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Graduate Program

Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is a list of all the courses you plan to take or have taken to fulfill the requirements for the degree. The Department, the Office of Graduate Education, and the Registrar's Office refer to your Plan of Study when they check whether you are fulfilling the degree requirements. When it comes time for you to graduate, the Registrar's Office will compare your Plan of Study with your transcript, to be certain that you took the courses you were supposed to.

The form is available online. You can print out the pdf version at http://www.rpi.edu/dept/grad/docs/pos02.PDF and fill it out by hand, or you can download the Word version at http://www.rpi.edu/dept/grad/docs/pos02.doc and fill it out in Word. You will probably have to revise your Plan of Study several times, so it will be easier to make revisions if you complete the form in Word rather than handwrite it. If you choose to hand write the form, it must be neat and easy to read. It should not be filled in with pencil.

Your Plan of Study should indicate that you will be fulfilling the following requirements:

For a Master's Degree:

  • Two systems courses, including CSCI-6140 Computer Operating Systems. (If you earned your BS in CSCI at RPI, operating systems was required for your BS, so just take list two systems beyond what you took for your BS.)
  • Two theory courses, including CSCI-6210 Design and Analysis of Algorithms. (If you took CSCI-Computability and Complexity or CSCI-6220 Randomized Algorithms, these can be counted in place of CSCI-6210, but we don't expect to offer these courses again in the immediate future.)
  • Either 3-4 credits of a master’s project (CSCI 6970 or CSCI 6980) or 6-9 credits of a master’s thesis (CSCI 6990)
  • a total of exactly 30 credits
  • no more than 12 credits at the 4000 level
  • no more than six independent study credits
  • at least 24 credits must be at RPI

When listing the systems and theory courses, place a check in the "Required" column.

For a PhD

  • a total of exactly 72 credits
  • at least 36 credits of coursework
  • at least 24 research credits
  • at least 2/3 of your credits for courses must be 6000 level
  • no more than 15 credits at the 4000 level
  • no more than nine independent study credits (no more than six if you are counting a Master's from another school)
  • at least 48 credits taken at RPI (not transfer credits)

Pursuing MS and PhD degrees at RPI

If you are pursuing both an M.S. and a Ph.D., you should file separate Plan of Study forms for each degree. You may list all 30 credits from an RPI Master's on your PhD Plan of Study. MS thesis and project credits do not count as either course or research credits for the PhD.

PhD Plan of Study for students with MS from another school

If you have a Master's from another school, list the MS on your Plan of Study, and list it as counting for 24 credits. Now list 48 additional credits for your PhD, so the total will still be 72. The 24 for the Master's are considered course credits, so your additional 48 credits should include at least 12 course credits and at least 24 research credits.


Your curriculum is Computer Science. You may write this out, or you may abbreviate it as CSCI.

Extra credits

The total number of credits listed should be 72 for the PhD and 30 for the MS. It is likely that you will register for more than that number of credits while you are a student here. You do not list all the credits you register for. Just list the credits that are needed to count toward your degree. If needed, you don't have to list all the credits for a particular course. For example, if you take a 3-credit course, it is okay to list only 2 credits for that course. Courses may be counted for the core qualifying exam or research qualifying exam even if they are not listed on your Plan of Study.

Transfer credits

You may count up to 24 transfer credits toward your PhD or up to six transfer credits toward your MS. If your courses were part of a Master's degree, the Master's degree automatically counts for 24 credits toward a PhD, and you can't count any additional transfer credits. For any transfer credit situation other than counting a prior MS toward a PhD, you need to get the courses approved individually. Use the transfer credit approval form to get the transfer credits approved. See Professor David Goldschmidt for the department approval signature. When the transfer credit is approved, you will get RPI course numbers for the courses for which you have transfer credit. Use these RPI course numbers to list the courses on your Plan of Study.

Semester and Year

The semester section is divided into two columns. In the "Year" column, write the year, such as 2018. (Some students make the mistake of writing "1" for their first year.) In the "F, S, U" use one of the letters to indicate whether you will take the credits in Fall, Spring, or sUmmer.

Completing the form

On the Plan of Study, you should list all the credits you will count toward your degree (not necessarily all credits you have taken). You should list the course number with subject prefix (e.g. CSCI) and course title.

The form must be signed by you, your advisor, and the Graduate Program Director. You can have Terry Hayden check your form before your advisor signs it. After you and your advisor sign the form, leave the form with Terry. She will get the Graduate Program Director signature, and then will make copies. She will send the original to the Registrar's Office, send a copy to the Office of Graduate Education, and keep a copy for your file.

If the courses you end up taking are different from those listed on the Plan of Study, you must file a revised Plan of Study form. You don't need to file a revision every time you make a change, but your Plan of Study will need to be up to date any time you submit a request to the Office of Graduate Education, and when you graduate. If the only change is the date of graduation, but the courses you take stay the same, you do not need to file a new Plan of Study.

* Return to main Graduate Program page