Prospective Students

The cornerstone of our graduate program is a rigorous and competitive selection process, based on undergraduate performance, standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation. Recent statistics show that less than 15% of approximately 150 applicants are admitted every year to our graduate programs.  Of these, only a small percentage of individuals receive financial aid.

Candidates are advised to apply directly to the program best suited to their eventual academic goal. Students interested in pursuing research or academic careers should apply to the PhD program, while those seeking additional preparation for industrial careers should apply to the MCS program. Students applying to the PhD program who are not selected for admission will automatically be considered for admission to the MCS program if they do not already hold a master's degree.

Requirements for Admission

  • Admission to The University of Iowa. This is required prior to becoming a graduate student in the Computer Science Department. For admission information, please visit the University of Iowa's Admissions website. Please note:  Computer Science application deadlines are significantly earlier than those published by the Office of Admissions.The Computer Science Department's deadline for graduate admission is January 1 for fall admission. We do not accept applications for spring admission but may consider it for special circumstances. Director of Graduate Studies Professor Padmini Srinivasan heads the decision-making process on applicants requesting spring admission.
  • The completion of a four-year undergraduate degree (or its equivalent) from an accredited institution. (Students applying to the PhD program need not have a master's degree prior to admission. Those who do may apply for transfer credit of those courses towards the PhD program requirements; see Transfer Credits.)
  • A minimum 3.00 undergraduate grade point average on a four-point scale.  Graduate students in recent years had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.46 on a 4.00 scale.
  • Applicants to the PhD program, international or domestic, are required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test. Applicants to the MCS program are strongly encouraged, but not required, to submit GRE General Test scores. If the applicant does not have a degree in computer science, or the equivalent coursework to that of a computer science major, the GRE Computer Science Subject Test is recommended (but not required) as part of the admission process. (The GRE General Test scores of students admitted for fall 2010 averaged approximately 482 Verbal, 706 Quantitative, 3.5 Analytic Writing.)
  • A minimum TOEFL score of 81 for Internet-based testing or a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 (with no section score lower than 6.0) is required for international applicants whose native language is not English. However, students with TOEFL scores below 100 on Internet-based testing are generally not admitted. Exceeding these scores does not guarantee admission, and average scores of students who are awarded financial aid are significantly higher. All students submitting IELTS scores must also take an on-campus English Proficiency Evaluation prior to registration.
  • Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts, showing strong performance in the following key areas:
    • Math foundations (calculus, discrete math, probability, numerical analysis, etc.)
    • Programming (C, C++, Java) and programming language foundations
    • Data structures and algorithms
    • Software and hardware systems
  • Three letters of recommendation, written by persons who have direct knowledge of an applicant’s intellectual ability, motivation to study computer science, preparation for graduate school, creativity in research, capacity to work independently, and, if an international student, ability to speak and write English.
  • A statement of purpose indicating that the applicant understands the nature of the graduate program for which s/he is applying, and to perhaps express interest in a particular area of computer science.
  • A curriculum vitae or résumé.

We regret that we are unable to evaluate any individual’s probability of admission prior to formal application beyond the information already presented here.


Additional Information

For more information, or to read about Conditional Admission, Early Admission, Deferred Admission, Readmission, and Reconsideration, please see the Graduate Student Handbook.

You may also contact the Graduate Program Administrator:
Department of Computer Science
The University of Iowa
14 MacLean Hall
Iowa City, IA  52242-1419

Phone toll-free within Iowa: 1-800-272-6412, extension 5-0707
Phone toll-free outside of Iowa: 1-800-553-IOWA (4692), extension 5-0707