CS Current Students FAQ

Table of Contents


Who are the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and the Coordinator of Graduate Studies (CGS), and what are their responsibilities?

Director of Graduate Studies (DGS): Ramani Duraiswami, Professor, Associate Chair (for Graduate Studies), is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the graduate program

Assistant Director of Graduate Education: Tom Hurst. Tom assists with all aspects of the CS graduate program for current and prospective students

Coordinator of Graduate Studies (CGS): Migo Gui, Graduate Coordinator, handles day-to-day administrative tasks, student queries, and supports the DGS and Assistant Director 

Who should I contact for signing forms related to Travel Grants?

To submit your application, please fill out this form, detailing your request, and upload a combined PDF. This PDF should include a copy of your accepted paper and a statement of support from your faculty advisor (this can be in the form of an email).

Additionally, students are also encouraged to apply for funds for conference registration fees and matching travel funds through the Graduate School’s travel grants.

To process applications for these Graduate School grants, the required forms must be signed by the CS Business Office. Forms for these grants should be forwarded to reimbursements [-at-] cs [dot] umd [dot] edu for review and signature by the CS Business Office.

What is the process for getting reimbursed for a laptop purchase?

To get reimbursed for a laptop purchase, complete this form and attach the purchase receipt. Email these documents to reimbursements [-at-] umd [dot] edu for processing.

Graduation and Degree Completion

What steps should I take if I have an NG (No Grade) on my transcript?

If you encounter an NG grade on your transcript, particularly for summer courses, you should contact the course instructor for rectification. If the deadline for instructors to submit grades has passed or if this NG grade impacts your graduation requirements, notify the CS Graduate Office for further guidance.

If I want to switch from a thesis track to a non-thesis track, what is the process?

To switch from thesis to non-thesis, complete and submit the “Petition for Waiver of Regulation” form via CS Graduate Form Submissions. Note that CMSC799 credits can be converted to CMSC798 on an equal credit basis, with a cap of 3 credits for 798. You'll need to submit a Supplemental Grade Report for EACH converted course.

  1. Petition for Waiver of Regulation: Choose “Other: changing CMSC799 to 798” and include your justification along with the sample below:
    • [Justification]
    • Please change the following research courses for [Your Name] (9-digit UID):
    • [Term], change CMS799, [Your advisor’s Section Number], [Number of] credits to CMSC798, [New Section Number], [Number of] credits.
  2. Afterward, submit separate Supplemental Grade Reports for EACH of your converted CMSC798 to ensure a grade is added to your newly converted courses. You only need to fill out the “Student Data” section. The Graduate Office will obtain the grade and signature from your advisor & the chair.

Please note, that it is crucial to understand that for CMSC798, 6 units are allocated per credit, which is significantly different from CMSC799, where 1 credit equates to 12 units. This distinction is particularly important when calculating full-time status, especially for students holding Graduate Assistantship positions, those on loans, or international students. You are responsible for ensuring that your enrollment status meets the full-time requirements applicable to your situation.

What steps should I take if I want to pursue a Master's degree along the way? 

Effective Spring 2024, Ph.D. students who intend to obtain a concurrent MS (non-thesis) degree can count up to 6 credits from a combination of 798 and 898 courses towards their MS requirements. For more details on the requirements and steps, please refer to the MS graduation checklist. Rest assured, applying for MS graduation will not impact your Ph.D. enrollment status.

Academic Requirements and Course Registration

What is the difference between units and credits?

The Graduate School uses a unit system in making calculations to determine full-time or part-time student status. Please note that graduate units are different from credit hours. The number of graduate units per credit hour is calculated in the following manner:


Assistantship Graduate Unit
Full-Time Graduate Assistantship (TA or RA) 24 Units
Half TA 12 Units

Doctoral Dissertation Research: 899 carries 18 units per credit hour. All doctoral candidates must pay candidacy tuition for which they will be registered for six (6) credit hours of 899; this defines all currently registered doctoral candidates as full-time.

Can I register for courses outside our department? What's the procedure?

If you're looking to enroll in a non-CS course to satisfy the "Elective" graduate course requirement, please complete this form and provide the necessary details.

For MS/Ph.D. Qualifying Course Registration:

To have an external course evaluated for its relevance as a qualifying course within the MS/Ph.D. program, please provide the necessary details to the Grad Office using this form:

  • Specific course details, including the syllabus and the instructor’s name
  • Identifies the area in which you want the course to count
  • A justification explaining the relevance and importance of this course to your studies
  • Upload any relevant supporting documents

How do I register for 400-level CS courses and research courses?

Please submit your requests for permission to enroll in 400-level courses, as well as courses 798, 799, or 898, using our Course Registration Permission form.

Please refer to Faculty Sections Numbers. Please submit your requests for permission to enroll in 400-level courses, as well as courses 798, 799, or 898, using our Course Registration Permission form.

