Information for Prospective Students

Thank you for your interest in the graduate program of the Computer Science Department at the University of Maryland, College Park! Our graduate program is ranked among the top in the nation and in the top ten among public universities. Scroll down to learn more about why UMD may be the right place for you.

Apply now!     Applications are due December 15 for acceptance in Fall 2024. 

NOTE to those applying to the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships Program (GRFP): NSF rules permit applications from students with masters degrees earned 2 or more years prior, who are planning to resume studies toward a PhD - but only if they apply for the NSF graduate fellowship at the same time as they apply to PhD programs. Once they enroll in a PhD program, they are no longer eligible to apply for the NSF GRFP.

NOTE ON APPLICATION STATUS: Most PhD applicants for Fall will be notified of their admission status between mid-February and late March, with potential for offers up until mid-April. Some applicants to the M.S. program will be notified during this time, but the majority of M.S. decisions will be communicated in late April. Applicants are notified via e-mail by the department. For this reason we ask that you do not send us requests for updates on your application review status.

Official decisions will be communicated by the department in the event of admission and the Graduate School in the event of a rejection. Regretfully, we do not have the capacity to address these status update requests in further detail.

Our Graduate Programs

Our department administers two graduate programs which focus on research:

  • Ph.D. in Computer Science
  • M.S. in Computer Science

PhD in Computer Science

Our graduate program is for those looking to pursue computer science research. Those applying should have strong backgrounds in computer science and demonstrated ability to conduct research in their chosen specialization independently and collaboratively.


PhD applicants should also consider applying for the Maryland Max Planck joint PhD program. Students in this program have the unique opportunity to pursue their PhD while working and living at both UMD and at a Max Planck institute in Germany. A separate application for that program is required. Apply here.

Maryland Max Plack Logo

MS in Computer Science

Graduate courses taken would be the same rigorous coursework as those in our PhD program. Students can choose a thesis or non-thesis option, but regardless, research is expected. The program lasts two years on average, unless you are a UMD Computer Science major who qualifies for our Combined BS/MS program, in which case you can potentially finish the program in one year. Note: Students eligible for that program should list their degree intent as the Combined BS/MS program when applying. 

For those looking to brush up computer science skills via advanced coursework or aiming strictly for a degree for the purpose of career advancement, strongly  consider these other programs:

About the Area

The University of Maryland is located in College Park, MD, about 7 miles from the center of our nation's capital, Washington, D.C. Many of our students and faculty live in D.C., College Park, Silver Spring, and other surrounding towns.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is a profoundly culture-rich, diverse city. Many of our students and faculty live in D.C. or visit it frequently, because:

  • There is a Metro stop in College Park, making a commute to D.C. fast and easy.
  • Most museums and art galleries in D.C. are free, year-round.
  • Some of the best restaurants in the nation are in D.C.
  • D.C. has a vibrant and diverse arts and music scene.

UMD is uniquely situated among top computer science programs given its proximity to the nation's capitol and the many groups who affect policy at national and international levels, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the major branches of the U.S. government (Judiciary, Congress, and the White House).

College Park

Iribe Center

This is a very exciting time to be at College Park, as the city is experiencing a renaissance. Even just over the past several years, there has been a surge of new restaurants, cafes, and modern apartment buildings:

In other words, UMD is an ideal place for a PhD experience that is culture-rich, fun, and full of opportunity for impact.

Research at UMD

We are dedicated to producing researchers of the highest caliber. Our PhD program is designed so that full-time doctoral students will become engaged in research within their first year.

Whatever your research interests, you will be able to work with leaders in the field toward carving out your personal research identity. Our department is rather large and highly diverse, covering virtually every aspect of computer science, and leading the charge in new areas such as bioinformatics and augmented and virtual reality:



The Computer Science Department has close ties to various research units on campus, providing faculty and students opportunities for collaborative research projects and access to specialized research facilities. Among these:

In addition, our students and faculty regularly collaborate with government and industry technology development organizations in the area, including: Federal Communications Commission (FCC), NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, National Institutes of HealthNational Institute for Standards and TechnologyArmy Research Labs, the National Security Agency, and many more.

Financial Information

We are committed to funding all of our PhD students throughout their program, provided they make satisfactory progress. This is made possible with a combination of research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and fellowships.


As a research assistant (RA) or teaching assistant (TA), your tuition will be paid for, and you will additionally receive stipend. For information on tuition and fees as well as living expenses in the College Park area, please refer to UMD's Office of Student Financial Aid.


Students are supported by graduate research assistantships on research grants and contracts, or as Teaching Assistants. Research assistants usually work on projects that lead to thesis or dissertation topics. 

For the 2023-2024 academic year (9-months), stipends for PhD research and teaching assistants are in the $29,000-31,000 range, depending upon educational background and experience. Students earn more money over summer either via assistantships or by interning at outside research labs or companies.

