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.

In response to current restrictions created by the COVID-19 health crisis, the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering will temporarily waive the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) requirement for Ph.D. admissions during the 2020-21 academic year. This means that reporting GRE scores will be optional for those applying to start in Autumn 2021.

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.

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.

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 been 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. The IELTS is not accepted by The Graduate School, and therefore the Allen School does not as well. 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.

The minimum score in order to qualified to apply is 80, and there is an additional minimum score in speaking to meet our TA requirements. 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 unoffical 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 all decisions are completed by the end of January/beginning of February, so everything should be submitted by at least January 1st, to be considered. The Allen School Ph.D. program receives over 2500 applications. The Ph.D. program is committeed to a holistic review process every application is reviewed by at least one (1) set of human eyes, 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.

The Graduate School provides a great FAQ which addresses your question. The Tests sctions states: If you previously sent your test scores to the University of Washington, you will not need to re-send them. These scores are retained on file and can be used for a future application, assuming they are still valid.
Right now there is no option for informal auditing. Students will need to register for any courses they wish to have access to. This is a FERPA regulation. Students can request their grade option to be changed to audit by using this Registration Transaction form. Time conflicts can also be handled via said form. Even if you are added to the Canvas or ED courses manually, you will be kicked out every day.
The Allen School allows for some students to take Allen School 500-level courses even if they are not a currently enrolled Ph.D. student (otherwise known as a 'non-major'). These studen-types include: The Paul G. Allen School Ph.D. program does not accept Graduate Non-matriculated (GNM) students.

In order to request enrollment into one of our courses, should you be in the above classifications, you will need to fill out an enrollment petition. The petition is updated every quarter, so be sure you are submitting your petition when the title reflects the correct term.

The priority deadline is when we'll begin issuing add codes. You may not hear about your petition until the end of the first week of the quarter.
Quarter Petition Opens Priority Deadline Petition Closes
Autumn June 7th September 7th October 4th
Winter December 1st December 21st January 11th
Spring March 8th March 25th April 5th
This petition is only for 500-level classes, and you are not guaranteed a space because you petitioned. You may not receive an add code for several reasons, including but not limited to, lack of seating in the class, instructor preference to keep their course to Allen School Ph.D. students, or not having background skill suitable for the course. We try to send out add codes the first week of the term; please be patient. Email inquiries about when you'll receive an answer may not be responded to. Current CSE Ph.D. students are given priority in our course offerings.

If you are a NM student and you are given an add code, you'll need to submit two forms to the UW. The Allen School uses DocuSign to complete the NM Student Registration Approval Form. You will need to input your information, and then you will receive an email asking you to complete and sign the form. One of the Allen School grad advisors will obtain the correct signature, and you'll be notified by DocuSign when the petition has been completed. Please do not initiate multiple forms. If you are not receiving emails from DocuSign, contact grad-admisssion@cs for assistance. You do not need a DocuSign account to initiate or sign the forms.
In order to take CSE 519 or 520 as a non-major student (any student who is not a Ph.D. CSE student) you will need to be engaged in research with a CSE faculty member. If you are not familiar with CSE faculty, then please consult your program's advisors or your own faculty advisor to see if they can make an introduction for you. Due to FERPA regulations, students cannot unofficially audit these courses. Students will need to register and then submit a grade option change form to the registrar.

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 offers to pre-pay the application fee for applicants who participate in certain programs. Please see the next tab labled "Application Pre-payment" for more information.

The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering offers to pre-pay the application fee for applicants who participate in the GEM Fellowship Program and our Pre-Application Review Service (PARS), detailed below. Applicants who participate in groups or programs which focus on outreach as it relates to preparing students for computer science research careers may also be eligible. In order to request pre-payment of the fee, the applicant must first complete all required components of the application. Prior to submitting, email grad-admissions (at) cs.washington.edu with the following information at least seven (7) calendar days ahead of the application deadline:

  • Full Name
  • UW Graduate School Application ID Number
  • Proof of Program Participation

Pre-Application Review Service (PARS)

The Pre-Application Review Service (PARS) assists applicants to the University of Washington's CS Ph.D. program. An Allen School Ph.D. student/postdoc volunteer will give one round of meaningful feedback on a prospective applicant's resume/CV and statement of purpose. Members of underrepresented communities and related organizations and conferences are strongly encouraged to submit to PARS!

Submissions will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis until November 8 (11:59 pm PST). Please submit a complete first draft of your application materials via this form. PARS volunteers aim to respond within a couple of weeks of submission, and by November 16 (11:59 pm PST) at the latest. Submitting to PARS does not guarantee feedback, as we may close this form early if volunteer feedback capacity is reached.

The Application fee for the Allen School Ph.D. program will be pre-paid for prospective applicants receiving support through PARS. The deadline for the application to the Allen School CS Ph.D. program is December 15 (11:59 pm PST). Participation in PARS is completely separate from the official application process and therefore does not guarantee admission to the Allen School. The volunteer providing feedback won't review official applications from the same individuals. Participation won't be disclosed to the admissions committee or faculty. Information will be aggregated and anonymized to evaluate the impact of this program, but individual responses will be deleted at the end of this application cycle.

If you have any questions about PARS, please email grad-admissions@cs.washington.edu.

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.

Please refer to our Ph.D. student handbook for details on funding.

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.

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 on an online form that you will be relying on funding from the Allen School.

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.