Ph.D. Admissions Contact

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The online application process for the Allen School’s Computer Science & Engineering Ph.D. program opens annually on Sep 1. Applications are accepted for admission for autumn quarter only. The deadline for both international and U.S. students is Dec 15, or the next following business day, if the 15th falls on a weekend.

Admission decisions are announced by mid-February. Students must accept/decline offers by Apr 15.

The Graduate School maintains our application portal, and has provided a great FAQ regarding submissions and requirements. Please do contact them with any technical questions. The University of Washington Graduate School supports, advances and champions graduate education throughout the UW and to the general public.

At the UW, The Graduate School is responsible for processing applications, granting degrees, and ensuring compliance with the University’s policies for all advanced UW degree programs, with the exception of the M.D., D.D.S., J.D. and Pharm.D. Serving approximately 14,000 graduate students, the Graduate School also offers a range of opportunities so students can develop the leadership, communication and personal skills needed for a rewarding life and academic, research or professional career.

All International Students should review the International Applicant Information provided by the Graduate School.

Please be sure to review the Admitted International Graduate Students page as it will help clarify what will be expected, and therefore you'll have enough time to plan how to get everything done.

In response to current restrictions created by the COVID-19 health crisis, the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering will not be using the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) scores for Ph.D. admissions during the 2021-22 academic year. If GRE scores are submitted or self-reported to the University of Washington, the Paul G. Allen School will not have access to reviewing them in our admissions process.

The University of Washington Graduate School requirement is a 3.0, and an applicant's prior gpa isn't necessarily something the admissions committee takes into consideration. Faculty are much more focused on the cumulative GPA for each degree earned, as well as the grades in computer science related-fields and other related coursework. The average GPA of admitted students has historically been 3.8 with GRE scores in the top 85% in each section. You can enter the grade reported on your transcript, or otherwise estimate, as there is no penalty for an incorrect answer. We will review all applications as long as they have a self-reported score. Additionally, the Allen School is fairly flexible when it comes to self-reporting GPAs from schools that do not use a 4.0 grading system. This last 90 graded quarter credits/60 graded semester credits GPA requirement is meant to capture the GPA for your most recent two years of study from a baccalaureate degree. Try to calculate your GPA across these last 90/60 credits as accurately as possible; however, if it's easier, you can just enter the cumulative GPA for your most recent graduate degree, instead.

The Allen School expects that most entering graduate students will have a solid background in software development, data structures, discrete math, automata theory, programming systems, computer systems and organization (e.g., see CSE courses 311, 331, 332, 351) and advanced knowledge of one or more computing topics. However, we welcome applications from students who may lack a portion of this background but show exceptional promise, and we accept a small number of such students each year.

That said, the method of acquiring these skills/knowledge does not have to be conventional, and students from all degree backgrounds are accepted. Every year we admit at least a small number of students who have a degree outside of STEM.

COVID-19 English Proficiency policies now include:
  • Applicants must have a minimum Duolingo English Test score of 105 for admission. Graduate programs may require a higher score, but may not petition a score below 105.
  • The Duolingo English Test cannot be used for Academic English Language Program (AEP) course placement. Students admitted with the Duolingo English Test will be required to take all sections of the UW AEP Placement Exam. Students who will receive a Teaching Assistantship will also be required to take the Versant in accordance with Memo 15.
  • Applicants can immediately request their official test scores be sent to University of Washington Graduate Admissions (Bothell, Seattle, Tacoma). We have updated the COVID-19 Graduate Admissions FAQs and posted a notice on Memo 8: Graduate School English Language Proficiency Requirements.
  • The Graduate School has also begun accepting the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition, available everywhere that TOEFL ibT is normally available with the exception of Mainland China and Iran.

