Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Prospective Applicants
The sections below provide answers to frequently asked questions from prospective applicants regarding our department and our program.
General Application Questions (M.S. and Ph.D.)
What are the requirements to apply to your M.S./Ph.D. program?
Applicants to Computer Science graduate programs (both M.S. and Ph.D.) must meet the admissions requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. These requirements (and answers to many questions about them) can be found on the GSAS Admissions FAQ.
In addition, applicants to Computer Science programs are expected to have a background in computer science and mathematics that prepares them for graduate-level coursework and/or research in computer science.
I hold a Bachelor’s degree in a subject other than computer science. Can I apply?
Yes, if you have a suitable background in computer science and mathematics topics. Your background can come from formal coursework (even if your earned degree is not in computer science); from professional experience or employment; or a combination of both.
Our admissions committee reviews each applicant’s transcript for particular coursework and will recognize courses in computer science and mathematics even if your earned degree does not say “computer science.”
I am an international student. Is your program eligible to apply for the 2-year STEM extension for OPT?
Yes. Our MS Computer Science degree is a STEM degree and is eligible for this extension.
Applying for the STEM extension takes place after completing the regular 12-month OPT period. Georgetown’s Office of Global Services provides guidance on the STEM OPT extension.
I am an international student with a three-year degree. Can I apply?
Yes, if your degree is equivalent to a US (four-year) Bachelor’s degree (this is a Graduate School requirement for admission). One way to verify/demonstrate this equivalence is to obtain a World Education Services (WES) evaluation indicating that your degree is equivalent to a B.S.
Is a WES evaluation required in order to apply for your program?
No, but we strongly recommend obtaining one if your earned degrees do not follow the usual US system (that is, a 4-year Bachelor’s degree).
The Graduate School may also request an evaluation if your transcript does not conform to their standards; consult the GSAS Admissions FAQ for more information.
Does your program require a GRE score in order to apply?
No, we do not require a GRE score in order to apply.
The application form provides the option to submit a GRE score if you wish to do so, but the absence of a GRE score is not viewed negatively by our program.
Does your program require a language exam score in order to apply? What is the minimum score?
Yes, unless you hold an earned degree from an institution whose primary language of instruction is English (this is a Graduate School requirement for admission). The set of acceptable language exams and formats is maintained by the Graduate School on the GSAS Admissions FAQ.
Our program requires the following minimum scores for admission:
- TOEFL: 90 or better
- IELTS: 7.0 or better
Where should I send my official transcript/test scores/other materials?
Review the GSAS Admissions FAQ for the relevant ETS codes and/or addresses.
Does your program offer “conditional admissions” for applicants who meet some (but not all) of the admissions requirements?
The Graduate School extends conditional offers of admission to applicants who have not yet completed a Bachelor’s degree (e.g., undergraduates in their final year of their Bachelor’s program). These offers are conditional on completing the Bachelor’s degree prior to beginning the graduate program at Georgetown.
Neither the Graduate School nor the department provide conditional offers of admission based on other conditions, including (but not limited to) plans to take supplemental coursework prior to joining the program or required application materials which have not been received by the Graduate School.
If I am admitted to the M.S. program, can I transfer to the Ph.D. program later?
Not directly. Current M.S. students who wish to continue as Ph.D. students are required to submit an application (through Slate) for the Ph.D. program. If you are a current M.S. student and have questions about this process, contact the Graduate Program Manager.
I am a current graduate student at Georgetown (in another department/program). How can I transfer to a Computer Science program?
You should apply to the program using Slate (by visiting the GSAS website) in the same way you applied to your current program. The Graduate School handles change-of-degree-program requests as applications to the new degree program.
M.S. Application Questions
Can I complete the M.S. degree as a part-time student?
It depends. Our program is designed for full-time students, and there are several obstacles that a part-time student must overcome:
- Our course lectures are scheduled during weekdays (MTWR) with few or no lectures scheduled during the evening
- Graduate School time limits require the completion of the M.S. degree in no more than three years, necessitating that students complete (on average) two courses (six credits) each semester to remain on track.
- International students on an F-1 visa typically must be full-time students (3 courses / 9 credits) and have restrictions on their employment while enrolled.