In addition to the stipends, teaching and research assistantships cover tuition for up to 10 credits per semester and provide health insurance coverage under the same University benefits plan enjoyed by staff and faculty. Many students also receive summer support.

PhD students are guaranteed assistantships as part of their offer of admission whereas M.S. students may receive these awards on a competitive basis if they are available. 


Unlike assistantships, fellowships usually do not require the student to perform any duties. The monetary award varies depending on the fellowship but it is generally similar to that of an assistantship. The Department often supplements a fellowship offer with a half-time assistantship.

Fellowships are available from a number of sources outside the University of Maryland, for example, National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships, Fulbright Fellowships, etc. To apply for these fellowships, you should contact the agency which administers them, check with the financial aid office in your current university, or contact UMD's Fellowship Office.

Degree Requirements

The Graduate Policy Manual details all of the information on degree requirements, but at a high level:

Our graduate students receive the training and expectation to develop a mastery of their field, and to gain a broad familiarity with their discipline by the time they graduate. In particular, we have designed the PhD program so that full-time doctoral students will:

  1. Become engaged in research in their first year.
  2. Identify a thesis adviser by the end of their second year.
  3. Identify a thesis topic by the end of their third year.
  4. Secure admission to candidacy within 3-4 years.
  5. Publish at least one paper prior to advancing to candidacy, and several prior to graduating.
  6. Complete all requirements and graduate within 4-6 years.

Doctor of Philosophy

Requirements for the PhD Degree include:

  1. Coursework: Six graduate-level courses covering four areas out of {artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, systems, databases, scientific computing, software engineering and programming languages, theory, and visual and geometric computing}, and two more graduate courses from any area. Also, 12 credit hours of CMSC 899 (Dissertation Research).
  2. Proposal: You must pass an oral Ph.D. Preliminary Examination on a research proposal and prepared readings. This must be completed within five years of entering the program.
  3. Defense: Finally, you must prepare a dissertation presenting an original contribution to the field of computer science and pass a final oral examination on your dissertation research. This must be done within four years after passing the Preliminary Examination.

Master of Science

The Department offers both thesis and non-thesis options for the M.S. degree. Requirements include:

  1. Coursework: 30 credit hours of qualifying courses covering four out of the seven areas.
  2. Scholarly paper: For an M.S. without thesis, a scholarly paper must be prepared under an advisor's supervision. For an M.S. with thesis, you must take six credit hours of CMSC 799 (Master's Thesis Research), prepare a thesis that presents an independent accomplishment, and defend it in a final oral examination.

Student Organizations

Our graduate students play an active role in shaping their community, the department, and the campus at large. One of the primary ways they do this is through various student organizations, including:

The Graduate Student Executive Council (GradCo) is an elected body of computer science graduate students, which plans activities and addresses issues of concern to the student body. The council also allocates funds from the graduate student activities budget. Sponsored activities typically include a departmental picnic, seminars and forums, a very popular weekly coffee hour, hikes, and parties.

The Graduate Student Government is a campus-wide organization of graduate students for the purpose of improving the quality of graduate student life. Some of the recent activities organized by this organization include protest rallies against taxation of scholarships and assistantships, a campus-wide research conference for Graduate Students, setting up a legal aid service for Graduate Students, distributing a newsletter with information for all Graduate Students, and organizing social events such as dances and weekly happy hours.

ACM student chapter: The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is the principal professional society for computer scientists. Membership is important for maintaining contact with current developments through journal publications, meetings and conferences. Our department has a student chapter of the ACM. Student members receive many of the benefits at a reduced rate: journals, conference registration, etc. Membership becomes extremely important as students move into the final stages of their study and begin submitting papers to conferences and ACM journals.

The Maryland Center for Women in Computing (MCWIC) works to increase diversity in all fields of computing by providing opportunities for individuals who identify as women to engage and contribute to the technical community through research, education, outreach, and partnerships.

MCWIC supports the Association of Women in Computing at UMD, Technica, and the Grad Women student organizations. Graduate Women are invited to engage with these groups.

The Department Council advises the Chair on issues affecting the department. It is composed primarily of faculty, but two graduate student representatives attend the meetings to provide graduate student input and to keep the graduate students informed of relevant issues.

The Education Committee is responsible for the undergraduate and graduate academic programs of the department. Composed primarily of faculty, the committee has two voting graduate student representatives and two voting undergraduate student representatives.