Yes, all international applicants are required to verify their english language proficiency. Starting in 2020, applications now display the TOEFL MyBest scores. Applicants will be reviewed if they have self-reported scores, and then would need to be verifie with official scores before an admitted student is allowed to register. On our Required Materials page we attempt to cover the English Language Proficiency required at the University of Washington. If you will be able to qualify for an ELP exemption, then you can skip the English Proficiency section in the application

The minimum TOEFL score in order to qualified to apply is 80, and there is an additional minimum score in speaking to meet our TA requirements. Starting Summer 2021, the Graduate School accepts IELTS to meet ELP. Applicants with a minimum score of 6.5 meet the ELP threshhold. The Allen School Graduate team will be unable to determine if you meet the English Language Proficiency before you have submitted your application beyond what is covered in Memo 8. Please contact The Graduate School with any questions about exemptions.

The Allen School has only a full-time Ph.D. program with an integrated master's degree. We do not have a separate, full-time master's program as some other universities do. Admission is based on an applicant's potential to do research in computer science and to complete the Ph.D. Students can earn a master's degree at the time of qualifying evaluations, which determines whether a student should proceed to writing their dissertation. All applications are considered by the faculty admissions committee for the Ph.D. program only.

If you are interested in a Master's degree then the UW Bothell and UW Tacoma campuses both offer full-time master's programs.

We also have the pleasure of offering a Professional Master's Degree program to current industry professionals. The program requires applicants to have 2 years of industry experience before they are eligible. This Master's degree is the same official Master's that comes with our integrated Ph.D. program.

Students with an RA, TA, or Fellowship are required to be full-time in the PhD program. As such, satisfactory progress is expected to be consistent with a full-time focus on research and education work. Classes are taught during typical business hours, as are the research group meetings students need to participate in. In addition, there are concerns about privacy and proprietary information when navigating between an academic insitution and a business. We do understand that money is an important factor in deciding what to do next. That is why we offer guaranteed funding for our admited students.

Yes, you can apply to more than one (1) Ph.D. program at the University of Washington. You will need to submit two or more applications, depending on the number of programs you are applying to, and you will have to pay an separate application fee for each. Test scores and transcripts can be shared across departments, but Statements of Purpose, Letters of Recommendation, C.V.s, and so forth, will all have to be submitted to each department.

At this time, the University of Washington's application portal is not compatible with Interfolio. On the Allen School Required Materials page, there is information on how letters of recommendation are accepted through the portal. You may mail us letters of recommendation, if you must, but submissions via the application portal are preferred. Even if the letters are submitted in paper form, the recommenders' contact information needs to be entered into the online application; otherwise, there will be no place to upload the scanned copies.

Anyone is welcome to apply to the Paul G. Allen School, though transferring from another institution can be challenging. There is no formal transfer program, so it is likely you will have to repeat classes. We do have a course waiver appeal that admitted students can use in order to waive them out of certain course requirements. Each course is decided on an individual basis, and there is no guarantee that faculty evaluators will agree courses are similar enough. Most of the time when a student transfer into our Ph.D. program from another, they have to start all over again.

The Allen School tends not to offer admission to applicants who are seeking a second doctoral degree. There is no standardization across courses, and little incentive for standards to be developed, because of the flexibility of independent research. That is why it is important to choose to apply to the graduate schools that are right for you, and not just casting a wide-net and hoping for the best.

You may ask whomever you please to write your letters of recommendation, especially if they know you and your work well. 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 therefore we rely on faculty familiar with Ph.D. programs, research, and students. Choose your letter writers accordingly. Be sure to give them plenty of notice. Also choose recommenders who you know are going to write strong, individualized letters for you.

Since Autumn 2021 the Allen School has waived its GRE requirement and no longer need test scores in order to evaluate an application. There is still an option to self-report GRE scores, and the scores will not negatively impact a decision. The admissions committee does not review a lack of reported scores in the negative. The faculty has found that the GRE is not an appropriate metric in assessing who has potential to be a successful researcher.

