Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Current CS Graduate Students

The sections below provide answers to frequently asked questions from current grad students.

Where are the official requirements, rules, policies, or timelines for my degree?
There are two documents that govern your degree program:

The answers provided below are intended to elaborate and/or clarify the rules from these sources, but do not replace them; in the case of any discrepancy, this FAQ is incorrect (and please let the GPM know about it!)

How many credits should I register for in order to be a full-time student?
GSAS considers nine credits (three courses) to be a full-time student credit load.

I need full-time status but have fewer than nine credits to take this semester. What should I do?
You need to enroll in a particular section of COSC 9999 “Thesis Research” — this is the case even if you are an M.S. coursework student who is not writing a thesis.

There are multiple sections of COSC 9999 corresponding to different situations; see the next question down for details.

This situation usually applies to:

  • International M.S. students who have finished most of their coursework
    • M.S. coursework students in their final semester of the program
    • M.S. thesis students in their final year of the program
  • Ph.D. students who have finished – or almost finished – the coursework for the program

Which section of COSC 9999 “Thesis Research” should I enroll in?
The section of Thesis Research you enroll in depends on whether or not you are taking any other courses this semester:

  • If you are taking no other courses or credits this semester, then you need to register for Section 01 (999-01). This situation applies to
    • M.S. thesis students who have finished their 24 credits of coursework (and are working on the thesis)
    • Ph.D. students who are not taking any courses or seminars this semester
    • Note: COSC 9999-01 carries a tuition charge of $2750 for the semester
  • If you are taking more than zero (but fewer than nine) credits this semester, then you need to register for Section 03 (9999-03). This situation applies to
    • M.S. coursework students in their final semester (taking the last 3 credits of the degree)
    • M.S. thesis students in their second-last semester (taking the last 6 credits of the degree)
    • Ph.D. students taking fewer than nine credits (e.g., taking a 2-credit seminar)
    • Note: COSC 9999-03 does not carry a tuition charge

When I try to register for COSC 9999 I see a “Department Approval Required” error. What should I do?
Registration for Thesis Research is restricted by the Graduate School and, despite the text of this error, the GPM cannot override this restriction directly.

Before the start of each semester, the GPM sends a list of students who need registration in COSC 9999 to the Grad School. This means that, in most cases, your registration in the course will appear in your degree audit without you needing to do anything.

If you believe you should have registration in COSC 9999 during a term (and it is after the first day of courses for that term), please send an email to the GPM so they can resolve the issue for you.

Which courses satisfy the “Systems” requirement of the M.S. degree (and Ph.D. degree requirements)?
The list of courses which satisfy the “Systems” requirement can be found by clicking here.

Which courses satisfy the “Theory” requirement of the Ph.D. core qualifying requirements?
The list of courses which satisfy the “Theory” requirement can be found by clicking here.

I want to take an external elective this semester. What should I do?
There are two steps to register for an external elective: getting approval for the external elective and registering for the external elective.

Note: Remember that you are limited to at most two external electives as part of your degree program.

The first step is obtaining graduate committee approval. To do this, send an email to the Graduate Program Manager which contains:

  • The course number and title (e.g., MATH 672 “Advanced Linear Algebra”)
  • The course description (from the GU course catalog)
  • A brief explanation of why you want to take this external elective, such as how it aligns with your planned research or professional career.

This information will be passed to the graduate committee who will review the course and make a decision on whether the course is approved.

If the course is approved, the second step is registering for the course. You may be able to register directly in MyAccess; however, many graduate courses at Georgetown have a program/major restriction that will prevent you from self-registering. If this is the case, you will need to

  • Contact the instructor of the course and request permission to enroll. Depending on the course, the instructor may ask you for information about your background/prerequisites before approving.
  • Once you’ve obtained approval from the instructor, contact the Graduate Program Manager to have them send an “Add/Change Form” to you via DocuSign.

I want to take a consortium course as an external elective. What should I do?
There are two steps to register for a consortium external elective: getting approval for the course and registering for the course.

