Master of Science in CSE

Harvard's first degree program in Computational Science and Engineering is an intensive year of coursework leading to the Master of Science.

The one-year SM program, developed by IACS, will provide rigorous training in the mathematical and computing foundations of CSE. Complementing the foundational coursework will be independent research projects and elective courses focusing on the application of computation to one or more domains.

Applications for the Fall 2014 entering class are no longer being accepted.


Students are admitted to the program through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. GSAS requires online submission of applications for graduate study. In general, applicants must hold the BA or equivalent degree. GSAS considers students for admission to the fall term only. Additional rules and requirements, including SEAS program requirements and application deadline for graduate admission, are outlined at the GSAS website.

Answers to questions frequently asked by both external applicants and Harvard students interested in the master's program can be found in the FAQ.

IACS welcomes inquiries from all qualified prospective students interested in exploring the emerging field of computational science. For detailed information about studying CSE at Harvard, please contact Daniel Weinstock, Assistant Director of Graduate Studies in CSE.

Learning Outcomes

The design of the program is based on eight learning outcomes, developed through discussions with the IACS Advisory Board. Each student's plan of study should address these outcomes.

The outcomes answer the question: "What should a graduate of our CSE program be able to do?"

  1. Produce a computational solution to a problem that is reproducible and can be comprehended by others in the same field.
  2. Communicate across disciplines and collaborate in a team.
  3. Model complex systems appropriately with consideration of efficiency, cost and data availability.
  4. Use computation for advanced data analysis.
  5. Create or enable a breakthrough in a domain in science.
  6. Take advantage of parallel and distributed computing and other emerging modes of computation, both in algorithms and in code implementation.
  7. Evaluate and compare multiple computational approaches to a scientific challenge and choose the most appropriate and efficient one.
  8. Apply techniques and tools from software engineering to build robust, reliable, and maintainable software.

Degree Requirements

Requirements for the SM degree address these learning outcomes.  A total of eight courses are required.

Each student's plan of study for the SM degree will include:

  • at least three of the four core courses.
  • at least one Applied Math elective and one Computer Science elective chosen from the suggested electives list.
  • up to two “domain electives”—approved courses within a domain of study. If two domain electives are included in the plan of study at least one of them must be computation-intensive.
  • up to one semester-length independent research project.
  • up to one semester of the AC 297r capstone project course.
  • up to one semester of the AC 298r seminar course.
  • as a final requirement, an oral examination by a faculty committee. 

SM course requirements at a glance:

SM requirementsmin
2.Applied Math electives14
3.Computer Science electives14
4.Domain electives02
5.AC 297r capstone project course01
6.AC 298r seminar01
7.AC 299r independent study research course01