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Master's Requirements

Symbolic Systems Masters Program Requirements

[Updated September 25, 2013 - added CS 224W as an approved course for area 2c]

[binding on students who enter the program in 2011-2012; students who matriculated prior to that may fulfill either these or the old requirements]

The M.S. degree in Symbolic Systems is designed to be completed in the equivalent of one academic year by coterminal students or returning students who already have a B.S. degree in Symbolic Systems, and in two years or less (depending on a student's level of preparation) by other students. Admission is competitive, providing a limited number of students with the opportunity to pursue course and project work, in consultation with a faculty advisor who is affiliated with the Symbolic Systems Program. The faculty advisor may impose requirements beyond those described here.

Admission to the program as a coterminal student is subject to the policies and deadlines described in the "Undergraduate Degrees" section of the bulletin (see "Coterminal Bachelor's and Master's Degrees"). Applicants to the M.S. program are reviewed each winter. Information on exact deadlines, required procedures for applying, and more details on degree requirements are available from the Symbolic Systems Program's Student Services Coordinator in the Linguistics Department office (460-127E) and on the program's website. Before applying, please review the information for applying to the Symbolic Systems M.S. Program.

A candidate for the M.S. degree in Symbolic Systems must complete a program of 45 units. At least 36 of these must be graded units, passed with an average grade of 3.0 (B) or better, and any course taken as part of the 45 unit program must be taken for a letter grade unless the course is offered S/NC only. Furthermore, none of the 45 units to be counted toward the M.S. degree may include units counted toward an undergraduate degree at Stanford or elsewhere. Course requirements are waived only if evidence is provided that similar or more advanced courses have been taken, either at Stanford or another institution. Courses that are waived rather than taken may not be counted toward the M.S. degree.

Each master's student in Symbolic Systems must meet the following requirements.

  1. Submission to the Symbolic Systems Program office and approval of the following pre-project research documents:
    1. a Project Area Statement, endorsed with a commitment from a student's prospective project advisor no later than May 1 of the academic year prior to the expected graduation year
    2. a Qualifying Research Paper no later than the end of the Summer Quarter prior to the expected graduation year.
  2. Completion of a coherent plan of study, to be approved by the Graduate Studies Director in consultation with the student's advisor and designed to support a student's project. An initial plan of study should be delineated on the Program Proposal Form prior to the end of the student's first quarter of study, as required by the University, to be modified at the time of the Project Area Statement with the approval of a student's advisor and the Graduate Studies Director. The final version of the Program Proposal, which should specify all the courses the student has taken and proposes as fulfillment of the unit requirements for the degree, is due by the end of Finals Week in the quarter prior to the student's expected graduation quarter (i.e. end of Winter Quarter for a student graduating in the Spring). The plan of study must include courses more advanced than the Symbolic Systems undergraduate core in four main skill areas: formal, empirical, computational, and philosophical; and in at least three of the following departments: Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy, and Psychology. "More advanced" courses in each of the skill areas are defined as follows:
    1. formal: a course in logic and computational theory beyond the level of Phil 151. The courses below have been approved. Other courses may be approved if appropriate.
      • PHIL 252. Computability and Logic (same as PHIL 152)
      • PHIL 254. Modal Logic (same as PHIL 154)
      • PHIL 350A. Model Theory
      • PHIL 352A. Set Theory (same as MATH 292A)
      • PHIL 355. Logic and Social Choice
      • CS 154. Introduction to Automata and Complexity Theory
      • CS 157. Logic and Automated Reasoning
      • CS 161. Design and Analysis of Algorithms
      • CS 364A. Algorithmic Game Theory
    2. empirical: a course drawing on experimental or observational data or methods, beyond the level of Psych 55, Ling 120, or Ling 130A. The courses below are examples of those that have been approved. Other courses may be approved if appropriate.
      • COMM 268. Experimental Research in Advanced User Interfaces (same as COMM 168, COMM 368, ME 468)
      • CS 224N. Natural Language Processing (same as LINGUIST 284)
      • CS 376. Research Topics in Human-Computer Interaction
      • LINGUIST 230B. Advanced Semantics and Pragmatics
      • LINGUIST 241. Language Acquisition II
      • LINGUIST274A. Linguistic Field Methods (discontinued)
      • NBIO 206. The Nervous System
      • NBIO 258. Information and Signaling Mechanisms in Neurons and Circuits
      • PSYCH 204. Computation and Cognition: The Probabilistic Approach
      • PSYCH 204A. Human Neuroimaging Methods
      • PSYCH 209. Models of Cognitive Processes
      • PSYCH209A. The Neual Basis of Cognition: A Parallel Distributed Processing Approach (discontinued)
      • PSYCH 252. Statistical Methods for Social and Behavioral Sciences
      • PSYCH 254. Lab in Experimental Methods
      • STATS 200. Introduction to Statistical Inference
    3. computational: a course involving programming beyond the level of CS 107; the courses below have been approved. Other courses may be approved if appropriate.
      • CS 108. Object-Oriented Systems Design
      • CS 110. Principles of Computer Systems
      • CS 124. From Languages to Information (same as LINGUIST 180, LINGUIST 280)
      • CS 142. Web Applications
      • CS 143. Compilers
      • CS 148. Introduction to Computer Graphics and Imaging
      • CS193R. Green Computing (discontinued)
      • CS193S. Scalable Web 2.0 Programming (discontinued)
      • CS 221. Artificial Intelligence: Principles and Techniques
      • CS 224N. Natural Language Processing (same LINGUIST 284)
      • CS 224W. Social and Information Network Analysis
      • CS 249A. Object-Oriented Programming from a Modeling and Simulation Perspective
    4. philosophical: a course in the area of Philosophy of Mind/Language/Science/Epistemology or Metaphysics at the 200 level or above, certified by the instructor as worthy of graduate credit. The courses below are examples of those that have been approved. Other courses may be approved if appropriate.
      • PHIL 264. Central Topics in the Philosophy of Science: Theory and Evidence (same as PHIL 164)
      • PHIL 267B. Philosophy, Biology, and Behavior (same as PHIL 167B)
      • PHIL 280. Metaphysics (same as PHIL 180)
      • PHIL 281. Philosophy of Language (same as PHIL 181)
      • PHIL 285B. Philosophy of Perception (same as PHIL 185B)
      • PHIL 286. Philosophy of Mind (same as PHIL 186)
      • PHIL 287. Philosophy of Action (same as PHIL 187)
      • PHIL 383B. What's an Inference?
      • CS 378. Phenomenological Foundations of Cognition, Language, and Computation
      • SYMSYS 206. Philosophy of Neuroscience (same as PHIL 167D, PHIL 267D)
  3. SYMSYS 291. Completion of three quarters of the Symbolic Systems Program M.S. Seminar
  4. Completion of a substantial project appropriate to the program plan, represented by the M.S. Thesis, the last of the the M.S research documents. The project normally takes three quarters, and work on the project may account for up to 15 units of a student's program. The thesis must be read and approved for the master's degree in Symbolic Systems by two qualified readers approved by the program, at least one of whom must be a member of the academic council. A copy of the thesis must be submitted (in both print and electronic forms) to the Associate Director of Symbolic Systems, with the print version including the signatures of each reader indicating approval of the thesis for the degree of Master of Science, no later than 5 pm on the last day of finals week in the quarter of a student's graduation.


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