Admission to our graduate programs is based on a rigorous and competitive selection process, that considers undergraduate performance, standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation.

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.

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.

Requirements for Admission

  • Application to The University of Iowa Graduate College. For application information, please visit the University of Iowa's Graduate and Professional Admissions website. For more information or to apply now, see the "How to Apply" section below.
  • 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 those courses towards the PhD program requirements; see Transfer Credits.)
  • A minimum 3.00 undergraduate grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Graduate students in recent years had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.60 for PhD applicants and 3.28 for MCS applicants.
  • 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 recently averaged 155 Verbal, 164 Quantitative and 4 Analytic Writing. GRE General test scores of MCS students admitted recently averaged 153 Verbal, 163 Quantitative and 3.5 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: In addition, we look for exposure to database programming and network programming
    • 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
  • 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 curriculum vitae or résumé.

NOTE: 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.

How to Apply

To apply online, go to the UI Graduate and Professional Admissions website.

After you submit your application, you will receive email instructions on how to establish your HawkID and password in order to access your Admissions Profile on MyUI, our online portal for students. All supporting materials can and should be uploaded through your Admissions Profile. If your academic program requires letters of recommendation, you will be asked to provide the contact information of your recommenders on your Profile. The recommender will then receive an email from the Office of Admissions instructing them on how to upload a recommendation letter and/or recommendation form.

Applicants for admission to the graduate program must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College on the Graduate College website.

Visiting Us

We organize a "Visit Day" for prospective graduate students in November. You'll be able to interact with our graduate students and faculty and hear more about our research, courses, internship/job opportunities, funding opportunities, etc. Write to our Graduate Program Administrator at cs-info@list.uiowa.edu if you'd like to visit. For students who have been admitted to our graduate programs, we organize an "Admitted Students Day" in February. This event usually coincides with our student-run ACM University of Iowa Computing Conference (UICC).