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.

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 (admitting in Autumn 2022). If GRE scores are submitted or self-reported to the University of Washington, the Paul G. Allen School admissions committee will not have access to reviewing them.

Summary of Required Materials

This is a brief list of materials you'll be required to submit through the application portal. The panels below can be expanded and include information regarding formatting guidelines, screenshots of the application portal, and other descriptions of how the materials are used.

  1. Transcript from prior degree demonstrating minimum GPA (3.0)
  2. ELP Test Score (If applicable; See Graduate School Minimum Requirements)
  3. GRE (Optional)
  4. Letters of Recommendation (3)
  5. Statement of Purpose
    • An approximately 1,000 word (max 500 KB) statement. Your submission will be refactored to plain-text, so don’t spend much time on formatting.
  6. Curriculum Vitae (CV) You can upload a PDF, Word, or plain text file.
  7. Application Fee: $85 paid online

Reusing Application Materials

The Graduate School provides a great FAQ which addresses questions regarding reusing application materials (as well as numerous other questions).

The Tests sections 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.

You will still need to submit a statement of purpose and three (3) letters of recommendation via the application portal. You can choose to reuse your statement of purpose if you would like; However, it we recommend revising your statement, at the very least. We are not able to transfer previous statements of purpose or recommendation letters from prior years.

All applicants to the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering Ph.D. program must submit their application using the University of Washington’s online Graduate School Application. The Graduate School maintains a central application platform for the University of Washington, which includes a main repository for GRE and TOEFL scores. If you have technical questions about the application, or problems that arise when using the application system, then The Graduate School would be your best point of contact.

The UW has two categories of graduate application materials. The first category contains the materials the UW Graduate School has deemed a suitable admission metric, and the second consists of materials that the Allen School uses. This is an important distinction because it means applicants do not need to send their official transcripts, official GRE scores, or establish their English Language Proficiency (Memo 8) until they are offered admission to the program. An applicant will not be able to accept the position, or register for courses, until the Graduate School has verified they meet the minimum requirements. The Paul G. Allen School is unable to grant exceptions or make decisions concerning these requirements.

A Graduate School Profile is created when applying to any graduate program at the University of Washington, across the three (3) campuses. This is the first step to any program admission. Prospective students should review the Graduate School's webpages regarding the admission process to understand what this ruling body focuses on versus what the Allen School is invested in.

Graduate School Profile information is stored indefinitely and this profile should be used every time you wish to be enrolled in a graduate program at the UW. You should approach this part as a permanent representation of “You” in the Graduate School system and it should contain the most truthful information at the time you are applying.

Visual depiction of the Graduate School Profile page

The Allen School is an R1-rated research public University, and our application process is focused on a holistic assessment of a student's potential to do research. Prospective students are welcome to review our Research & Innovation page. There you will find information on the many 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.

The application has a Supplemental Questions section where if you are confident that you'd like to work with any particular faculty member(s), you may indicate their name(s). This question won't affect your chances of admission, rather it will help us to sensibly route applications during the review process. Please only list their full first and last name, and double-check for typos before submitting. For a list of faculty and a description of their research, see our faculty directory.

The UW Graduate School has established UW-wide minimum requiremnts for admission into graduate programs.

The Graduate School requires a Bachelor's degree, at the minimum. They are the only ones who can estbalish if your degree is valid or acceptable. Please contact the Gradaute School about whether your degree meets the minimum requirement, as the Allen School staff is unable to make that determination. Enter your degree information into the provided fields as best as you can, as it won’t affect your application. The admissions committee for the Allen School looks at the unofficial transcripts submitted, and not the classifications entered into this part of the application.

The Allen School does not require prospective students to have a Computer Science, or related, degree. Please review the FAQ section for GRE, GPA, Degrees & Computing Background for more information.

The Allen School has established an overarching policy to provide the appropriate amount of flexibility when assessing grades earned during the COVID-19 pandemic. If the admission committee has questions concerning any element pertaining to COVID-19 on your application materials, you will be contacted by the appropriate advisor before a final decision is made.

The requirement from the Gradaute School is students must have a 3.0 GPA. Graduate programs may consider an applicant with a GPA below a 3.0., and the program can submit an admission petition to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval before an offer is made. The Allen School faculty is more interested in the cumulative GPA for each degree earned, as well as the grades in computer science related-fields and other related coursework.

You can enter the grade reported on your transcript, or otherwise estimate, as there is no penalty for an incorrect answer. The Allen School admissions committee 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.

In addition to the Help text available on the application, the Graduate School provides tools for calculating GPA.

English Language Proficiency (ELP), outlined here on the Graduate School's Memo 8, does not need to be demonstrated during the initial review process. This requirement becomes relevant after an applicant is offered admission.

Accepted ELP tests are outlined on the Graduate School Admissions FAQ under the Tests section. A COVID-19 Admissions FAQ, that includes information on how test score submission functions during the pandemic and options that are available to applicants, is outlined in the blue box below.

