Grad Student Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I contact you with specific questions?
- What are my chances of being admitted into the UW CSE department?
- How does CSE define “international student”?
- Can I participate in the Ph.D. program on a part-time basis?
- What if I only want to apply for a master’s degree?
- Can I transfer to your Ph.D. program from another program/school?
- Can I take graduate classes without being admitted to your Ph.D. program?
Admission Prerequisites and GRE Information
- I do not have a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Can I still apply to your Ph.D. program?
- What GPA do I need for admission to your Ph.D. program?
- My school does not use a 4.0 grading system. How do I report my GPA?
- What are the minimum required GRE scores?
- Do I need to take a Subject GRE for computer science to be admitted into your program?
- What is the CSE department’s ETS code?
- What happens if I miss the application deadline because ETS cannot send my test results in time?
International Student Status
- Do I need to take the TOEFL?
- What scores are required on the TOEFL for admission to your program?
- Are there any exceptions to my taking these tests?
- What other English language proficiency tests do you accept?
- What level of English language proficiency do I need to accept a Teaching Assistantship?
- What is the application deadline?
- How often do you admit new students?
- How many new students do you accept each year?
- If I am not offered admission, can I be placed on a waiting list?
- How do I submit an application?
- What should I do if I can’t afford the application fee?
- When will I know if I’ve been admitted?
- Do I need to submit the Statement of Financial Ability form with my application?
- How should my references submit their letters of recommendation to you?
- Can I submit hardcopy letters of recommendation?
- Do my letters of recommendation need to come from university faculty, or can they be written by employers?
- How can I check on the status of a submitted application for information (e.g., receipt of test scores or letters of recommendation)?
- How likely is it that I will get financial support from the CSE department?
- Can you explain how your assistantships work?
- How does your Department compare to other top universities’ Ph.D. programs?
- Where do most of your Ph.D. graduates find employment?
You may contact the Computer Science and Engineering department by mail at:
Computer Science and Engineering
Allen Center 101
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
CSE Ph.D. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CSE Ph.D. FAX number: 206-543-2969
CSE Ph.D. phone: 206-543-1695
You may contact the UW Graduate School at:
What are my chances of being admitted into the UW CSE Ph.D. program?
The admission process is very competitive, and the likelihood of an applicant’s being offered admission depends on the quality of the overall applicant pool, which varies from year to year. There is no way to know your chances until all applications have been received and reviewed. If you have the prerequisite education, your GPA and test scores are close to the averages for CSE applicants, and you have a demonstrated drive to excel and innovate, then you are a competitive applicant. In recent years, CSE has received over 1200 applications and made about 100 offers for 35-40 positions.
How do you define “international student”?
You are considered to be an international student if you are not a citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S. If you are in the process of becoming a permanent U.S. resident, you MUST follow the guidelines for international students until you have received your Green Card.
Can I participate in the Ph.D. program on a part-time basis?
Because of the high level of involvement that we expect from our graduate students, it is not possible to participate in our Ph.D. program on a part-time basis.
What if I want to apply only for a master’s degree in computer science?
The Computer Science and Engineering department does not offer a separate, full-time master’s degree. All students evaluated and admitted into the Ph.D./M.S. program are determined to be capable of earning a Ph.D. and performing research in computer science. We consider all applicants with only Ph.D. criteria and potential in mind.
Can I transfer to your Ph.D. program from another program/school?
We do not have a formal transfer program. You will need to submit the same application as any new applicant.
Can I take Ph.D.-level classes without being admitted to your Ph.D. program?
It is possible to take graduate courses as a Non-Matriculated (NM) student. As such, you can attend CSE graduate-level courses on a space-available basis. For detailed information, please see: http://www.outreach.washington.edu/nondegree/about/.
Admission Prerequisites and GRE Scores
I do not have a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Can I still apply to your Ph.D. program?
