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credits per semester (CS - CU Boulder)

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I'm moving from Australia to Boulder with my family to start CS masters in the Fall semester.

I had been planning to enroll in 5 courses +1 seminar (overload permission granted), but I've been told by a graduate advisor that this is unusual and that most grad students take 6-9 per semester.

Being a 30 credit degree (24+thesis) I had hoped to get this done in two semesters.

Was this wishful thinking? I can accept maybe pushing it out to 3 semesters but any longer than that makes the cost prohibitive...

I hadn't planned on doing any RA/TA but maybe I'm misinformed about expectations at grad school in the US?

Also note, I've been working for about 8 years... I have decent time-management, so I had felt pretty confident about 15 credits per semester.

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With a 50% employment position through at least some American universities 6 credits a semester is full time. 9 is full time with no employment.

6 courses (5+1 seminar) is 18 credits? I would think that kind of workload would result in Cs and Ds, which will probably result in being kicked out of the program.


If you can do it, more power to you. I'm sure someone in a CS Masters program can chime in on the feasability of 18 credits in one semester.


Personally, I'm enrolling in 3 field related courses and a language course and I'm weary that the language course will pile on too much work. I am someone who bounced between 15 and 19 semester credits throughout the latter part of my undergrad with a 4.0.


Remember that the quality of work expectations will be significantly higher in your graduate courses when compared to your undergrad.


Also, congrats on your admission, enjoy your program and enjoy being in Boulder/Denver. It is a great place.

Edited by twentysix
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I am in the same field as you. In my undergrad it was not at all problematic to take more than twice the normal course load and maintain A's in all of it, but that was a fairly mediocre university and course.


For masters I traded up to a world top 5 university where we are supposed to take 5 courses (all theoretical CS, btw). The load of each course is about 15 hours per week for one term. Therefore, most of us take 3 courses for two terms. Although some people have taken 4 in one term, that's rare and definitely not recommended (my advisor felt very strong about that). After doing the work I can definitely relate to that. Both terms I started with 4 (or more) courses to see which ones I liked best, but I dropped the extra ones after a couple of weeks.


Eventually I got straight A's in all of my courses, which is what I needed to stay on for a PhD with full funding and no TA/RA-duties. I am quite sure my work would not have been of the same standard if I had taken up more than 3 courses per term. If you can manage the load, sure, go for it. Programs are not the same, people are not the same. Just be prepared to drop some of the courses if it comes to that (i.e. plan ahead).

Edited by Marst
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