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Prospective Ph.D. Students

An applicant may be admitted with a Bachelor’s degree or with an M.S. degree in computer science or a related field. If the applicant enters without the M.S., or with an M.S. in a field that does not adequately prepare the student for the Ph.D. qualifier exam, the applicant will earn an M.S. in computer science before proceeding to the “PhD portion” of the program.

Applications are accepted for both Spring and Fall semesters. The applicant should attend to the fact that requirements are imposed by both the Graduate Division and the ICS Department.

Graduate Division Requirements

It is important for you to carefully read the information on the Graduate Division Admissions page as well as the information on this page. You may also need to refer to additional information for international applicants. (For academic policies, degree requirements, etc. see the Graduate Division Site.)

Graduate Division requires that international applicants whose native language is not English take either the TOEFL or the IELTS. More information on the requirements is available on the English Proficiency page of the Graduate Division website.

ICS Requirements

Applicants with Bachelor’s degrees must satisfy the admission requirements of the ICS master’s program. Please read the Prospective MS Students page first.

The GRE General Test is not required (due to the logistical and financial challenges they pose to some students, and disagreement concerning their predictive value) but you may send scores if you wish. We do not have a cutoff and generally are influenced only by extreme scores. If you send them, GRE scores should be sent to us directly from ETS (Institution code is: 4867; Department code is: 0402).

Applications must include a statement of purpose. In this statement, describe your motivations for entering the program, including research and teaching interests. A Ph.D. is a fundamentally different kind of endeavor than the coursework-oriented education applicants may be familiar with, so we take an applicant’s ability to articulate your objectives seriously. The statement should be about the future, not the past. We do not need to hear that you have been interested in computers ever since you were a child, that you overcame many obstacles, etc. Rather, we want to hear about your career objectives, and what you hope to accomplish in our program to achieve these objectives.

Applicants should arrange for three letters of reference addressing potential for graduate coursework, research and teaching. These letters are very important and strong letters go a long way in making your application stronger. The Graduate Division application site provides a way to specify who may upload confidential letters of reference directly to that site: do not have them sent to ICS.


Submit your application online to the Graduate Division application website.

The supplemental documents, which must be uploaded as part of your Graduate Division application, consist of the following items:

  • Statement of Objectives/Purpose (optional for MS applicants; of critical importance for Ph.D. applicants). This document explains why you wish to pursue a graduate degree, as described above.
  • Three letters of reference. You should enter the names and e-mail addresses of reference letter writers via the Graduate Division’s Supplemental Documents upload site. Your letter writers will submit their confidential letters directly to the Graduate Division.
  • ICS Financial Aid Application (optional). If you wish to be considered for a teaching assistantship, research assistantship, or tuition waver, complete the ICS Financial Aid Application and upload it as a supplemental document.

All application materials will be forwarded to the ICS Department once the Graduate Division determines that your application is complete. It is your responsibility to communicate with Graduate Division to ensure they have all of the required materials. Until they do, we won’t see your application.

Note: ICS does not collect the application fee, and thus cannot waive it. You may request a waiver from Graduate Division at, but they routinely deny such requests.

Deadlines (revised for Fall 2023 admissions)

  • Fall: January 15th.
  • Spring: September 1st.
  • Late Applications: Full consideration will be given to applications received by the deadline. Late applications are considered depending on availability of resources.


Questions about the application process can be answered by contacting Graduate Division and/or e-mailing the ICS Graduate Chair.