Admissions

The admission requirements spelled out below apply to the MS, ME, and the PhD programs. Applicants should be aware that admission is very competitive, and that meeting the requirements does not guarantee admission.

Admission to the PhD program is especially competitive and successful applicants will, in general, have records considerably stronger in breadth or quality than these minimum standards suggest.

PhD applicants with a very strong background in areas other than computer science are encouraged to apply. (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.)

Applicants for graduate study in computer science must hold at least a bachelor's degree or its equivalent from an institution comparable to the University of Colorado. They should have considerable programming experience, a number of computer science courses, and sufficient mathematical maturity to understand pure mathematics courses at the upper division (junior/senior) level.

Mathematics Courses

The applicant's academic background should include at least three semesters of mathematics at the level of sophistication of calculus or above. Examples of such courses such are calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability, statistics, and abstract algebra. The courses should indicate that the applicant has achieved the mathematical maturity expected of an upper-level mathematics undergraduate.

Computer Science Courses

At least five one-semester courses in Computer Science that are beyond the introductory level are required. These are intended to demonstrate the applicant's breadth of basic Computer Science knowledge in the areas of computer hardware, software, and theory. 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.

More advanced versions of all courses are acceptable. Courses classified in the Other Area Requirement may occasionally be substituted for courses classified in the Hardware, Software or Theory Requirement. However, the courses in the Hardware, Software and Theory Requirements are prerequisites to many of the graduate-level offerings and applicants who are admitted lacking their equivalent will usually be required to make them up.

Grade Point Average 

Applicants should have a grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a scale of 4.0). Applicants having the listed qualifications will, if accepted, be classified as regular degree students. However, admission to the graduate programs is competitive, and a grade point average at this level will not ensure admission. 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.

GRE Scores

PhD applicants are required to submit scores from the general GRE. Scores are only valid for 5 years. GRE scores for MS applicants are optional. In general they are encouraged if the work is at an institution lacking a strong national reputation and are required if the undergraduate grade point average is below 3.0 and above 2.75. 

See GRE revised General Test for more information. You may also contact the GRE Helpline to get answers to your questions about the revised test.