In particular circumstances it may be possible to complete the program part-time; if you have questions to this end contact the Graduate Program Manager.
What is the average/expected cost of attendance for the MS degree?
The Graduate School provides estimates for the annual cost of attendance (both the tuition costs of the program and the cost-of-living in the DC area) at this website. When reading this website
- Our program is housed in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
- The typical MS student takes 18 credits (9 + 9) in their first year and 12 credits (9 + 3) in their second year
Do you provide scholarship or other financial aid for M.S. applicants?
No, the department does not currently provide financial aid for M.S. students.
Do you provide application fee waivers/assistance for M.S. applicants?
No, the department does not currently provide application fee waivers for M.S. applicants.
Are there opportunities for employment as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Research Assistant (RA) for M.S. students?
Each semester the department hires some number of hourly teaching assistants (depending on course needs) for which M.S. students may apply. These positions are paid hourly (with a 5 hour/week limit) at a rate determined by the GAGE Collective Bargaining Agreement (our graduate student union). In general, these positions are not sufficient to cover the full cost of tuition and living expenses for an M.S. student.
M.S. students are eligible to perform research work with a faculty member (as an RA), though this would require both a relationship/collaboration between the student and faculty member and appropriate funding (i.e., grant-backed) from that faculty member. Such an arrangement should not be counted on.
Ph.D. Application Questions
Can I complete the Ph.D. degree as a part-time student?
It depends. Our program is designed for full-time students and there are several obstacles that a part-time student must overcome:
- Our course lectures are scheduled during weekdays (MTWR) with few or no lectures scheduled during the evening
- International students on an F-1 visa typically must be full-time students (3 courses / 9 credits) and have restrictions on their employment while enrolled
- In order to receive merit aid from the department/university, a student must be enrolled full-time
In particular circumstances where your employment coincides with your area of research interest it may be possible to complete the Ph.D. part-time; if you have questions to this end please contact the Graduate Program Manager.
Do you provide scholarship or other financial aid to Ph.D. applicants?
Yes, every offer of admission to the Ph.D. program includes an offer of financial aid for five years of study in the program. This offer covers the full cost of health insurance, required coursework for the program, and an assistantship position which provides a stipend during the academic year. The details of this support are governed by the GAGE Collective Bargaining Agreement (our graduate student union).
Funding is not guaranteed during the summer months (May – July); many students seek funding either through grant-funded research assistantships (supervised by a faculty member) or through internship positions in industry.
Do you provide application fee waivers/assistance for Ph.D. applicants?
We have a limited budget for providing application fee waivers to Ph.D. program applicants. The funds for providing application fee waivers during the 2022-2023 admissions cycle (i.e., to begin in Fall 2023) have been exhausted; no more application fee waivers can be given this year.
In order to request an application fee waiver, please take the following steps:
- Begin an application using Slate (by visiting the GSAS website).
- Complete the application (including personal information, academic history, test scores, etc.) up to the request for application fee payment (providing payment information is the LAST step in completing an application).
- Contact the Graduate Program Manager (via email) to request an application fee waiver. Your message should include both the name and email address provided in your application (so it can be located in the system).
Fee waiver requests made prior to completing an application (up to the payment step) cannot be considered. Requests will be processed in the order in which they are received, beginning in early October.
Should I contact individual faculty members before applying and/or during the application process?
Applicants are strongly encouraged to review faculty profiles and research interests (available on our department website) before starting their application, and to describe both their research interests and potential faculty collaboration as part of the research statement portion of their application.
It may be appropriate to contact a faculty member to inquire about whether they are seeking new students or to ask about research collaboration. Always review the website first to determine if they welcome such inquiries.
Please note that all admissions decisions are made by our admissions committee. The committee may request a faculty member’s recommendation (based, e.g., on the applicant’s research statement) and a faculty member may recommend an applicant for admission, but no individual faculty member can guarantee an offer of admission. All applications must be submitted through the Graduate School per their guidelines; please do not send application requests or materials to faculty members directly.
Do I need to select a faculty adviser when I apply to the program?
No. Ph.D. students are admitted to the program without assignment to a particular adviser or lab and have until the end of the first year to form an adviser/advisee relationship.