What should I do if I encounter an issue like my admission expiring while trying to register for classes?

The Graduate School posted this block as you haven’t submitted the required documents listed on your offer letter by the end of the first semester. In most cases, the required documents will be your final official transcripts.  For the expedited submission of official transcripts, students should bring official/sealed envelopes in person to the Graduate front desk, which is located in  2123 Lee Building, 7809 Regents Drive, College Park, MD 20742.

Why can't I register for 899 credits? Is it possible to register for only 3 credits of 899?

Registration for 899 credits is handled by the Office of the Registrar. Post-candidacy students are registered for 6 credits of 899 each Spring and Fall semester (with no variation in credit number) at least two weeks in advance unless there are blocks on your account (like immunization or financial blocks). 

  • Tuition for CMSC899 is a flat rate of $1,350.00 (in-state) or $2,626.00 (out-of-state) for 6 credits. But if any 898 or below graduate level courses are taken simultaneously, those credits will be charged at the standard Graduate level Tuition and Fees scale ($828.00 per credit for residents and $1,805.00 for non-residents). For detailed information, refer to this link

For summer terms, you'll need to register for 899 yourself if required for graduation or to maintain student status. 

  • Be mindful of summer tuition fees for 899. If you have a summer RA position, tuition remission covers 8 credits; without a payroll position, you may be responsible for paying the full tuition at the out-of-state rate, depending on your residency classification. More details on tuition and fees can be found here.

CMSC Graduate Assistantships are typically based on 9.5-month appointments, meaning they become inactive over summer unless you receive specific, approved funding for a separate summer appointment.

Can I drop a course or change the grading method after the Schedule Adjustment Period?

If you need to adjust your schedule after the Schedule Adjustment Period, please note that penalties may apply, subject to the discretion of the Graduate Office. Requests for schedule changes can be submitted to the CS Graduate Office for consideration. 

What steps should I take if I'm considering a gap semester or year?

If you're a Master's or pre-candidacy Doctoral student considering a gap semester or year, you may request a waiver of continuous registration and its associated tuition. This request should be filed 30 days before the beginning of the term for which the waiver is sought.

Doctoral Candidates are not eligible for Waivers of Continuous Registration. Each doctoral Candidate must maintain continuous registration in 899 (Doctoral Dissertation Research) until the degree is awarded. Waivers of Registration may be granted only under the University's policy for Leave of Absence for Graduate Students for Childbearing, Adoption, Illness or Dependent Care (see Waivers of Continuous Registration for Doctoral Candidates).

What steps should I follow if I need to apply for a Leave of absence (LOA)?

To request a leave of absence, the student must complete the Request for Leave of Absence Form via the form submissions before the semester begins.

If you have concerns about how a leave of absence may affect health insurance, academic progress, or visa status, please see more information on this Leave of Absence document.  

If the student submitted this request after the adjustment period and is registered for any classes, they will need to submit the following to the registrar:

  • Attendance verification from their professors indicated the student did not attend courses and/or their last date of attendance
  • Withdrawal Form
  • Attached approved leave of absence petition 
  • Letter of explanation documenting the delay and the reason for the request

Important for International students, in most cases, taking a  semester off will mean the loss of your F-1/J-1 status and will require a new immigration document when you are ready to return. Students considering a leave should schedule an appointment with an ISSS advisor to discuss your situation.  

What do I need to do if I want to withdraw from the program?

Students may request a withdrawal from all classes at any time between the first and the last day of classes for the semester. Students must submit a written notice of withdrawal to the Office of the Registrar no later than the last day of classes.

The effective date of the withdrawal, for purposes of any refund, is the date that the written withdrawal notice is received by the Office of the Registrar. For more information on academic deadlines and refund schedules, please see Academic Deadlines.

To withdraw from all courses, students must complete the Degree-Seeking Graduate Student Withdrawal Form.

Send the completed form to registrar-graduate [-at-] umd [dot] edu and keep cmsc-gradoffice [-at-] cs [dot] umd [dot] edu copied.

How do I request parental leave?

Full-time graduate students who wish to request Parental Accommodation for up to six (6) weeks should complete and submit this form at least eight (8) weeks prior to the anticipated childbirth or adoption. 

BS/MS and MS Students

As a BS/MS student, what should I do if my double-counted credits aren't correctly reflected in my audit report?

If your double-counted courses are not reflected, it's because an inclusion Form needs to be submitted. While the combined form you previously completed permits credits to be double-counted, it does not automatically apply these credits to your master’s degree.

To include these credits, please submit the Inclusion Form via the CS Graduate Form Submissions during your second semester or the term you plan to graduate.  


  • You must include the same courses that were approved on your combined form, irrespective of the grades received. Failing to do so may result in the loss of your double-counted credits.
  • You must successfully complete your first semester as a graduate student before this inclusion can be processed on your record.

