Skip to main content.

Graduate Student Handbook

CIS Graduate Student Handbook


The purpose of this handbook is to provide supplemental and program-specific information for CIS graduate students in several areas.  More general information and regulations about CIS Master program can be found on UMass graduate catalog and CIS department website.


Contact Information


To obtain information and get help, you may contact CIS office. Please give at least one-week leading time to process any paperwork.  For Immigration related issue, contact Christina "Tina" Bruen (Phone: 508-910-6633) at international Student & Scholar Center. 


Financial Support Policy


The School will allocate a limited number of graduate assistantships each year.  The following guidelines will be used to determine the recipients of this support.

  • All financial support will be based on merit. Criteria used to determine merit will be the applicant's GRE scores, letters of recommendation and Statement of Purpose.
  • The decision as to who will receive department financial support (i.e., from the general College fund) will be determined by the department’s service needs (e.g., teaching assistants). All graduate students on College support will be assigned appropriate teaching-related duties.  International students must pass the SPEAK test with a minimum score of 55 to be eligible for College teaching assistantships.
  • Assignments in teaching and research for incoming students will be predicated on the student's indicated area of specialization.
  • The decision as to whom will receive support from research grants and contracts will reside with the principal investigator from whose funds the student will be paid.
  • Students making satisfactory progress, subject to the availability of funds, are eligible to receive a maximum of four semesters of College support as MS candidates and six semesters of College support as PhD candidates. Students pursuing the non-thesis MS degree are not eligible for College support.  Students on academic probation or new provisionally admitted students are not eligible for College support.
  • In general, no financial support from the university sources is provided to part-time students unless their services in either teaching or research represent a critical need for the university/program or students no longer need a full-time load of course work during their last semester/year.
  • Students on academic probation, i.e., students who have GPAs below 3.0 or have completed 6 credits for Thesis Research or 12 credits of Dissertation Research without submitting and successfully defending a research proposal are not eligible for financial support as TAs.
  • Graduate students in “program continuation” status are not eligible for TAs, Teaching Fellowships, Graduate Fellowships, or tuition and CSF waivers


Course Load Guidelines

A course load of 9 credits per semester is considered minimum for full-time status in the Graduate School at UMass Dartmouth.  An international student must register full time and stay registered full time for the whole semester. Dropping a course even at the end of the semester that causes the student to fall below full time is unauthorized reduce course load and a student is considered out of status. There are only three exceptions to the full time registration, first semester due to adjustment issues, the end of the study because the student needs less than full time to complete the degree program, or medical reasons with documentation. In such exceptional situations, the student must file a reduce course load form and get approval first in order to maintain his/her full-time student status.

Academic Probation and Dismissal of Graduate Students


A student who has been admitted to a graduate program of study in the CIS department, either on a regular or on a provisional basis, must maintain a 3.00 or higher grade point average in all work taken for graduate credit as well as an overall 3.00 GPA in all studies at UMass Dartmouth.


A student will be placed on academic warning if his/her cumulative GPA is less than 3.00 after having attempted nine (9) or more credits in courses that are eligible to count toward the degree or certificate. 


A student will be placed on academic probation if his/her cumulative GPA is less than 2.67 after having attempted nine (9) or more credits in courses that are eligible to count toward the degree or certificate.


A student will be subject to dismissal from the graduate program if:

  • His/her cumulative GPA is less than 2.00 after having attempted nine (9) or more credits in courses that are eligible to count toward the degree or certificate.;
  • His/her GPA is less than 3.00 after completion of one-half of the required number of credits in courses that are eligible to count toward the degree or certificate;
  • He/she earns three (3) course grades below B minus (B-) in courses that are eligible to count toward the degree or certificate.
  • Where a thesis/dissertation /project is required, a thesis/dissertation/project which is graded F shall be grounds for dismissal.
  • The student fails to meet any other conditions imposed as a part of the probation.


A student may appeal any action concerning academic probation and dismissal by petitioning the graduate committee within the department. However, if a student has a record of Academic dishonesty, his/her appeal request will NOT be supported by CIS department.


Academic Ethical Standards


All CIS graduate students are expected to maintain high academic ethical standard. Please check university catalog and student handbook for detailed description on this matter.  Check the academic ethical standards and the consequences of violation specified in each course’s syllabus, and follow the standards to avoid getting into trouble. CIS department does maintain a record of all offenses of academic ethical standards. The penalty of a second-time academic dishonest conduct by the same student is a grade of F in the course in which the 2nd offense took place.

