Menu Close

FAQs for Prospective Computer Science Graduate Students

1. To which program should I apply?

You have the choice of whether you want to specify the M.S. degree or the Ph.D. degree as your objective. If there is a reasonable chance you might go on to the Ph.D., then apply to that program. If needed, you will be able to meet some of the Ph.D. exam requirements while you work on your M.S. However, you should be aware that Ph.D. admissions requirements are more stringent: you must show potential for independent scholarly research as reflected in your vita, your statement of purpose, and your letters of reference. If you apply to the Ph.D. program but we think that the M.S. program will be more suitable, we will offer admission on that basis.

2. How should I apply?

  1. You apply online starting at the application section of the Graduate Division website.
  2. As part of the Graduate Division online application, you will specify the names and email addresses of people who will write letters of recommendation for you (two for Masters degree applicants; three for Ph.D. applicants). Your letter writers will be contacted by Graduate Division and will submit their letters electronically.
  3. Supplementary documents to be submitted to the Graduate Division website:
    • Statement of Objectives/Purpose explaining why you want to go to graduate school.

3. Do I need to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) before applying to your program?

The GRE General Test is suggested but not required. GRE scores should be sent to us directly from ETS (Institution code is: 4867; Department code is: 0402).

4. I am an International applicant. Do I need to take the TOEFL or the IELTS?

Likely. Graduate Division requires that international applicants whose native language is not English take either the TOEFL or the IELTS. Please refer to the English Proficiency page of the Graduate Division website for more information on the requirements. In addition, our department imposes the following requirement for TOEFL scores: 580/237/92 or above for the M.S. program and 600/250/100 or above for the Ph.D. program (scores are listed as Paper-based Test / Computer-based Test / Internet-based Test). Note that in all cases scores must be official scores.

5. Is there any GPA requirement to be admitted in the Graduate Program?

Yes. The UH Graduate Division imposes the following requirement (see their Admission Standards Page): “To be eligible, an applicant must hold or expect to hold prior to matriculation a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university, or an equivalent degree from a recognized non-U.S. institution of higher education. At minimum, the applicant needs to demonstrate above average academic performance (B average, usually a 3.0 on a 1.0-4.0 scale) for undergraduate course work and for any post-baccalaureate or graduate course work.” Our department abides by this standard.

6. I am already a UH graduate student. Do I need to go through the regular admission process like everyone else?

Yes. You must submit a complete application. Our admission process and requirements for current UH graduate students is identical to that for other students.

7. I would like to apply to the CS graduate M.S. program, but I have no computer programming background. Is that OK?

Our graduate program requires that you have completed the equivalent of ICS 111, 211, and 311 before you application can be processed. With only this background, you will have extensive undergraduate “deficiencies” to make up. For someone without a programming background, it typically takes about 2 years of coursework to make up undergraduate deficiencies, then 2 more years to finish the graduate requirements. Our program is really oriented toward those with undergraduate degrees in computer science or extensive work experience who desire advanced training.

  • Note that there are other educational avenues in high technology that you could investigate. If you are interested in more of a business/management orientation to software development, you may want to investigate the programs at the UH Shidler College of Business. If you are interested in an interdisciplinary degree, see the Communication and Information Science Ph.D. Program. If you are interested in more short-term training, you could investigate some of the certificate programs offered by local private organizations. Neither of these avenues, however, will provide the comprehensive, in-depth exposure to computer science and software development that is provided by our program.
  • Finally, if you do not have prior experience in computer programming, we suggest that you start by taking an introductory programming course, such as ICS 111, which is offered by the University’s Community Colleges as well as our department. Not everyone enjoys or has the patience for computer programming, and you should definitely get your feet wet before making any long term plans

8. I have already taken some computer science courses from another university. Can I transfer them?

It depends upon a number of factors, including what you mean by “transfer”. If you’ve taken undergraduate level computer science courses elsewhere, then those courses can potentially be used to waive undergraduate deficiencies, but do not count toward the 30 credits needed for your M.S. degree. If you’ve taken some graduate level computer science courses from another University and applied those credits to a degree from that University, then they cannot be counted toward your degree at UH. If you’ve taken some graduate level computer science courses from another University, and they did not count toward a degree, and they are equivalent in content to our courses, then you can potentially apply up to 12 credits toward your UH M.S. degree. However, this is subject to the approval of the Graduate Chair. Please attach to your application all the documentation about any courses in question. (Syllabi of the courses you took – and links to them if they are online – may be very useful to help us compare your courses to ours.)

9. I’m not sure whether I fulfill your admission requirements. Can you review my background and tell me whether I qualify?

No. We cannot review your background before you apply.

10. I missed the deadline for Fall (or Spring, or Summer) admission. Can I still apply?

We will give full consideration to applications received by:
Fall Admissions: January 15
Spring Admissions: September 1
We will also consider, on a space available basis, applications for the Fall Semester submitted by February 1st.
Only under exceptional circumstances we may accept applications after these deadlines.

11. When do I hear back about acceptance in the program?

Offers are typically sent back 6-8 weeks after the application deadline. Offers may be conditional or not depending on the content of your application.

12. Are letters of recommendation required?

Three letters are required for the Ph.D. program and two letters are required for the M.S. program. Letters of recommendation are uploaded directly to the Graduate Division website by the letter writers. You will be given the opportunity to provide names and contact information of letter writers as part of the online application process.

13. How do I apply for a Teaching or Research Assistantship?

Full-time graduate students often have some support as either a teaching assistant (TA) or research assistant (RA). Read the Graduate Assistantships and Achievement Scholarships page for details. For incoming students, offers for these positions are made with admissions letters.

14. Where is the UH website for financial aid?

It’s at

15. I need a form from Graduate Division. Where do I get it?

See the Graduate Division forms. This page includes links to the Thesis (Plan A) forms, the application form, the Leave of Absence Request form, and so forth.

16. How can I learn more about your programs and graduate studies at University of Hawaii in general?

Here are some pointers to further information:

17. What about tuition costs?

Current tuition costs at UH Manoa are posted at:

18. I read this FAQ, your Graduate Program pages, and the University’s Graduate Division pages, but I still have a question that isn’t answered anywhere: Can you tell me …?

Please write to with the subject line:
Question(s) not answered on ICS grad web site.
We will try to answer the question and append the answer to this FAQ.