A non-native English speaker can mark their undergraduate institution's medium of instruction as being in English to qualify for an exemption. Once the application is submitted, you will be prompted to upload a form establishing the medium of instruction. Visual example of upload prompt Applicants who do not select “Medium of Instruction” will not have this upload prompt. If you do not receive the prompt, and you think you should, or if you meant to select this option but didn't, please contact the Graduate School.

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. Applications display the TOEFL MyBest by default.
  • The Duolingo English Test cannot be used for Academic English Language Program ( AEP, ENGL 102, 103, 104) 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).
  • The Graduate School has also started accepting the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition, available everywhere that TOEFL ibT is normally available with the exception of Mainland China and Iran.

A brief summary of the ELP requirement: If your TOEFL score is < 80, then you will not be reviewed for admission. A score greater than but equal to 80 and below 92 (80<=score<92) will require the applicant to satisfactorily complete 1 to 3 UW Academic English Program (AEP) courses. A score > 92 means the applicant has satisfied the UW’s ELP requirement. If you are an international student, please review The Graduate School’s International Applicant Information page.

Additionally, The Allen School believes in the value of teaching, and finds it to be an important component of research; therefore, we require our Ph.D. students to TA for at least two (2) quarters during their time in the program. There are additional ELP requirements for Teaching Assistantships ( Memo 15). If you meet the minimum TOEFL score of 80, but your speaking score is below 26, you can still be admitted to the Ph.D. program; You would be required to pass an appeal interview or take English 105 in your first quarter at UW. Please allow us to reiterate that ELP is not considered as part of the Allen School review process.

The Statement of Purpose serves as a narrative for your achievements, and not as a reiteration of the information provided by your test scores, transcripts, and Curriculum Vitae. It is important to cultivate a Statement of Purpose that paints a picture of your potential and passion, and how your past experiences have built up your skills to create a path to success. The following exerpt from the UW English department website is great advice on how to approach a statement of purpose when applying to University programs.
Test scores, grades and degrees, institutions of previous study and personal recommendations are all important[/used as] indicators of an applicant's future success. However, these data do not reveal much about the individual, their motivation, why the applicant is interested in that particular program, or whether the applicant is the kind of student the Faculty want around the department. The Statement of Purpose exists to allow applicants to convey something personal about themselves and to convince the Faculty making the admissions selection that the applicant is an especially attractive candidate.

The Statement of Purpose should not relate a life story or flatter either the applicant or intended readers. It provides applicants the opportunity to present information that is not conveyed through objective data, in a clear, direct, and concise way, to explain their interests, motivations, goals and special talents. It must be honest.

Your Statement of Purpose should be approximately 1,000 words. The submission will be refactored to plain-text, so don’t spend much time on formatting. The application prompt for the Statement of Purpose is as follows:

Submit a personal statement of that includes: a) how you became interested in doing research, b) a relevant project or research experience that shows your technical knowledge and skill, and c) your plans for the future in computer science. You may wish to include information about what you feel are the strengths of your application, such as special interests and abilities, or give explanations for what you feel are any weaknesses in your academic record.If you have background that might particularly contribute to the intellectual and social enrichment of the program, please describe it. Examples include unique educational or cultural opportunities (or lack of them), social and economic disadvantages that you may have had to overcome, and interesting or unusual influences on your intellectual development.

Please note that we are proactive in handling partner situations in the admissions review process, so please let us know if such a situation exists and we will help if we can.

Letters of Recommendation are a pivotal component to the application process. It is one of the first ways the admission committee determine if a prospective student has demonstrated basic skills that a successful independent researcher posseses. The type of program that a student is interested in effects the type of letter of recommenation they should be submitting. Since the Allen School is a research-oriented Ph.D. program, a letter detaliing an applicant's academic performance in the course is not going to garner as much merit as a letter that discusses that student's ability to act independently, their creativity and innovation, and their involvement in research-oriented projects. This link is a document written by the UW Career Center that briefly covers academic letters of recommendation.

The Allen School requires three (3) letters of recommendation, with a max of five (5). You can submit more than 3, but we find that is not often beneficial for the applicant. The Graduate School application portal is responsible for collecting letters of recommendation, and prospective students cannot use third-party tools to submit. Interfolio is not supported by The Graduate School application portal. Recommendation letters can arrive after the deadline. Our application system is capable of accepting letters that arrive after this date. We try to make all decisions by the end of January, so your letters should be submitted by at least January 1st, to be considered.

Visual Interface Reference for submitting letters of recommendation
You will be asked to enter online the names and contact information (e.g., affiliation, email, phone) for your references and then to activate a request for a letter of recommendation. Your recommender will receive an email with a link that they then use to upload their letter.
Visual Interface Reference for editing recommenders
Applicants can return to the portal, even after the application has been submitted, to edit their recommender list. In order to change recommender info, applicants must withdraw the letter request and re-enter the contact information.
The Curriculum Vitae is a running record of your academic achievements and experiences. The typical length of a CV is 3-6 pages. The UW Career Center has provided a PDF with best practices and an example for developing a comprehensive document. The application portal accepts PDF, Word, or plain text files.