For any student who has a record of academic dishonesty, his/her request for re-admission will NOT be supported by CIS department.


Satisfactory Academic Progress

Satisfactory progress is indicated by students who

  1. Maintain a grade point average above 3.0 on a 4.0 scale as computed from their program of study;
  2. Have received no more than two grades below "B"; and
  3. Are registered for normal course loads or project/thesis/dissertation continuation.


Unsatisfactory academic progress results from failure to meet the above requirements and/or failure to complete program requirements at the appropriate point in the program.  Such requirements are: (1) filing a project or thesis proposal; (2) scheduling the project or thesis presentation; (3) producing final copies of the thesis or dissertation.  Students who do not maintain satisfactory progress in their degree program risk having their appointments reduced or being dismissed from the program.


Please note that course credits have a longevity of 6 years from the time a course is completed.  Only graduate courses in which the student receives a grade of C or better, or 400-level courses in which the student receives a grade of B or better, may be applied towards fulfilling degree requirements.  All grades are averaged into the student's record.  Required courses in which a student received a grade of C minus or less must be repeated in order for the student to graduate.


Course Selections, Registration and Continuation


Course from other department  (maximum of three credits) Course from other departments cannot be counted toward CIS MS degree unless they are pre-approved under the following conditions:

  • The course content and quality must be suitable for the CIS curriculum, and
  • The course is requested by the student’s MS Project/Thesis advisor, or the CIS department does not offer technical electives that the student has not previously taken.


400-level technical elective course (maximum of three credits)

No more than one 400 level technical elective course is allowed to be counted toward MS degree only when:

  • Such course (or courses with similar coverage) has not been taken by this student previously.
  • The graduate-level (500 and above) course on the same topic has not been taken yet.
  • The grade earned in that course must be B (not B minus) or better in order to be used towards a graduate degree


Process to earn MS credits for 400-level technical elective course

  • Get approval before taking the course by emailing the following information to the graduate program director: student name, ID, the course number and title, a statement of the fulfillment of the above conditions with attachment of your undergraduate and graduate transcripts.
  • Save the approval email as a record and register for this course. Notice that at this times the credits for this course is not counted towards MS program in COIN.
  • After earning a B or better grade, request the implementation of the credits by sending the approval email to the graduate program director with your name, ID, course number, title, the semester this course was taken and the grade for this course shown in your current transcript (attached). The graduate program director will require the implementation of the credits in your MS program.


Internship course (EGR 500) (maximum of three credits)

  • EGR 500 is a 3-credit course with pass/fail grade, it is counted into program credits but not counted in the GPA. It replaces one 400 level technical elective.
  • The minimum requirement for an internship job to qualify earn EGR 500 credits are:
    • Demand skills at least on the level of junior or senior CS students.
    • Should be on-site to gain industry experience.
    • Should be paid at reasonable rate.
  • In order to register for EGR 500 course, a student needs to:
    • Obtain a support letter describing work responsibility to prove the merit of the internship from the industry sponsor.
    • Prepare a proposal that describes the project objective and outcome.
    • Fill EGR 500 Internship Registration Form.
    • Find one faculty sponsor and get approval.
    • Submit the form and the proposal to CIS department office.
  • In order to complete EGR500 course, the student needs to submit a report to the faculty sponsor no later than 1 month after the course period ends, and make a presentation to graduate committee.
  • Note: If you need Curricular Practical Training (CPT) work permission for an internship job, you are required to register EGR500 course. CPT information is available from International Student & Scholar Center website.


Online course (maximum of six credits)


Students in the CIS on-site MS program may take no more than two UMass Dartmouth CIS graduate-level (500 and above) online courses in their entire MS program duration, with additional provisions:

  • In a particular semester, a student cannot select to take an online version of a course when the same course is offered on-site.
  • Students of the on-site program taking an online course must take all exams for this course on-site in the classroom and at the time set by the instructor.
  • International students enrolled in the on-site are subject to additional regulations from the Department of Homeland Security.

