Frequently Asked Questions

Admissions Requirements

Are there any specific math courses that are required for admission?

Yes, the applicant's academic background should include at least three semesters of mathematics at the level of sophistication of calculus or above, courses such as calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability, statistics, and abstract algebra.

Are there any specific computer science courses that are required for admission?

The courses should include the equivalent of the following University of Colorado offerings:

  • Hardware Requirement - CSCI 2400, Computer Systems
  • Software Requirement - Any one of CSCI 3155, Principles of Programming Languages or CSCI 3753, Operating Systems
  • Theory Requirement - CSCI 2270, Computer Science 2: Data Structures and either CSCI 3104, Algorithms or CSCI 3434, Theory of Computation
  • Other Area Requirement - One upper division course (i.e., one at the junior/senior, 3000/4000 level) in another area of Computer Science. These areas include artificial intelligence, databases, numerical computation, parallel processing and software engineering.

See the Computer Science Course Catalog for a complete listing of courses.

I feel that I have a strong application; however I am missing some undergraduate prerequisites. What should I do?

If you are missing any undergraduate prerequisites, please fulfill them before applying. This can be done through a local college or via ACCESS - University of Colorado's continuing education program.

Can I fulfill undergraduate requirements with Be Boulder Anywhere courses?

No, Be Boulder Anywhere only provides graduate level coursework. 

Do I need a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science to be eligible for graduate admission?

No, but we do require a certain number of computer science courses before you may be considered. Please refer to the question above which covers required computer science courses.

I'm interested in obtaining both a Masters Degree and a PhD. Will the Graduate program allow me to obtain both?

Students wishing to get both MS and PhD degrees can apply to the PhD program and get the MS degree while enrolled in the PhD program. Alternatively students may apply to the MS program, and later on apply to the PhD program.

What is the difference between an MS and an ME?

The principle difference between the Master of Engineering and the Master of Science degrees is that the Master of Engineering degree does not require a residency on campus.

The ME is obtained through our distance-learning program called Be Boulder Anywhere. It is intended to meet the needs of those practicing engineers who are working full time outside the University.

It also allows participants to pursue an integrated program of studies by specializing in one engineering discipline and selecting courses from other engineering fields and business subjects related to the individual student's professional work. A successful program to meet these needs requires greater flexibility in operation than is normally possible or intended under the Master of Science degree program.

Admission requirements are the same for both the ME and the MS degree program.

What is the difference between the MS and MS with Data Science & Engineering (DSE) Sub-Plan?
MS in Computer Science MS in Computer Science with DSE Sub-Plan

While earning the MS in CS degree, you can choose between Option 1: Thesis Option or Option II: Non-thesis option (10 courses option).

While earning the MS/DSE degree in CS, you cannot opt for the Thesis option; this is a 10 course only degree plan.

You have to complete the breadth requirement by taking FOUR 5XXX CSCI courses from nine different areas listed at and getting a grade of B or better. The remaining SIX courses can be in any area.

If you are opting for the Thesis option, you will need to take at least 4 to a maximum of 6 MS Thesis credits. 

You have to complete the breadth requirement by taking FOUR 5XXX CSCI courses from nine different areas listed at and getting a grade of B or better.

 In addition to completing the breadth requirement, you have to also complete the DSE sub-plan requirements listed at and get a grade of B or better in all the DS and/or DE courses.

If TA or RA funding becomes available in the department you may be considered for funding.

Students under this sub-plan aren’t eligible for TA or RA funding.

This degree is for students interested in any CS field.

This degree is for only students interested in Data Science & Engineering

Tuition structure is different between these programs, Please refer to for more information on tuition that applies to your situation. Please check the “Engineering” column for tuition rate.

Tuition structure is different between these programs, Please refer to for more information on tuition that applies to your situation. Please check the “Engineering Professional Masters” column for tuition rate.

What is Be Boulder Anywhere?

