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 programming experience, a number of computer science courses and sufficient mathematical maturity to understand pure mathematics courses at the upper division (junior/senior) level.
The Department of Computer Science welcomes PhD applications from interdisciplinary backgrounds. Students interested in a CS PhD but whose backgrounds fall outside the core CS areas are highly encouraged to apply. We also highly encourage such students to identify areas and faculty members they wish to work with and/or get in touch with the faculty directly through email. Research area match is the most important factor in PhD admissions.
Your 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 you have achieved the mathematical maturity expected of an upper-level science, engineering, or mathematics undergraduate.
Computer Science Courses
If you're missing any of these prerequisites, our online post-baccalaureate in Applied Computer Science offers classes that can help you prepare for graduate study. Learn More
At least three one-semester courses in computer science that are beyond the introductory level are required for MS admissions and highly recommended for PhD admissions. These are intended to demonstrate your 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)
More advanced versions of all courses are acceptable. The courses in the Hardware, Software and Theory Requirements are prerequisites to many of the graduate-level offerings, so it’s important to complete these to be considered for graduate admissions. Admission without these prerequisites or their equivalents may be considered under extraordinary circumstances only.
Grade Point Average
You must 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. Competitive applications to PhD and CSEN-MS (research based MS) degree typically have a 3.5 or higher GPA and competitive applications to CSEN-MSCPS (course based MS) have a 3.3 or higher GPA.
GRE scores are not required for admissions to CSEN graduate degrees at CU Boulder.