Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Graduate Admissions FAQ

Q. What kind of undergraduate preparation is required?

A. The most important qualification for graduate study in Computer Science is good undergraduate preparation. The more Computer Science courses, and the better the performance in those courses, the greater the likelihood of admission to the program. However, if your overall performance convinces the Admissions Committee of your qualification for graduate study, minor deficiencies in undergraduate preparation are acceptable, provided these deficiencies are removed during the first year in Graduate School. At a minimum, you should have taken courses equivalent to

CMPSCI 121, Introduction to Problem Solving with Computers
CMPSCI 187, Programming with Data Structures
CMPSCI 220, Programming Methodology
CMPSCI 230, Computer Systems Principles
CMPSCI 250, Introduction to Computation
MATH 131/5, 132, Calculus I, II
MATH 233, Linear Algebra
STATS 515, Statistics I

Q. I'm attending a graduate program at a state college or university. Is it possible for me to transfer directly into the UMass, Computer Science graduate program?

A. There is no policy for directly transferring into Computer Science -- you must apply to the University's Graduate Admissions Office through the normal application procedure. However, you may request a transfer of up to six credits taken at another college or university once you have been admitted into our program (as long as those credits have not been used to satisfy the requirements for another degree).

Q. What criteria does the college use in recommending applicants for admission?

A. Admission into the College of Information and Computer Sciences is highly competitive. Backgrounds vary; we have students from engineering, math, computer science, electrical engineering, psychology and social sciences. With such a diverse group, emphasis is put on your academic background, letters of recommendation, personal statement, previous achievements, GPA and the GRE scores. We generally receive over 1000 applications (1/2 PhD, 1/2 MS) each year and enroll less than 10% of our applicants into our programs.

Q. What if my scores or letters don't arrive by the application deadline?

A. Applications received by the October 1st (Master's Program only) or December 15th deadlines will be reviewed when they are complete. If your application is submitted on time, any materials received later (ie, GRE scores, TOEFL scores, transcripts, letters) will be added to the application when they arrive. Please keep in mind that this may delay the review of your application because the Admissions Committee will not review incomplete applications. The review process begins in October/January and our first admission decisions are made in November for Spring and January/February for Fall. The longer it takes for your materials to arrive, the later it will be before your application is reviewed.

Q. I don't have a degree in Computer Science. What do I have to do to make my application competitive with Computer Science majors?

A. We receive many inquiries from prospective students with little or no undergraduate preparation in Computer Science. In most cases, we recommend that such students enroll as non-degree students here or elsewhere to learn the undergraduate core of Computer Science. A year spent in this fashion allows you to discover whether you do indeed have the requisite skills and deep interest in Computer Science, and it provides us with the necessary data to determine whether you qualify for admission to the graduate program. We occasionally make exceptions to this rule but only if a student wishes to pursue interdisciplinary studies in Computer Science and has shown exceptional ability in a complementary discipline such as math, electrical engineering, physics, linguistics, neuroscience or psychology. If you are admitted on these terms you will be required to satisfy undergraduate course deficiencies during your first year - the courses so taken do not, of course, count towards the graduate degree.

Q. Do we offer Spring admission?

A. We currently offer Spring admission to our Master's Program. We do not offer Spring admission for our Ph.D. program at this time.

Q. What departmental code do I use for reporting scores?

A. Always use 3917, the UMass Amherst University code. It is not necessary to include a departmental code.

Q. Will the University accept copies of GRE and TOEFL scores?

A. Official reports issued by ETS will be required before full processing of that application will take place. In rare instances, the Graduate School will accept certified copies of these reports.

Q. I am an international applicant currently attending an American college. Will my TOEFL be waived?

A. Yes, if you have earned a degree or you have current enrollment as a full-time student who will have completed two academic years of college/university work in the United States prior to the date of anticipated entrance at the University of Massachusetts.

Q. Are the official paper transcripts necessary for my application? 

A. We will not review your application without at least a scanned copy of the official transcripts. Your application will be considered incomplete. Upon receiving a formal acceptance to the MS or PhD program, you may mail or bring the official transcripts to the University Graduate School prior to the first day of the semester you are entering.

Where should I send my Transcripts?

A. Official Transcripts should be sent to Graduate Admissions Office, 530 Goodell Building, 140 Hicks Way, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003.

Q. What are the average test scores and GPA of accepted applicants?

A. For PhD admissions, many factors affect application success far more than the GPA and test scores, including the applicant's research experience, the strength of the recommendation letters, and the statement of purpose.  Still, our accepted students' test scores and GPA tend to be high.

For MS admissions, 90% of our recent accepted students' GRE math scores were 164 or higher, GRE verbal scores were 158 or higher, GRE analytic writing scores were 3 or higher, and GPAs were 3.4 or higher.

We aim for all our students to have a TOEFL score above 100.

Q. What are my chances of getting an assistantship (financial aid)?

A. For PhD and MS/PhD track students, it is our policy to provide financial aid (assistantships) to those admitted students requesting it (with occasional exceptions). Stipends come in the form of Research/Teaching Assistantships (12 month or 9 month). For example, stipends for the Academic Year 2015-2016 were $31,000.00 for 12 month appointments.

For MS track students, the College of Information and Computer Sciences does not provide financial support.  (The only exception is UMass Amherst undergraduates admitted via the Bay State Fellowship Program.)

It is also worth mentioning that the cost of living is cheaper in the Pioneer Valley than many other places which makes it easier to live on the level of support we offer.

Q. I've applied to your program and was not offered admission. I would like to reactivate my application. Is this possible?

A. If you wish to reapply, you'll need to fill out another application form through the Graduate Admissions Office, and pay the application fee. The application form asks whether you have previously made an application to the Graduate School. In the paper form, this question is in Section II, under OTHER and on the On-line application, it's in #18. Be sure to indicate "Yes" as well as the date or semester and year of your previous application. The College of Information and Computer Sciences keeps applications on file for two years. When your reapplication comes to our College, it will be so indicated on the front by the University's Graduate Admissions Office. The Graduate Secretary will then locate your old file and integrate it with any new materials. Anything you wish to add must be sent through the Graduate Admissions Office. Please do not send materials directly to the College, as it only causes delays in reviewing your application.

Q. I've been accepted to the MS degree program but would like to be considered for the PhD program instead. Is this possible?

A. You would need to withdraw your admission to the MS degree program and reapply to the PhD program.  There are no guarantees of readmission to the MS degree program once the application has been withdrawn for that semester.

Q. I've applied to the MS/PhD program and was offered the MS degree program. Can I apply again? 

A. We accept about 10-12% of our PhD applications. With such a large number of applications, we hope many of our outstanding PhD applicants will consider our MS degree program. You are welcome to reapply while you are enrolled as a MS student.