From here, you need to take a closer look at your specific courses and experiences in order to determine whether or not you have the requirements that match your program of choice. 

Reputable programs will often have the following computer science master’s degree prerequisites:

College Class # Semesters
Calculus 2
Advanced Math 1
Java/C++ 1
Computer Organization 1
Data Structures 1

Prerequisite course requirements must typically be completed at a regionally accredited university/college, with final grades at a B– or higher.

Preparing Your Application

Once prerequisites have been established, it is time to move forward. Gathering the necessary paperwork can take some time, so be prepared with the following:

  • Proof of courses
  • Test scores
  • Transcripts
  • Personal essay
  • Completion of online application
  • Recommendation letters
  • Resume/CV

In addition to these documents, check to make sure your program of choice does not require any additional items for application. If you are an international student, you may need to demonstrate proof that you are allowed to study in the United States. 

Can You Get a Master’s in Computer Science Without a Computer Science Background?

If the previously outlined prerequisites have not been satisfied, you may still be able to get your degree. Differing from a bachelor’s degree program, a master’s-level platform may offer flexibility and be less rigid with exact prerequisites. For example, some universities will offer provisional admittance where students can take the prerequisite classes while enrolled in the program (provided that a minimal B– grade is earned).

If you do not have an engineering or computer science background, we recommend supplementing the application with a CV or resume. This allows for a more in-depth review of a student’s personal profile and career experience. At the master’s level, and given the large number of working professionals that apply with extensive career experience, this is highly advantageous.

EP Can Help You Reach Your Computer Science Goals

Working professionals who place a high value on their education are ahead of the curve. Leveling up technical skills is not merely a marketplace trend but a career imperative. 

Once you’ve understood the prerequisites for a master’s in computer science, it may also be time to reach out to admissions representatives to learn more about what life is like in your program of choice. 

Our admissions team at Johns Hopkins University’s Engineering for Professionals program would be delighted to address any and all “what ifs.” We welcome the opportunity to get to know you better. The biggest reason professionals have for requesting more information is in understanding the prerequisites and requirements. 

To get a feel for fundamental objectives of a program, explore the JHU Engineering for Professionals Computer Science program.

Let us know what other questions you have.