Table of Contents
You must already have a Bachelors degree, preferably in CS or similar fields.
You may still apply if you have a Bachelors degree in an unrelated field, but need to demonstrate you have an equivalent background to match the majority of the prerequisite courses required for admission. See the other questions below for more details.
We are specifically looking for background in the following areas (either through coursework, work experience, or research experience):
- High-Level Programming (CS 110)
e.g. C, Python
- Object-Oriented Programming (CS 112)
e.g. Java, C++, C#, Objective-C
- Data Structures and Algorithms (CS 245)
- Computer Architecture (CS 315) -or- Operating Systems (CS 326)
- Linear Algebra and Probability (MA 201)
- Discrete Math (MA 202)
The following are recommended but not required for admission:
- Compilers (CS 414) -or- Programming Languages (CS 345)
- Calculus and Analytic Geometry (MA 109)
Those who have not fulfilled all of the above requirements will still be considered for admission, but may have less competitive applications.
Yes, you may still apply as long as you have an equivalent background to match the majority of the prerequisite courses required for admission. This may be through extensive work experience in software development, or by taking equivalent courses at other institutions (such as state universities or community colleges). We also consider extensive academic and research experience if you already have other graduate degrees.
Whether or not you have a formal CS background, you need to be prepared to take and pass the same set of core courses as everyone else if admitted.
It is feasible for students already in the United States to take some of our undergraduate CS courses as a visiting student. However, many of these courses have prerequisites and our undergraduate majors have registration priority. We cannot guarantee space in those courses, or admission into our program.
We plan to restart our "MSCS Bridge" program specifically designed for applicants without a CS background in the near future, but the program is currently on hold and not accepting applicants.
We will accept three-year Bachelors degrees from international applicants for admission review.
You may still apply if you have a Bachelors degree in an non-CS field, but need to demonstrate you have an equivalent background to match the majority of the prerequisite courses required for admission.
Yes, please include transcripts for all other degrees and courses completed in your application, and describe any research projects you worked on in your essay. Demonstrating you are a strong student through extensive academic and research experience can make up for missing background.
Yes, we consider work experience related to software development. Please include this experience on your experience on a resume or curriculum vitae, and describe the projects you worked on (with the languages and tools you used) in your essay.
While experience with those languages can help strengthen your application, they do not count as high-level or object-oriented programming languages for the required background.
We prefer to see transcripts from state-level universities or community colleges for the prerequisite courses required by our degree, but elective courses taken at places like Coursera, Udacity, or EdX will help strengthen your application.
(back to top)
All applicants must provide transcripts, two letters of recommendation, general GRE test scores, and complete an essay or statement of purpose. Applicants may optionally include an additional letter of recommendation, and a resume or curriculum vitae. See the How to Apply page for more.
International applicants must provide additional documentation, such as a Certification of Finances, TOEFL or IELTS test scores, and transcript translations. See the International Graduate Students page for more.
There is no strict GPA (grade point average) requirement for admission to the graduate program. However, applicants with a GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a scale of 4.0) will have more competitive applications and a higher chance of receiving a scholarship.
Yes, you may still apply if you have a low GPA. Please address your GPA in your essay and provide an argument that, if admitted, you will be able to maintain the minimum 3.0 GPA necessary for our graduate program.
The general GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is required for all applicants. International applicants must also provide a TOEFL or IELTS score. Waivers are possible—please see the other questions for the waiver policies and minimum expected scores.
We highly encourage all applicants to take the GRE test. However, it is possible to waive the GRE requirement if you have exceptional professional or academic experience.
To receive this waiver, please start the application in the system and send an email to the graduate advisor at email@example.com with your resume and application number.
Yes. For details on the waiver policy for TOEFL or IELTS scores, please see the International Graduate Students page (look for the Exception Policy listed under Test Scores). Please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions for questions.
The USF school code for the TOEFL and the GRE is 4850.