The first step is obtaining graduate committee approval. This process is the same as obtaining approval for a GU external elective (see the previous question). Since your course will be taught at another university, it is particularly important to provide details of the course topics for the grad committee to review.

If the course is approved, the second step is registering for the course. The GPM will send you the “Consortium Registration Form” via DocuSign for you to review and sign. This form is approved by our registrar and then transmitted to the consortium university registrar, who completes the process.

Upon successful registration, you’ll receive registration and login/access information (such as a “netid” for the other school) directly from the other university.

Do you have a list of external electives the graduate committee has already approved?
Not at the moment (the old list was extremely out of date). Contact the GPM if you have questions about possible external electives.

I think I need some sort of Graduate School form to complete a degree milestone. What should I do?
Contact the GPM. They have DocuSign copies of all the degree milestone forms that they can send to you/your adviser/your committee to ensure the forms are completed accurately and on-time.

It’s my last semester of my degree program. How do I apply to graduate?
See the Graduate School’s instructions on how to graduate for the details of when and where to apply to graduate.

Look out! There is a special (and very early in the semester) deadline for applying to graduate in May, due to the time needed to print commencement programs. Pay attention to this deadline!

I am a Ph.D. student who has completed the coursework portion of the degree. How do I apply for the M.S. in passing?
Contact the GPM and they will send you the “Petition for the Masters in Passing” form via DocuSign.

This petition must be completed and sent to the Graduate School by the deadline for applying to graduate in order for the degree to confer; the M.S. in passing degree confers at the same times as terminal M.S. degrees do — May, August, or December.

I think my degree audit in MyDegree is incomplete and/or inaccurate. What should I do?
Send an email to the Graduate Program Manager describing the missing or incorrect degree requirement and they’ll look into it. The MyDegree degree audit is meant to be a helpful reference for both you and the GPM in tracking your degree completion.

Note: It can be the case that MyDegree shows an incomplete degree requirement in error — this will not prevent you from graduating, so long as you have actually completed all of the degree requirements.

How do I apply for a leave of absence?
Consult this portion of the Graduate Bulletin for the distinctions between personal, medical, and military leaves of absence (the latter two come with specific requirements).

If you have decided that a leave of absence is the right option for you, then contact the GPM so they can send you the “Petition for a Leave of Absence” via DocuSign.

I have a question about US Dept. of State or Georgetown policies for international students. Who should I talk to?
The Office of Global Services will provide the most complete and correct answers to your questions about visas, immigration paperwork, requirements, degree completion dates, and more.

The GPM has been explicitly directed not to provide advice on many topics related to this paperwork — the GPM is not an expert in any of these things and doesn’t want to provide incorrect information leading to negative consequences!

I want to do a CPT internship this summer (or fall/spring). What should I do?
There are two pieces to applying for a CPT internship position which can be completed at the same time: the CPT request form (for OGS) and the internship tutorial registration.

The GPM can provide the “CPT Request Form” via DocuSign which includes a checklist of the items OGS requires you to provide. This form is governed by OGS policies which are detailed on the the OGS website.

The GPM will also provide a “Tutorial Registration Form” via DocuSign which you will complete by providing the details of your internship including the company name; location where you will be working; the start and end date of your internship; and a description of the duties you will carry out during your internship.

The GPM will use this information to create and register you for a section of COSC 901/902/903 (902 corresponds to the summer term, and is the most common). This course carries a 0.25 credit load and has the DGS as the instructor of record. You will be required to submit a short write-up of the work you do during your internship in order to receive a final grade in this course.

Note: The 0.25-credit internship tutorial does carry a corresponding tuition charge which will appear on your student account during the internship. In particular, this charge is not covered by a Ph.D. merit aid offer; you should plan to pay this fee using a portion of your internship salary.

Once both of these forms are completed and submitted, OGS will make a final approval of the CPT request and prepare the appropriate paperwork.

I am about to graduate and want to apply for OPT. What should I do?
You can review the process and policies to apply for OPT approval on the OGS website.

My question does not appear above. What should I do?
If you have carefully read the Grad Student handbook and the information above and still have questions, send an email to the Graduate Program Manager at