Thank you for asking this important question. There are many unique attributes we offer in terms of faculty, research, and culture: We have nationally and internationally recognized faculty who are pushing the boundaries of core and emerging areas of our field; we have a national reputation for outstanding student mentoring, and our faculty and graduate students enjoy collegial and supportive working relationships; we provide a complete, high-quality curriculum along with leading-edge research opportunities; we offer a robust lineup of topical colloquia and distinguished lectures featuring established leaders and rising stars in the field; and we provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for international students, women, and other underrepresented groups.

Most graduates of the Allen School's Ph.D. program find employment in academic institutions (research/teaching or teaching), research labs (industry and academic), post-docs, start-ups and industry.

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Do you need to update your application? You can return to your UW application profile and upload unofficial transcripts, grade reports, and test scores. There is also the option to withdraw requests to letter writers, or send an official letter of recommendation request to a new recommender.

The Allen School graduate advising team offers one (1) courtesy update of your CV/resume and statement of purpose (inclusive). If you would like to note a new paper publications or acceptance, you may send one sentence to the contact email in the sidebar requesting it be added as a comment to your application.

Please be aware that admissions decisions are communicated by mid-February, so all materials should be submitted by January 1st in order to have time for full consideration. The Allen School Ph.D. program receives over 2500 applications and is committed to a holistic review process. Sometimes it is simply not possible to return to applications after they have received their initial assessment. The admission committee cannot offer any additional extensions.

Admission Highlights

The Graduate School has some impressive work over on their Application FAQs page. If you can't find an answer to your question here, then that would be the next place to check. If you are still unable to find an answer to your questions, please reach out to us at grad-admissions (at) cs (dot) washington (dot) edu. We will do our best to answer your question or help point you in the right direction.

The Allen School 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 waiting list.

A common question the Allen school receives from Ph.D. applicants is, "How Can I Improve my Application?". The best advice the team can provide is to consider a prepatory course. Below you will find a small collection of links to advice that is often shared amongst graduate students. These links are the personal experiences of the authors, and the Allen School is offering them only to share perspectives.

Preparatory Courses & Programs

GRDSCH200

The UW Graduate School offers a preparatory course (GRDSCH200) to juniors, seniors and non-matriculated post-BACC students from all majors and disciplines. Students taking the course apply to a wide range of schools and programs located all around the world. The course is Credit/No-credit and lasts for 10 weeks. The GRDSCH200 website describes the course as:

The course seeks to engage students in determining the right “fit” for their individual graduate education goals through three primary objectives:
  • Investigation: What is your desire to attend graduate school?
    • What you need to know about the graduate school experience
  • Revelation: What do graduate school admission committees actually expect
    • Demystify the process
    • Personal statements, resumes/CVs and letters of recommendation
  • Preparation: How does investigation and revelation lead to finding a “good fit,” and how do you chart a course of action?
    • Why do you want to go? When do you want to go? Where do you want to go?
    • What do you want to do? How can you do it?
Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program
First generation students often face additional challenges when considering graduate-level education. There is a nationa-wide program in the US that offers an immersive experience to assist these students with applying and preparing for graduate school called McNair Scholar. The McNair Scholars Program is a federal TRIO program funded at 151 institutions across the United States and Puerto Rico by the U.S. Department of Education. Students who participate in the McNair Scholar program are awarded funding, and many Universities within the US will waiver application fees. Visit the Council for Opportunity in Education's McNair website for more information on funding and a list of students who have participated in the program.

The UW Graduate School offers application fee waivers to U.S. residents who demonstrate financial need. The process for requesting a fee waiver from the UW Graduate School is available on their application page. The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering is unable to offer a traditional fee waiver. Instead the Allen School offers to use School funds to pre-pay the application fee of applicants who participate in approved programs.

This is an important distinction to explain the necessity of our process. The application fee is not removed for applicants, in this situation; Instead, The Allen School uses funding to pay the UW Graduate School on behalf of students appling to the Ph.D. program. For the 2020 deadline, the Allen School paid approximartely $20,000 USD in fees to the Graduate School.