Computer Science Department
Graduate Office, Univ. of Md.
1130 Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering
8125 Paint Branch Drive
College Park, MD 20742
Tel: (301) 405-0771
Email Web
Enrollment Services Office: Grad Admissions
Univ. of Md., College Park
Enrollment Services Operations
Application for Graduate Admission
0130 Mitchell Bldg.
College Park, MD 20742
International Student & Scholar Services
1126 H.J. Patterson Hall
College Park, MD 20742
Tel: (301) 314-7740
The Graduate School
2123 Lee Bldg.
College Park, MD 20742
Tel: (301) 405-0376
Off-Campus Housing Services
1195 Stamp Student Union Bldg.
College Park, MD 20742
Tel: (301) 314-3645
Graduate Hills/Graduate Gardens
3424 Tulane Drive, Apt 14
Hyattsville, MD 20783
Tel: (301) 422-0147

Applying for Admission

Applicants interested in an Master of Science, Ph.D., or Graduate Certificate of Professional Students in Data Science should apply through the University's graduate application system

Apply Here
(Four-letter program code: CMSC)

Note on MS admissions: We are a research based MS program, and accept less than 20 candidates into our MS program (less than #% of those that apply). Students interested in doing research are highly recommended to apply to the PhD program. If you must apply to the MS program, we strongly encourage you to also apply for alternative programs.



Note The application deadline for both the PhD, MS, and Maryland Max Planck PhD Program programs is December 15, 2023. All supporting documents must be submitted by this time for consideration. Only those who are already UMD students can apply for the Spring semester; the deadline for this is September 29th, 2023.

Tip: We urge international students to submit applications early, because processing tends to take longer than for US applicants.

Applicants for Fall will be notified of their admission status between mid-February and late March. Applicants are notified via e-mail by the department. For this reason we ask that you do not send us requests for updates on your application review status until after this time.

Application Requirements

Applications are evaluated on the basis of educational and work experience, recommendation letters, and test scores. Undergraduate grade point averages are generally 3.5 or above. However, each applicant is considered individually, and reasonable exceptions can be made in particular cases.

Recommended Prerequisites

Application to the graduate program is open to individuals with an undergraduate education that includes much of the material covered in the following courses:

  • CMSC 330: Organization of Programming Languages
  • CMSC 420: Data Structures
  • CMSC 451: Design and Analysis of Computer Algorithms
  • MATH 140: Calculus I
  • MATH 141: Calculus II
  • MATH 240: Linear Algebra

Course material need not be identical, but should give students a background in these course concepts. While not a requirement for admission, having this background is recommended before submitting an application.

Application materials

Please submit all application materials electronically:

  1. Graduate application
  2. Transcripts (unofficial is acceptable; see notes below)
  3. Graduate Records Examination (GRE scores) (Not required - optional); institition code 5814. 
  4. Statement of purpose
  5. Letters of recommendation
  6. CV/Resume
  7. Publications/Presentations (optional)
  8. For the Maryland Max Planck PhD Program in Computer Science, follow the admissions instructions for that program.
  9. Non-refundable application fee ($75) for each program to which you apply. We recommend applying only to the MS or PhD program.


  • Our department does not offer application fee waivers. Information on eligibility for fee waivers through the Graduate School can found here.
  • Please be sure you have submitted all of the above materials to be considered for admission. Most of these materials should be submitted online. Transcripts and degree certificates/diplomas are required, and should be in the original language and accompanied by a literal, certified English translation. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable for purposes of admission but official copies must be received by the Graduate School before enrollment. Official copies of electronic transcripts should be password protected and sent directly from your university to gradschool [-at-] umd [dot] edu (subject: Electronic%20Transcript%20Submission) or can be mailed or hand-delivered in sealed envelopes to:
Enrollment Services Office: Grad Admissions
Univ. of Md., College Park
Enrollment Services Operations
Application for Graduate Admission
0130 Mitchell Bldg.
College Park, MD 20742

Info: Completed applications are reviewed by an admissions committee in each graduate degree program. The recommendations of the committees are submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School, who will make the final admission decision. Students seeking to complete graduate work at the University of Maryland for degree purposes must be formally admitted to the Graduate School by the Dean.  

Information for International Graduate Students

The University of Maryland is dedicated to maintaining a vibrant international graduate student community. The office of International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) is a valuable resource of information and assistance for prospective and current international students.  International applicants are encouraged to explore the services they offer, and contact them with related questions.

The University of Maryland Graduate School offers admission to international students based on academic information; it is not a guarantee of attendance.  Admitted international students will then receive instructions about obtaining the appropriate visa to study at the University of Maryland which will require submission of additional documents.  Please see the Graduate Admissions Process for International applicants for more information.

Applying to the Maryland Max Planck Ph.D. Program

If you are a new student applying for admission to the Maryland Max Planck Ph.D, Program, you must complete both the application process described above, and an application for admission into MMP.

Apply to the Maryland Max Planck PhD Program in Computer Science

Technical assistance

Applicants are encouraged to contact the online application’s helpdesk for any technical issues.  For questions related to the admissions process, prospective students may contact the Graduate School via gradappsupport [-at-] umd [dot] edu (subject: CMSC%20app%20support)

Still have questions? Fill out our contact form here.