Graduate Admissions FAQ

Admission Requirements, Application Process and Eligibility

  • We do not accept external applications for the PhD or MS programs for the spring cycle. This is primarily because we do not convene an admissions committee during this period, making it challenging to evaluate candidates in comparison to the cohort.

  • We do admit BS/MS students for the Spring term. For more details on this, please refer to Combined BS/MS Program | Undergraduate Computer Science at UMD.

What is the earliest application cycle I can apply for?

Is a master’s degree required for a PhD?

  • No, you’re not required to have a master’s degree to apply for our PhD program. You can apply for our PhD program. 

What qualifications or background are necessary for acceptance into the program?

  • We generally do not "pre-screen" applications and leave it to the applicant to determine if their application would be competitive. A relevant background in Computer Science or related areas makes it reasonable to assume your application would be competitive, provided you have some research experience and/or interests that align with our faculty's expertise. Our graduate program receives thousands of applications each year. Typically, the students we admit have strong backgrounds in computer science or related fields. They often boast impressive academic transcripts, extensive research experience, significant project work, and many come from prestigious STEM programs
  • No, a master's degree is not a mandatory prerequisite for our PhD program in Computer Science. Students with a bachelor's degree can apply directly for the PhD program.

    Additionally, students who are admitted to the PhD program have an option to get an MS "along-the-way".

How is my application evaluated?

  • Your application is assessed by a review committee comprising faculty members from various research areas. Typically, your application is assigned to faculty members specializing in the research areas you’ve indicated in your application. Admission decisions are based both on the applicant’s credentials and on the faculty member’s availability to advise students, the openings in their research group and the alignment of your research interests with theirs.

How do I apply for an application fee waiver?

  • The department is not involved in the application process, which is managed by the graduate school. As such, we cannot grant application fee waivers. Students can access information regarding fee waivers and eligibility criteria at the Graduate School's official page: Fee Waiver Information and Eligibility | The Graduate School
    • FreeApp is designed to increase access to graduate education for students who possess qualities and experiences that enhance the diversity of the intellectual, cultural, and social environments at Big Ten Academic Alliance universities. Eligible students with financial burden that qualify for FreeApp should fill out the form in the link above and email to: FreeApp [-at-] umd [dot] edu with the subject line: FAFSA FreeApp Eligibility and provide documentation of need from your FAFSA in your email.

Can I submit my unofficial transcript during the application process, is official credential evaluation required?

  • For the initial application review, you can upload unofficial copies of your transcripts. However, if you are admitted, the University of Maryland Graduate School will require official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you've attended. For international transcripts, the Graduate School requires an official English translation if the transcript is not in English. See here:

Can I apply with a 3-year degree?

English Proficiency and Test Scores

  • The GRE is optional. A good score can enhance an application, but it's not mandatory. If you choose not to submit GRE scores, the absence of these scores will not impact your application.

What is the  TOEFL/IELTS required for all international students?

Can I apply if my overall IELTS/TOEFL score is adequate, but I have a low score in one section?

  • Yes, you can apply with your current English scores. However, we recommend retaking the exam to improve your section score. If you are admitted, you might be enrolled in the English Bridge Program or required to take an Advanced English Writing course, based on the specific area where your score is lower. This will be a conditional requirement for full admission. You typically have until July 7th to submit improved scores, which may exempt you from these additional English proficiency requirements. For more detailed information, please visit UMD Graduate School Admissions - English Proficiency Conditions.

As I completed my undergraduate degree and am currently undertaking my Master's degree, both in English, do I need to submit an English Test Scores?

  • Exempt from Submitting TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Scores:
    Students who have received a degree from a regionally accredited institution in the U.S. (with the exception of Puerto Rico) or a nationally recognized university in one of the countries on the subsequent list do not need to submit TOEFL, IELTS or PTE scores.  This exemption also applies to students who are currently studying for a degree at an institution in the U.S. or one of the countries on the list, but will receive their degree before enrolling at the University of Maryland.

I am from Nigeria, do I need to submit an English Test Scores?

  • Though the Undergraduate Admissions accepts Duolingo English Test, the Graduate School does not.
  • You may submit your application even if your English test scores are not available by the deadline. While it's preferable to have all components of your application complete, we understand that test scores might arrive slightly later as we conduct our initial application review. However, please ensure that your scores are submitted as soon as they are available.

Program Specifics and Transfer

  • Our PhD program can be pursued both full-time and part-time. The time to completion can vary significantly depending on the individual student's pace of study and research progress. On average, full-time PhD students complete the program in 5-6 years, while part-time students may take much longer. The majority of our classes are held during the weekdays. You can find detailed course schedule here: and courses offered can be found here:
  • Our program is primarily designed for full-time students and almost all of our courses are offered on-campus. While it is possible to complete the program on a part-time basis, it would require you to be local and have the flexibility to attend courses on campus.
  • Yes, students enrolled in the PhD program have the opportunity to earn an MS degree as they progress. If you're interested in this pathway, you should apply directly to the PhD program.
  • We do not have a separate transfer process. If you wish to switch from the MPS in Data Science and Analytics program or any other programs to the MS in Computer Science program, you would need to apply via the standard application for admission. It's important to note that courses from these programs are not eligible for PhD Course Waivers.

Financial Support and Assistantships

  • PhD students who are admitted and don't secure an RA position will be designated as TAs. All PhD students are funded through their program via Teaching Assistantships or Research Assistantships through their program, subject to satisfactory progress. Arrangements for RAs with professors are made on an individual basis. Although MS students occasionally secure financial assistance through assistantships, these opportunities are limited and highly competitive compared to those available for PhD students.
  • While all MS students are eligible to apply for assistantship positions, these positions are given only if available. There is no funding guarantee provided as part of the admission offer.

Additional Queries

  • Here are a few tips for a successful application:
    • Statement of Purpose: Clearly articulate your passion for your area of research in computer science, your goals, and why UMD and particular faculty are the right fit for you.
    • Recommendation Letters: Obtain letters from individuals who are known in the field and  who can speak to your academic and research abilities in detail.
    • Research and Projects: Highlight any significant projects, research, or internships you've undertaken in your field.
    • Academic Excellence: Ensure that your transcripts and other academic credentials showcase your dedication and aptitude in computer science and related areas.
    • Engage: If possible, engage with potential faculty or current students to get a feel for the program and establish a relationship with them.
  • A minimum of three recommendation letters is required. While we highly recommend having a letter from your academic advisor, letters from supervisors at research-related internships or jobs are also acceptable.

What are the expectations for the 'writing sample'?

  • For the writing sample, we expect a demonstration of your writing skills and scholarly potential. This could be a research paper, thesis, or any other substantial written work that you have completed. We leave the choice of the document to you, as it should ideally reflect your best writing and area of interest or expertise.
  • Admission to our PhD program is competitive and is based on a holistic review of all application materials, including academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and any research or work experience. 

    For the M.S. program, the admission rates were 4% in 2023, 9.2% in 2021, and 4.7% in 2020, with a historical average of around 5.6%. For the PhD program, the rates were 14.9% in 2023, 19.3% in 2021, and 18.3% in 2020, with a historical average of approximately 20.5%.
  • It's not required, and we encourage you to explore our faculty directory on the department website and reach out to faculty members whose research aligns with your interests.