Applicants who participate in the GEM Fellowship Program are eligible for the fee pre-payment program. Additionally, applicants who participate in groups/programs which focus on outreach as it relates to preparing students for computer science research careers may also be eligible. The list below outlines some of these programs, and you can email grad-admissions@cs for inquiries about any unlimited that you think may qualify.

In order to request pre-payment of the application fee, the applicant must first complete all required components of the application. Prior to submitting, email grad-admissions (at) cs (dot) washington (dot) edu with the following information at least seven (7) calendar days ahead of the application deadline (approximately December 6th):

Full Name
UW Graduate School Application ID Number
Proof of Program Participation
A PDF document using the following syntax for the file name: "Your name-date of application-conference or program name" (Les Sessoms-Nov 17 2020-GraceHopperConference). You may use your registration confirmation email, conference check-in confirmation, or other official document.

Application Pre-payment Approved Organizations + Conferences

Applicants requesting a 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.

If you are admitted to the program you will be asked to indicate on an online form that you will be relying on funding from the Allen School. You do not need to submit any financial information (such as bank statements), unless you fit specific criteria as an international student. International students should refer to the Graduate School's webpage on Admitted International Students for more information.

Assistantships

In exchange for 20 hours of work per week, Research/Teaching Assistants receive: (figures are current as of the 2020-2021 academic year)

  • Tuition waiver of all but approximately $327 per quarter in fees
  • Monthly stipend of $3,187 for beginning students
  • Health insurance (100% of premium for student, 65% of premium for dependents)

Fellowships

There are two major categories of fellowships: those that students can apply for directly, and those to which students must be nominated by faculty. Most students will be more interested in the first category, since these are the fellowships that they can actively seek for themselves. The Graduate School Fellowships Page

Prospective students are welcome to review our Research & Innovation page. There you will find information on the may Areas of Expertise at the UW-Seattle Campus. Each area has its own information page which is updated with the faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and staff involved in research. Graduate students and Postdocs are more likely to respond to a prospective student's inquiries, while faculty often are not. It is, in part, this reason that the Paul G. Allen School takes a different approach to the advisor/student relationship. We do not expect applicants to have previous interactions with our faculty, nor do they need to know who they want to spend their Ph.D.-life working with. All new grads are assigned a temporary faculty advisor based on availability, potential, funding, and several other factors. The student and advisor do not have to become "permanent" fixtures in each other's career until after the student's Qualifying examination.

If you are interested in finding out how to improve your application for a certain field or advisor, you are better-off contacting graduate students as they can be more frank with their recent experience of the process, and give more relevant advice than faculty and staff.

The University of Washington offers several benefits and leave options to graduate students in research, teaching, and graduate assistantship positions. Academic student employees (ASE) positions have work benefits defined by the ASE Contract. This contract is the result of a collective bargaining process between the Union of Academic Student Employees (UAW Local 4121), and the University of Washington.

Graduate Appointee Insurance Program (GAIP): ASEs receive health insurance coverage that covers medical, vision, and dental. You can read the UW HR summary here.

Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML): ASEs are eligible for paid medical and family leave after completing four calendar quarters of employment at the standard 50% appointment. PFML requests need to be the result of a “qualifying event.” You can read more about UW HR’s policy here.

Leave of Absence: The UW Graduate School has additional policies that allow graduate students to officially enter On-Leave status.. Students often use this option if they need a break for reasons not covered by the PFML policy. Students are eligible for this option after completing their first quarter of instruction. You can read more about the Graduate School’s On-Leave Policy here.

There may be additional policies for students using F-1 and J-1 visas so please contact the International Student Services office if you use one of these. There are also potential implications for your funding packages, so always consult your primary investigator (PI) and academic advisors before requesting On-Leave status.