Yes, you can apply, although you must have at least a four-year bachelor’s degree to be eligible. In addition, you must satisfy all admission requirements outlined in the Graduate Study section of the UW General Catalog. Furthermore, we expect most entering graduate students to have a solid academic background in computer science.
What are the minimum required GRE scores for acceptance to your Ph.D. program?
The department does not have a minimum required GRE score; however, your score should be close to the average GRE score of admitted applicants for your application to be competitive.
What GPA must I have for admission to your Ph.D. program?
You must have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA. However, successful CSE Ph.D. applicants usually have a significantly higher score (i.e., 3.8 and above).
My school does not use a 4.0 grading system. How do I report my GPA?
You can do one of two things:
- Estimate how your grades will convert to our 4.0 system and report your estimate. There is no penalty for estimating incorrectly.
- Leave the GPA field on the application blank
- Enter the grade reported on your transcript. The CSE admissions committee is familiar with most grading systems and can evaluate them fairly well.
Do I need to take the subject GRE for computer science?
No, you do not need to take the subject test. It is not required for the CSE Ph.D. program.
What is the CSE department’s ETS code?
The University of Washington’s ETS code is 4854. A department code is not required. All scores are received electronically and entered into the UW database, where they are then distributed and matched to applications regardless of specific academic department.
What happens if I miss a deadline because ETS cannot send my test results to you on time?
You should schedule your tests to allow sufficient time for the scores to be reported. ETS generally needs 4 – 6 weeks. Thus, if you take the test in early November, your scores will be reported in early to mid-December. You may enter unofficial scores in the self-report section of the online application. When your official scores arrive at the UW, they will be automatically matched to your application. Applications will be reviewed with unofficial scores.
International Student Status
Do I need to take the TOEFL?
A satisfactory command of the English language is required for admission to any of the UW Graduate Studies programs. Applicants who are not native speakers of English must submit a TOEFL-iBT score or a TOEFL (CBT or PBT) score. The scores must be less than 2 years old.
What scores are required on the TOEFL for admission to your program?
- TOEFL-iBT. The minimum TOEFL-iBT score is 92, including at least 26 on the Speaking section of the test and at least 70 (combined) on other sections. Even if your scores are below these stated minimums, your application will still be reviewed. If your score is below 92 and you are admitted, you will be required to take a local English-language speaking test upon arrival on campus.
- TOEFL CBT or PBT. A minimum score of at least 250 (computer-based test) or 600 (paper-based test) is required.
Are there any exceptions to my taking these tests?
Yes. Applicants who are citizens of Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, Trinidad & Tobago, or the United Kingdom do not need to submit a TOEFL score. Non-native speakers of English who have received a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited U.S. institution or from an institution in countries listed above are also exempt from the TOEFL requirement. Those whose instruction in school was conducted entirely in English are exempt from submitting English language test scores. Supporting documentation must be submitted with unofficial transcripts in the online application. For further information, please refer to the Graduate School English Language Proficiency Requirements.
Besides the TOEFL, what other language tests/scores do you accept?
We accept the Michigan Language Test (minimum score of 90), the International English Language Testing System examination (minimum score of 7.0) and the Pearson Test of English (minimum score of 65).
The University of Washington only accepts scores submitted electronically by the IELTS test center. No paper Test Report Forms will be accepted. No institutional code is required. You must request from the center where you took the test, to have the scores sent electronically using the IELTS system (E-TRF). All IELTS test centers can send scores electronically to the receiving organization. Allow a minimum of 13 working days for reporting test results.
Here is the address for electronic reporting:
University of Washington
(department/office)- Data Management Services
Location: Seattle WA USA
No postal mailing address is required.The way this works is the testing center where you took the test reports your test results back into the IELTS website. Our UW- data services will then go into the IELTS website to download your official test results into our system, so score results are not ‘sent’ to any office. We no longer accept official paper test scores so do not send any paper of any kind.
What level of English proficiency do I need to serve as a Teaching Assistant?
