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MS | Coterm Program

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At Stanford students can pursue both a Bachelor's and Master's degrees together by participating in the Coterminal Master's program (Coterm). This program is extremely popular in Computer Science, with students from a variety of undergraduate majors pursuing an MS CS. Students typically apply to the Coterm program during their senior year, and take an additional 1-2 additional years to complete the Coterm program.

Coterm Program | Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where can students find the application and deadlines for the Coterm program? Students can find information about the CS Coterm application including requirements and deadlines on our admissions page.
  • How does enrollment work for Coterm students? Starting with the first Coterm quarter, Coterm students will have two careers in Axess: an undergraduate career and a graduate career. When enrolling in a course, students can either place it in their undergraduate career or graduate career. Each quarter, Coterm students can decide whether they want to enroll in undergrad courses, grad courses, or both. 
  • What if Coterm students don't want to take graduate classes immediately? Coterm students can choose the classes they will take each quarter. Coterm students can take undergrad courses, graduate courses, or both every quarter. 
  • If I already took a course as an undergrad, can I use it towards my graduate requirements instead? The answer depends on whether you want to use a Foundations, Breadth, Depth, or Elective course. Review the Master's requirements section for detailed information.
  • How does tuition work? Coterm students are organized into one of two tuition categories: the Undergraduate Billing Group or the Graduate Billing Group. This status only applies to how a student is charged tuition. It has no correlation with whether a Coterm student has completed their Bachelor's degree or which classes they're taking.
    • Coterms have undergrad status through the end of their 12th quarter, meaning they're charged undergraduate tuition for their first 12 quarters. Starting with their 13th quarter, Coterms reach Coterm-Grad status and are charged Graduate tuition. Again, this has no correlation with whether a Coterm student has conferred their Bachelor's degree or which classes they're taking. Students pursuing a dual BA+BS degree have undergrad status through the end of their 15th quarter, and Grad status beginning with their 16th quarter. In either case, Coterm students are welcome to take undergrad courses, graduate courses, or both. The University looks at the total number of units that you’re taking, and charges you tuition according to your status.
    • The tuition rate guide displays the Graduate Engineering rates.
  • Is it possible to move to Coterm-Grad status early, before the 5th year? Yes, its possible to move to Coterm-Grad status early if you 
    • confer your Bachelor's degree, or
    • request to move to Coterm-Grad status early. In either case, you need to have completed at least 180 undergrad units (for students pursuing a dual BA+BS degree, the minimum is 225 units). 
  • What are the benefits to moving into Coterm-Grad status early? To be hired as a Research Assistant or Course Assistant. The Department can only hire Graduate students as CAs/RAs, and this means that the Coterm student needs Graduate Billing status.
  • What else should students consider prior to moving to Coterm-Grad status early? Once you move to Graduate status, you cannot move back to undergraduate status. Moving to Grad status might affect your undergraduate financial aid package. Talk to the Financial Aid office to see how your aid package might be affected. You are still covered by the University’s guaranteed housing through the end of your fourth year.
  • Who is my MS CS Advisor? Coterm students who have a CS faculty advisor for their BS will continue with the same advisor through the completion of their CS MS degree program. If you would like a new advisor, you will need to get permission from the new advisor, and then send an email to Meredith Hutchin ( asking to change your MS advisor.
  • When should students turn in a program sheet? MS CS program sheets should be submitted by the end of the students first quarter in their Coterm program. In order to submit a program sheet, log in to with the respective CS ID and password, and click on the Dashboard link. 
  • How does a Leave of Absence work for Coterm students? As a Coterm student, you’ll need to take a LOA from both your Bachelor's and Master's programs. The CS Department will let you take a LOA for any reason. You can take a maximum of one year LOA from the CS Master's program.
  • Is it possible to take a Leave of Absence for two years? The CS Department will allow a maximum of one year LOA. After this year expires, the students MS CS program is discontinued. Once your program has been discontinued, you’ll need to apply for reinstatement to return to the MS CS program. Applying for Reinstatement involves paying a fee and filling out a form. The CS department is not obligated to accept you back into the program. In reality, if the student left Stanford in good academic standing, we want to see students come back.
  • When should I graduate? Coterm students are required to have one Overlap Quarter during which both of their Bachelor's and Master's programs are open. After the overlap quarter, students are free to confer their Bachelor's degree and continue to take graduate coursework, or they can wait and confer their BS and MS degrees at the same time. There are two things you can’t do: you can’t graduate before your overlap quarter; and you can’t graduate with your MS before you graduate with your BS degree.
  • I'm currently a coterm in (AA/ME/any other department). Can I apply to the CS coterm program, too? You can only pursue one Master's degree as a Coterm student. If you want to add an MS CS program to your existing Master's program, you will need to apply to the MS CS program through the external process (not the Coterm application). If you want to replace your existing Coterm program with the MS CS program, you can apply to the CS Coterm program. However, you will need to withdraw from your current Master's program once you are accepted. Connect with the CS Graduate admissions team for additional questions.

Coterm Program Resources