Be Boulder Anywhere is our distance-learning program. It delivers graduate courses taught on the Boulder campus to business, industry, and government agencies asynchronously via the Internet for streaming or downloading. Engineers, computer scientists and technical managers may earn a Master’s degree in Engineering without driving to campus.

Can I enroll in individual Be Boulder Anywhere courses, separate from the ME program?

Yes, simply visit the Be Boulder Anywhere website for more information. 

Can I obtain a PhD through a distance-learning program?

No, the PhD program must be completed in person. It is designed to build a research relationship with the professor and is not conducive to online curricula.

Is there a minimum GPA I should have?

Applicants should have a grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a scale of 4.0). However, acceptance is not solely based on GPA. We look at the entire application to evaluate the candidate. Applicants with an average below 3.0 and above 2.75 and applicants lacking certain of the admission requirements listed above, if accepted, can only be accepted as provisional degree students.

If I am admitted as provisional degree, when will the provisional status be removed?

Provisional status is usually lifted after 1 year. 

Are the GREs required for admission?

For the Master’s degree, the General GRE is only required if your GPA is lower than a 3.0. If you come from a lesser-known university, it is recommended that you submit General GRE scores. The General GRE is required for all PhD applicants, but there is no set limit for a minimum score. We encourage you to do your best. If you would like to be considered for financial aid, then it is required that you take the General GRE.

Are the GMATs or subject GREs required for admission to the graduate program?

Neither the GMAT nor the subject GREs are required for admission. If you feel that you are lacking in certain areas (for example, if you have a GPA below a 3.0 or received your BA from a lesser known university), then taking the subject GRE is recommended.

ETS has suspended the GRE computer-based General test in Asia, adopting again the paper test. Is your department still accepting the computer-based test scores?

We are accepting computer-based scores that were taken before the suspension of the GRE computer-based General test.

ETS has canceled the GRE Computer Science Subject Test in Asia this year. Will my not having the GRE subject test have any impact on my application for your school?

We do not require the GRE subject test, so there would be no impact on your application.

Deadlines & Deferments

When does the Computer Science Department offer admission?

The Computer Science Department offers admission for the Fall semester each year.

What is the application deadline for the MS and ME programs?

For maximum consideration, applications for the MS or ME programs should be received by December 15.

What is the application deadline for the PhD program?

For maximum consideration, PhD applications should be received by December 15.


What are the deadlines for international students?

For international students applying to both the ME/MS and PhD programs, the deadline is December 15.

Does the deadline for applications refer to the postmark date or the date by which the application must be received?

Deadlines for graduate admission refer to the date by which the application must be received.


I am an international student and am concerned that my application may arrive late due to our slow national mail system. What should I do?

Remember, applications must be received by the deadlines stated, not a postmarked date, so please take that into consideration when preparing your packet. However, we do recognize that mail delays for foreign students can be considerable, and will try to accommodate packets that are late.

I have still not received my scores from ETS. Should I send in my application without the scores or wait until I receive them?

Yes, send in your application "as-is," and then forward your ETS scores once they arrive. We will try our best to give your application full consideration even if one or two of your scores do not arrive until after the deadline.

How do I request a deferment?

We process deferments on an individual basis: we do not have a fixed policy. Once you are admitted, please let us know your status and we will try our best to accommodate you.

Evaluating the Application Packet

What criteria do you look for in an applicant?

The admissions committee in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Colorado considers many factors when deciding whether or not to admit an applicant. These factors include, but are not limited to, grades, scores on standardized tests, letters of recommendations, prior experience, and quality of other applicants. Without formally evaluating your application it is impossible for us to say whether or not you would be admitted to the department.

I have applied before. Do I need to resubmit everything?

You will need to submit your application forms again including the application fees. On your application you should indicate that you have applied to our department before. You need not, however, resubmit your letters of recommendation or test scores (provided that your test scores are still valid and your previous application was within one year of your current application deadline). If you wish to use the scores and/or recommendations from a previous application, please indicate that by attaching a note to your application.

How many credits does each course have?

Typically three, although some courses may have more or less. 

How many credits are considered a full load for a semester?

