Admission

The University of Iowa Computer Science Department offers three graduate degree programs: a research-oriented Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree; a professionally oriented Master of Computer Science (MCS) degree, and a Master of Science (MS) degree, which is only granted to students working towards the PhD. A subtrack in software engineering is available within the MCS program; in addition, interdisciplinary studies programs at both masters and doctoral levels are available through the Graduate College.

Choice of Program
Joint Bachelor's/Master's Degree Programs
Admission Criteria
Conditional Admission
Application Process
Application Deadlines
Early Admission
Deferred Admission
Readmission
Reconsideration
Dual Degrees
Change in Program

 

Choice of Program

Candidates are advised to apply directly to the program best suited to their academic goal. Students interested in pursuing research or academic careers should apply to the PhD program, while those seeking additional preparation, beyond their undergraduate training, for industrial careers should apply to the MCS program.

Students applying to the PhD program need not have a master's degree prior to admission. PhD candidates may opt to receive an MS or MCS degree while working towards the PhD, although there is no requirement to do so. Students who hold a master's degree upon entering the PhD program may apply for transfer credit of their master’s courses towards the PhD program requirements (see "Transfer Credits").

Students applying to the PhD program who are not selected for admission will automatically be considered for admission to the MCS program if they do not already hold a master's degree.

Joint Bachelor's/Master's Degree Programs

Qualified undergraduate students who plan to earn the MCS degree may apply for the joint Bachelor of Arts/MCS program or the joint Bachelor of Science/MCS program. The joint programs allow students to earn both degrees in five years. See Combined BA/MCS and BS/MCS Programs.

Admission Criteria

  • Application to The University of Iowa Graduate College. For application information, please visit the University of Iowa's Admissions website (https://grad.admissions.uiowa.edu/apply). Please note: The Computer Science Department's deadline for submission of the graduate application and required documents is January 1 for fall admission. We do not accept applications for spring admission except in rare circumstances. The Director of Graduate Studies Professor Sriram Pemmaraju will determine on a case-by-case basis if a student is eligible to apply for spring admission.
  • The completion of a four-year undergraduate degree (or its equivalent) from an accredited institution. (Students applying to the PhD program need not have a master's degree prior to admission. Those who do may apply for transfer credit of their master’s courses towards the PhD program requirements; see "Transfer Credits").
  • A minimum 3.00 undergraduate grade point average on a four-point scale. Graduate students in recent years had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.46 on a 4.00 scale.
  • Applicants to the PhD program, international or domestic, are required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test. Applicants to the MCS program are strongly encouraged, but not required, to submit GRE General Test scores. The GRE General Test scores of PhD students admitted for fall 2016 averaged 156 Verbal, 164 Quantitative and 3.5 Analytic Writing. GRE General test scores of MCS students admitted in fall 2016 averaged 150 Verbal, 163 Quantitative and 3.0 Analytic Writing.
     
  • The Graduate College requires a minimum TOEFL score of 81 for Internet-based testing or a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 (with no section score lower than 6.0) for international applicants whose native language is not English. However, students with TOEFL scores below 100 on Internet-based testing are generally not admitted to Computer Science graduate programs. Exceeding these scores does not guarantee admission, and average scores of students who are awarded financial aid are significantly higher. All students submitting IELTS scores must also take an on-campus English Proficiency Evaluation prior to registration.
     
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts, showing strong performance in the following key areas:
    • Math foundations (calculus, discrete math, probability, numerical analysis, etc.);
    • Programming (C, C++, Java) and programming language foundations;
    • Data structures and algorithms;
    • Software and hardware systems

In addition, we look for exposure to database programming and network programming.

  • Three letters of recommendation and/or a recommendation form. Recommendations should be completed by persons who have direct knowledge of an applicant’s intellectual ability, motivation to study computer science, preparation for graduate school, creativity in research, capacity to work independently, and, if an international student, ability to speak and write English.
  • A statement of purpose indicating that the applicant understands the nature of the graduate program for which s/he is applying, and to perhaps express interest in a particular area of computer science. A statement of purpose is particularly important for PhD applicants as a way of showing their preparedness to quickly start research in a specific area of Computer Science.
     
  • A curriculum vitae or résumé.

We regret that we are unable to evaluate any individual’s probability of admission prior to formal application beyond the information already presented here.

Conditional Admission

In exceptional circumstances, a student who does not meet the criteria for regular admission may be granted conditional admission. The Department will specify the conditions a student must meet to achieve regular status and will advise the student accordingly. The student must fulfill the conditions within two sessions of registration in the Graduate College, or face dismissal. Admission in this special category is reserved for cases where there are strong indications for success in the program, despite weaknesses in certain parts of the application.

Application Process

The candidate must file an application for admission online (available at The University of Iowa web site https://grad.admissions.uiowa.edu/). The candidate must also submit official transcripts, test scores and other supporting material (e.g., a statement of purpose) by the designated deadline for the session in which admission is requested. The University of Iowa application fee must be paid before the application is considered.

Application Deadlines

Those seeking admission for the fall semester must have their completed applications on file by January 1. For full consideration, all supplementary materials (transcripts, letters of recommendation and statement of purpose) should also be received by that date. We do not do summer admissions, but we do a very small number of spring admissions, under exceptional circumstances. Students interested in spring admission are required to receive permission to apply from the Director of Graduate Studies and must complete their application by October 15.

Early Admission

A student who is within 6 semester hours of having satisfied all the requirements for the bachelor's degree at The University of Iowa or any other accredited college may be granted early admission to the Graduate College. With early admission, the student may begin their graduate course work at the same time they are completing their last semester of undergraduate study.

Deferred Admission

Students admitted to either the PhD or MCS program may request a deferral of admission, one time only, for up to one year beyond the originally specified matriculation date. While such deferrals are automatically granted, students offered admission with financial support who defer their start date will not be guaranteed the same financial package the following year.

Readmission

Students who are admitted to a CS graduate program, but who then fail to register for a period of 12 months or more must complete an Application for Readmission to a Graduate Program (to resume study in the same graduate program), found at https://grad.admissions.uiowa.edu/apply/returning-graduate-students on the Admissions website. Acceptance is dependent upon departmental approval for the session in which readmission is desired. Consideration of the application for readmission will be governed by the departmental and Graduate College admissions standards in effect at the time of reapplication. 

Reconsideration

Candidates not selected for admission may request reconsideration, one time only, for the following academic year without preparing a new application by contacting The University of Iowa Office of Admission and requesting a change in session, or by requesting that the CS Academic Services Coordinator initiate the change. Note that it is the candidate's responsibility to ensure that any updated information or documentation is provided before subsequent application deadlines.

Dual Degrees

Students in the doctoral program of another UI department may elect to pursue getting an MCS degree concurrent with their doctoral program. Students will need approval from their home department before requesting admission to the MCS program. Contact the CS Academic Services Coordinator for more information.

Change in Program

The Department recognizes that a student's goals may change once they begin graduate study. Any student contemplating such a change in status should discuss the issue with their advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

After consulting their faculty advisor, students opting to drop from the PhD to the MCS program may do so by filing an appropriate Graduate College Change of Status form with the Department Academic Services Coordinator. Such requests are almost always approved.

Students originally admitted to the MCS program may also request a change in status to enter the PhD program. Note, however, that since the PhD is the more selective of the two programs, a request to change from the MCS to the PhD program is not approved automatically, and will go through the same review process as external applicants to the PhD program. These applications are all considered together in the spring for the following fall admission. See Application Process and Application Deadlines for more information on the application process.

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