Course Combination Policy 


Students in CIS on-site MS program must complete a minimum of 21 credits using CIS graduate courses (including MS Project) offered on campus. With appropriate prior approval (the approval process is specified in a separate document WWW Guide for CIS Graduate Students), the remaining credits (maximum of 9 credits) can be completed by the following:

  • Computer science undergraduate technical elective course(s) not taken as part of student’s undergraduate degree (maximum of 3 credits, grade B or better)
  • EGR 500 Graduate Internship (maximum of 3 credits)
  • Computer science graduate online course(s) offered by the CIS Department (maximum of 6 credits, grade C or better)
  • Graduate course(s) taken in another department at UMD (maximum of 3 credits, grade C or better)
  • Transfer of a graduate course(s) from another accredited institution of higher learning (maximum of 6 credits, grade B- or better)

Registration for courses Graduate students (except the 1st semester for new students) need to register courses for the next semester within the current registration period, the bill will arrive when the next semester begins.  Any one who fails to do so may receive letter of disenrollment and needs to pay a certain amount of fee for readmission. MS project needs to be registered during the regular registration period too; project continuation can wait until the semester begins.


MS project continuation To get the first continuation of MS project, the student needs the approval of the faculty adviser and to submit a support letter to state the reason for continuation request.  The second continuation is not allowed except in some extremely difficult situations such as accident or serious family matters (need documents of proof). In such exceptions, approvals from all levels are required.


  • Additional Degree Requirement All full-time students must pass the course CIS 599 graduate seminars for two semesters. In order to pass the course, at least 80% attendance rate is required. In addition, a one-page report, which describes at least two seminars attended, must be submitted by the end of each academic semester.
  • Thesis/Project presentations are not scheduled between July 1 and Aug. 20 and Dec. 22 and Jan. 20.
  • Thesis defense should be scheduled for 1 hour including 50 minutes presentation time and 10 minutes for questions and answering (Q&A). Master's project presentation should be scheduled for 25-30 minutes.
  • Thesis and project presentations should be scheduled in the CIS 599 seminar time frame when possible.
  • Thesis presentation needs to be publicly announced via UMD Announce (and possibly other targeted lists) a minimum of two weeks in advance of the defense date. An email notice of title, abstract, faculty supervisor and committee member names should be sent to the CIS office ( with copied to the faculty supervisor) with a minimum of three (3) weeks for development and posting of the announcement prior to a thesis presentations.
  • Project presentation does NOT need go to UMD Announcement. The project adviser will coordinate with other faculty members and the CIS 599 coordinator to schedule the presentation. The readers are not required to attend the presentation.


Thesis/Project Presentation Schedule 


Continuous Registration Requirements

To maintain status as an MS degree candidate, it is necessary to be enrolled continuously (exclusive of summers) or receive an approved Leave of Absence (see below).  If you continue to work on a thesis or project after completing formal course requirements, you must remain in "Continuation" enrollment status for every semester until the thesis/project/dissertation is completed, including the semester in which final approvals are given.  You must register for Thesis/Project Continuation at the Registrar's office and pay a nominal fee in lieu of tuition and regular fees for each semester you are in that status.  If you must interrupt progress towards your degree, you need to seek a formal Leave of Absence.


Interruption or Termination of Studies

A request for a leave of absence (LOA) for one semester or one year may be made in cases when serious illness or injury or other major event prevents the student from participating in his/her program of study for an extended period of time.  A Leave of Absence from graduate studies can be requested by submitting a completed form (available from the Office of Graduate Studies) to the CIS Graduate Program Director.  The form should include the reason for the request and the anticipated date for returning.  A Leave of Absence involves no fees and does not require a re-admission procedure provided that the student returns by the anticipated date or makes other arrangements.  A Leave of Absence differs from Graduate Program Continuation in that the latter involves fees and implies that the student is still participating in the program.  Students who fail to return from LOA after one year are dismissed from the program and must reapply to continue in their program of study.


Withdrawal from the University permanently removes the student from the program and is therefore a serious procedure.  Any student considering withdrawal should consult with their advisor.  If the student subsequently decides to withdraw from the University, s/he should do so formally through the normal University procedure.  Withdrawing students who hold University appointments should also submit a letter of resignation to the CIS Graduate Program Director.  Students who do not register for any courses or continuing studies, or do not request a Leave of Absence, will be automatically withdrawn from the University.


Students who have withdrawn from the University and wish to return must apply for re-admission.  Application for re-admission is made by written request to the Office of Graduate Studies.  Re-admission is granted subject to the approval of the CIS Graduate Committee, the CIS Department Chairperson, and the Dean of the College of Engineering.