What should I do if I am interested in continuing my studies into a PhD program after completing my MS?

You will need to apply through the standard online application system. Please refer to 5.2 Continuation to Ph.D. Program in the Policy Manual.

Can credits that were double-counted in my BS/MS program be transferred to my PhD program?

Credits double-counted in the BS/MS program can be transferred to a Ph.D. program, except for 400-level courses. Ensure these courses meet the pre-candidacy requirements of the Ph.D. program. Detailed information can be found in section 2.3, 'Ph.D. Pre-Candidacy Requirements'.

PhD Students

What if I want to register for UMD courses from other departments as qualifying courses?

If you're interested in registering for courses from other departments at UMD as qualifying courses, they must undergo a review process. Please access the Course Permission form and choose the option "Permission to register for non-CS courses as a qualifying course for a future term." Be sure to submit all the required documents along with your application.

It's important to start this process well before the semester in which you intend to register for the course. Keep in mind that the review process can be lengthy, so starting early will help ensure you receive the outcome in time for registration.

What if my course waiver application gets denied?

You may submit # the number of rejected requests with a different course. You can only have 3 approved waivers.

What would happen if all 3 of my course waivers were approved? How does it affect my pre-candidacy requirements?

The waiver process does not affect the requirement to achieve four A’s in UMD-taken courses. Approved waivers are only applicable for meeting the requirement of obtaining two 'B' grades in the qualifying courses or elective courses.

If the waivers cover three different areas, it's ideal. However, if they only cover two areas or the same area, they can be counted towards fulfilling the elective course requirement.

Requirement 3 Approved Qualifying Courses (3 Different Areas) 3 Approved Qualifying Courses (2 Different Areas) 3 Approved Qualifying Courses (Same Area)
 #courses completed towards requirement
Must complete at least six, 600-800 level Ph.D. qualifying courses 3 3 3
Must receive at least four A's in Qualifying Courses 0 0 0
2 B's in qualifying courses 2 2 2
Ph.D. qualifying courses must cover at least four areas 3 2 1
Two Elective courses   1 2

Is there a procedure for remote participation in preliminary exams?

If you require remote participation for your examination, please inform the CS Graduate Office and ensure that your advisor is included in the correspondence. When completing the exam scheduling form, make sure to specify that the examination will be conducted remotely.

What is the process for including an off-campus scientist on my advisory committee?

For guidelines on including external scientists in your advisory committee, consult section 2.5, 'Candidacy and Dissertation Defense' in our policy manual. The process typically spans three business weeks, including faculty voting and Graduate School review. Notify the Grad Office well in advance for timely processing.

What is the requirement of the committee composition?

The committee must include a minimum of two CS faculty members for both a 3-member and a 4-member committee, and three CS faculty for a 5-member committee. One of the CS faculty members must serve as a departmental representative, coming from a field different from that of the committee chair. External members or non-CS faculty are permitted, as long as these CS representation percentages are upheld.

How do I announce my Ph.D. preliminary exam or defense, and what steps are needed to advance to candidacy?

Please refer to our policy manual, 2.4. Starting in Spring 2024, students are required to distribute their dissertation proposal to the committee members and the Graduate Office two weeks prior to their exam.

Once your dissertation proposal is received, instructions and the necessary paperwork for advancing to candidacy will be sent to you and your committee members.

Do I need to keep registering for 899 research credits even after completing the required 12 credits?

Yes, you will be registered for each Spring and Fall semester until your degree is awarded.

Can I schedule my defense in the semester immediately after my preliminary exam?

According to "Doctor of Philosophy Degree Policies", the Graduate School requires that every student seeking the Ph.D. satisfactorily complete a minimum of 12 semester hours of doctoral dissertation research credits.

In exceptional cases, in which a student can defend the dissertation before completing 12 credits of 899, then the student has to submit the petition to the Graduate School requesting they consider using a combined total of 12 credits of 898 and 899. Be aware that this process could potentially lead to a delay in your graduation. 

Please plan your preliminary exam at least two semesters away from your intended graduation. You can plan your graduation during the second semester of being registered for CMSC899.

International Students

How many hours can I work per semester?

Your total work hours, including TA/RA duties, should not exceed 20 hours per week, as students are permitted to work 20 hours while school is in session. However, it's important to consult with an ISSS advisor, as there are strict regulations regarding off-campus employment for students on visas.

More information can be found at: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) | Maryland Global

Maintaining Status

GRADUATE students must be enrolled in at least 48 units each Fall and Spring semester.

  • 20-hour assistantships are equivalent to 24 units;
  • 10-hour assistantships are equivalent to 12 units

For inquiries related to immigration and visa matters, the Graduate Office highly recommends consulting with the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS). Connect With ISSS.