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.

Mathematics Courses

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 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 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)
  • 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, human centered computing, programming languages, databases, systems and networking, theory of computing, 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. 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 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. The average GPA of our accepted pool has been 3.65.

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. Typical GRE scores of admitted applicants are 157 verbal (or 560 verbal using old scoring) and 161 quantitative (or 775 quantitative using old scoring).

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.