As far as the university is concerned, you need to take at least 5 credits (or dissertation credits) each term to be considered full time. A "full" load is usually three courses a semester.

In the case where someone has taken the GRE more than once, which score do you look at?

Generally, we look more closely at the latest score; however there is no set rule as we evaluate everything in the application packet.

Transferring Credits and Class Availability to Non-CS Students

I am currently a graduate student at another university. How do I go about applying for transfer admission to CU?

Simply follow the guidelines applicable to regular graduate admission. However, please also be cognizant of our credit transfer policy, described below.

I am not a registered Computer Science student. Is it possible to take individual classes being offered in the department?

Yes, you can take classes through our distance-learning program, called CAETE, or you can take them through ACCESS, part of Continuing Education. ACCESS allows non-registered students to take classes in the Computer Science Department. Registration is highly dependent on availability and cannot be done until the day before or the first day of class, per the instructor's approval.

I am currently a student at another campus within the University of Colorado system. However, I am applying to transfer to CU-Boulder. Can I take classes while I await admission?

Yes, you may take classes, through CAETE or ACCESS. But please note that all credits earned will count as transfer credits because the CAETE and ACCESS courses are evaluated on a different basis.

Is there a limit on the number of courses or credits I can transfer?

Yes, in general, we accept up to three 3-credit classes, so a maximum of 9 credits for Master's students. For PhD students, we accept up to 21 credits. For credits to transfer, you must be a registered Computer Science student and apply by writing a petition. Graduate level Computer Science courses that match up to our curriculum, in general, should not have a problem transferring. (Please note that this is not a guarantee.)


What are the available opportunities for financial aid?

Research Assistantships (RA) - A research assistant works closely with one or more faculty in performing research. Assistantships cover tuition and provide a stipend to cover living and other expenses. For PhD students, both the TA and RA positions cover tuition and provide a stipend. For MS students, TA positions may only cover part of the tuition, while RA positions cover the full tuition. Teaching Assistantships (TA) - Teaching assistants teach or assist in teaching a course. Teaching assistantships provide a stipend and full or partial tuition support (depending on the assistantship).

How do I apply for Research or Teaching Assistantships?

To apply for either position, check the appropriate box on your application form. In addition, if you are interested in an RA we recommend that you contact specific faculty in our department in research areas of your interest. See Funding Opportunities for information on our faculty and resources for identifying funding opportunities.

Will I be able to become a Research Assistant my first semester?

Incoming PhD students are offered Teaching Assistantships rather than Research Assistantships, since Research Assistantships are essentially an arrangement between a professor (with a research grant) and a student. If you would like to get an RA starting from your first term, please directly contact the professors that are doing research in your area of interest. If you are not sure what area you want to do your research in, it is best to enter as a TA and take courses and independent study until you decide what you like best. See Funding Opportunities for a list of anticipated opportunities for this Fall.

Financial aid is not guaranteed for Masters students. We suggest that you speak with a professor in your area of interest upon acceptance.

Do I need a specific financial aid application?

The Computer Science Department does not have a specific financial aid application. Simply, indicate that you are or are not interested in receiving financial aid on your application.

What other funding opportunities are available?

We have several ways to help you with funding. They include:

  • Fellowships - We help our students apply for and secure fellowships from foundations, industry, and government.
  • Internships - We help our students secure summer internships at leading high-tech companies. Boulder County's large high-tech industry also provides convenient local opportunities for students.
  • Conference Travel Support - Both the Department of Computer Science and the Graduate School provide multiple awards each year to support student attendance at high-quality research conferences.
  • Local Industry - Boulder County has a large and rapidly growing high-tech industry, with companies such as Sun Microsystems, HP, IBM, Seagate, and Level 3, as well as smaller companies and startups providing additional opportunities for our graduate students and faculty.

With occasional exceptions, the above opportunities are available to all students, including international students.

Are the GREs required for financial aid?

Yes, the GREs are required if you are applying to the PhD program and would like to be considered for financial aid.