Application Process Questions
How do I submit an application?
Applicants to our program are submitted through the Graduate School application system (Slate). You can begin a new application (or continue an existing application) by visiting their website.
I am having a problem with the application system (Slate). Who should I contact?
Send an email to the Graduate Admissions team at email@example.com — they administer the admissions system and will help resolve your problem.
Can I apply to both the M.S. and Ph.D. programs during the same application cycle?
Yes, but to do so you will need to complete two applications in Slate – one for the M.S. program and one for the Ph.D. program. Certain materials (such as standardized test scores) can be shared between applications, but others will need to be duplicated. If you are in this situation and have questions about the two applications, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
I have applied to Georgetown (using Slate) before. Can I re-use my old application?
No, you will need to create and complete a new application for the current admissions cycle.
Some application materials (such as previously reported standardized test scores) may be automatically re-used provided that the scores are still valid. For questions about which materials qualify for re-use, contact email@example.com for assistance.
Can you help me with my application before I submit it?
No. Our admissions committee will not give advice on or review an incomplete application. If you are looking for advice on graduate school applications, consult the resources at your home institution.
I was not able to submit my application before the deadline. Can I apply after the deadline?
No, all applications must be completed and submitted prior to the final deadline in order to be considered.
Applicants who have submitted all required components before the final deadline except for the application fee may have their applications reviewed, provided that they pay the application fee in a timely manner.
How does the application review process work?
All graduate applications are reviewed by the department’s admissions committee, which makes an admissions recommendation to our Graduate School. The Graduate School reviews both the department recommendation and the application itself (for all GSAS requirements) before making a final admissions decisions.
Offers of admission are made by the Graduate School through decision letters sent via email.
How long will it take for me to receive an admissions decision?
The department admissions committee begins reviewing completed applications after the priority application deadline; applications are then reviewed on a rolling basis through the final deadline (after which no additional applications may be submitted). Admissions recommendations are forwarded to the Graduate School as they are made.
The exact timing of admissions decisions depends on factors such as the number of applications received, the quality of applications received, and the number of new students the department is able to handle for a given year.
It is the goal of the admissions committee that applications submitted (for a fall program start) by January 15 receive an admissions decision no later than March 15.
Can you provide feedback on my application (such as why I was not offered admission)?
Unfortunately, no. The discussions and reasoning of the admissions committee are confidential and are not shared outside the committee.
Admitted Student Questions
I have already completed some graduate coursework. Can I transfer those credits into the program?
Yes, with some restrictions.
Both M.S. and Ph.D. students can request transfer credit for graduate-level coursework that is both relevant to computer science and which has not been applied to an earned degree. No more than three courses (9 credits) may be transferred.
Ph.D. students who have earned an M.S. degree in computer science or a relevant field may be eligible for advanced standing which can reduce the coursework required for the Ph.D. degree.
I am an international student. How do I get my I-20 (or other immigration paperwork)?
The Office of Global Studies (OGS) assists with the student visa process before and during your time at Georgetown. Shortly after you confirm your enrollment, OGS will contact you via your newly-assigned Georgetown email address with instructions on how to begin this process.
At various times of year, OGS receives a large volume of emails related to newly-admitted students and immigration paperwork. It may take more than one business day for them to respond to questions via email at these times. Because of this, it is in your best interest to complete the required paperwork as promptly as possible to minimize possible paperwork delays.
The Graduate Program Manager has been explicitly instructed not to answer questions related to visas, immigration, I-20 forms, or similar so as not to accidentally provide incorrect information. They cannot help with these issues or shorten OGS response times.
Something unexpected has happened and I can’t start my program when I planned. Can I defer to a later semester?
The Graduate School allows admitted students to request a Deferral of Admission for up to one year after their planned start date. You can submit a deferral request by clicking here and following the link on that page (which leads to a Slate log-in).
Deferral requests are reviewed by both the department and the Graduate School before being approved; you should include all relevant information in your request. For more information about deferrals, see the Graduate School’s Admitted Students FAQ.
My question does not appear above. What should I do?
If you have carefully read the information above and still have questions, send an email to the Graduate Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.