Prospective Students


You can apply to our professionally-oriented Master of Computer Science (MCS) program or to our research-oriented Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program. Jan 1, 2021 is the deadline for applying for admission to the Fall 2021 session.

  • Our MCS program is a flexible, coursework-only program that typically takes two years and enables students to deepen and expand their CS knowledge and prepares them for challenging technology industry careers. Students interested in this career path should consider applying to the MCS program. Our recent MCS graduates have gone on to jobs at well known technology companies (Amazon, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia), healthcare companies (Cerner Corporation, Epic Systems), educational testing companies (ACT, Pearson), insurance companies (State Farm, Nationwide Insurance), and many others (Collins Aerospace, John Deere, etc.).
  • Our research-intensive PhD program typically takes 5 years and it enables students to join our world-class faculty in doing original research from their very first semester. The department conducts internationally recognized research in the following areas: algorithms; computer security and privacy, cybersecurity; computational epidemiology; computational logic; distributed computing; human-computer interaction; mobile systems; numeric, parallel, and optimization algorithms; retro-computing and historic computer reconstruction; text/web mining; machine learning; informatics; and virtual environments. Find more details on our research programs here. PhD student research is supported by rigorous, yet flexible, coursework. Students interested in pursuing research or academic careers should consider applying to the PhD program. Visit our Recent PhDs page to see what our recent PhD graduates are up to or visit the Thoughts of Recent Graduates pages to read stories of what some of our graduate students are doing out in the world.


All our PhD students receive teaching or research assistantships that fully cover tuition and additionally provide a stipend for living expenses. This support is guaranteed for a minimum of four years, given good academic standing. In recent years, many of our MCS students have also been funded through teaching or research assistantships.

Visiting us

We organize a "Visit Day" for prospective graduate students in November. The Fall 2020 "Visit Day" was held - online - on Fri, Nov 6. Do consider visiting us - albeit virtually - for this event. 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 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 University of Iowa Computing Conference (UICC).

Requirements for Admission

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 eventual academic goal. 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.

  • Application to The University of Iowa Graduate College. For application information, please visit the University of Iowa's Admissions website. 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 Kasturi Varadarajan 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 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. For Fall 2021, we have waived the requirement that applicants submit GRE scores, and made this optional.
  • 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. For Fall 2021 applicants, the Graduate College has approved the use of DuoLingo  as a temporary additional testing option, as an alternative to TOEFL and IELTS. UI Graduate Admissions will use an official minimum requirement of 105 for admission and all students admitted on the DuoLingo English Test (DET) scores will be required to take the on-campus English Proficiency Exam when they arrive.
  • 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.

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


All documents and forms should be completed and then uploaded at the University of Iowa's myUI website. If you are new to the University you will be given access to myUI after you complete the graduate application.

Additional Information

For more information, or to read about Conditional Admission, Early Admission, Deferred Admission, Readmission, and Reconsideration, please see the Graduate Student Handbook.

You may also contact the Graduate Program Administrator:
Department of Computer Science
The University of Iowa
14 MacLean Hall
Iowa City, IA  52242-1419