The University of Washington require a TOEFLibt Speaking score of 26 to qualify for a teaching assistantship. Please refer to Conditions of Appointment for TAs who are not Native Speakers of English for further information.
What is the application deadline?
The deadline is December 15 for all applicants or the first business day following if the 15th falls on a weekend. All required application materials must be submitted online by this date. Review of applications begins shortly after this deadline.
How often do you admit new students?
Applications are accepted once a year. New students are admitted for autumn quarter only. We do not admit for winter, spring or summer quarters.
How many new students do you admit each year?
The number of new students varies from year to year. Typically, we offer admission to 8 percent of the pool of applicants to yield a class of 50-55 entering students.
If I am not offered admission, can I be placed on a waiting list?
The CSE department does not keep a waiting list. Decisions made by the Admissions Committee are final. Because applicants to our program are also applying to other programs, we expect that a certain number of our offers will be declined. To account for this, we offer admission to more applicants than we expect to accept our offer. This ensures that we fill our open spaces without needing to use a wait list.
How do I submit an application?
Applications must be submitted online. No hardcopy materials are used in the admissions review process.
What should I do if I cannot afford the application fee?
A limited number of application fee waivers are available only for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and immigrants. All fee waivers are granted by the Office of Graduate Admissions as determined by financial need. The fee waiver application is part of the online application.
When will I know if I’ve been admitted?
The Admissions Committee will begin reviewing applications soon after the deadline of December 15. Final decisions are usually made by early to mid-February. You will hear from us regarding the status of your application around that time. Notification will occur via e-mail.
Do I need a Financial Ability form with my application?
Applicants requesting an F-1 or J-1 student visa must meet the University of Washington's financial ability requirement. The financial ability requirement is met by showing proof of readily accessible and adequate funding to cover living expenses, tuition and other campus fees for the first year of study. Stocks, bonds or proof of property ownership are not acceptable financial resources.
You do not need to submit any financial information (such as bank statements). If you are admitted to the program you will be asked to indicate in an on-line form that you will be relying on funding from the CSE department if you are admitted.
How do my references submit their letters of recommendation to your program?
When you are completing your online application, you will be asked to provide contact information for your recommenders, including an email address and a phone number. You will then activate the request for a letter in the online application. The recommenders will then be sent an email with instructions about submitting your letters.
Can I submit hardcopy letters of recommendation?
We strongly prefer that letters of recommendation be submitted online. If this is not possible, you may mail by post to the CSE department address. Even if your letters are submitted in hardcopy form, you must still enter names and contact information on your online application; otherwise, there will be no place in your application to upload the scanned hardcopy letters.
Do my letters of recommendation need to come from university faculty, or can they be written by employers?
You may ask whomever you please to write your letters of recommendation. However, keep in mind that we are looking for students who have an aptitude for (or experience in) conducting research in an academic setting and rely on faculty familiar with Ph.D. programs, research, and students. Choose your letter writers accordingly.
How can I check on the status of a submitted application?
Re-enter your application and check the 'status of materials' section as well as the 'status of letters'. You will not find the status of admission information in your online application. Look for an email from the CSE department around early to mid-February.
How likely is it that I will get Financial Support from the CSE department?
All accepted students are guaranteed full support for a minimum of 3 years through research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and departmental/external fellowships. Funding after the initial 3 years is usually available and is contingent on satisfactory academic progress and availability of funds. No student in good standing is unsupported in our program and all who graduate are funded until the completion of the Ph.D.
Can you explain your various assistantships?
Please refer to Tuition and Assistantships for more detail.
How does your CSE department compare to those of other top-rated research universities?
Thank you for asking this important question. Please refer to the Program Overview to learn about the many unique attributes we offer in terms of faculty, research, and culture.
Where do most of your Ph.D. graduates find employment?
Most of the graduates from the CSE Ph.D. program find employment in academic institutions (research/teaching or teaching), research labs (industry and academic), post-docs, start-ups and industry.