Graduate Admissions FAQ

Admission Requirements, Application Process and Eligibility

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

Is a master's degree required to apply for the PhD program in Computer Science, or can I apply directly after completing my bachelor's degree?

  • 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

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

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

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.
  • The GRE is optional. A good score can enhance an application, but it's not mandatory.

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.
  • 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.