The average quantitative GRE score of our Fall 2014 cohort is 164. Applications with a quantitative score below 155 are not competitive. The minimum analytical writing score is 3.5 for non-native English speakers. The verbal GRE score is not considered in the admission process.
The USF school code for the TOEFL and the GRE is 4850.
The average TOEFL score of our Fall 2014 cohort is 86. The minimum required TOEFL score is 79.
No, you need at least two letters of recommendation. Applications missing this requirement will not be reviewed.
Yes, you can send in a recommendation letter from a supervisor (but not colleague). However, we recommend at least one recommendation letter be from a professor if possible.
(back to top)
Applications are submitted online. Please see the Apply Now page for details. We do not accept applications mailed directly to our department.
You can check the status of your application by logging into your online application account. You will also receive an email when an admission decision is posted.
Submitted and completed applications are reviewed by the MSCS Admission Committee, which is chaired by the graduate director. The entire application is considered during review, including transcripts, test scores, recommendation letters, and the essay. We typically begin reviewing applications in late December and early January. During that time, it usually takes between 4 to 6 weeks for an admission decision to be made.
Unsubmitted or incomplete applications remain in the Office of Graduate Programs, and are not reviewed until the application is submitted, all of the letters of recommendation are received, and the application is marked as complete.
We usually begin accepting applications for Fall admission in September, but do not begin reviewing applications until much later. We do not admit students for the Spring semester.
We typically begin reviewing applications in late December and early January.
The application deadline for Fall admission is March 1st. We do not admit students for the Spring semester.
Yes, we will consider applications until the program is full and maintain a waitlist until mid-summer. Please note that international applicants should apply early so that there is ample time for the visa application process.
No, only submitted and completed applications are reviewed for admission. Submitted but incomplete applications are not reviewed for admission. Please check your application status frequently, and contact the Office of Graduate Programs if you have any questions.
Please contact the Office of Graduate Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences with application questions.
(back to top)
The MSCS program is 36 units. You can find the latest per-unit tuition cost and fees at the Financial Aid and Tuition page. (Look under "Graduate Programs" and the "Arts and Sciences" heading.)
See Financing Your Education for more information on scholarship options, the Financial Aid for Graduate Programs page for more information on financial aid, and One Stop Tuition and Billing for more information on payment options, payment plans, and payment policies.
Living expenses include rent, food, transportation, and utilities such as electricity and gas. Most students choose to live off-campus, but limited on-campus housing is available. See Housing for Graduate Students for more information. You can see an estimate for on-campus or off-campus living expenses at the Understanding the Cost of Attendance page.
Yes, the MSCS program awards several merit-based scholarships every year. See Financing Your Education for more information.
The MSCS program do not offer any need-based scholarships or awards. However, there are on-campus positions, off-campus positions, and several other financial aid options that can offset the cost of the program. See Financing Your Education for more information.
We automatically consider all applicants, including domestic and international applicants. There is not a separate application for scholarships.
Being a full-time student is like a full-time job. However, some students are able to work part-time during the academic year or full-time during the summer to gain experience and offset the costs of tuition. There are no restrictions for domestic students, but international students must check their visa restrictions first. See the Practicum Option for more information.
(back to top)
Applicants who require an F-1 student visa must demonstrate that they (and/or other sponsors in their home country) can fund their educational and living expenses in the United States. To verify this requirement, applicants must complete a Certification of Finances form with the online application to the program. See the International Graduate Students page for more details.
In general, applicants must complete the Certification of Finances before their application will be considered for review. For questions about the Certification of Finances, please contact the Office of Graduate Programs or International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).
As an international student, you will enter the United States for studies by applying for an F1 or J1 student visa. Most international students study in the program on an F1 visa. Once you receive your I-20, you should apply for a student visa right away. Note that some students must try several times before successfully obtaining a visa.
If you are already in the United States on a different visa (e.g. H1B), you may choose to remain on your current visa or change to an F1 visa.
No, receiving a scholarship from USF does not influence the ability to obtain a visa. We encourage you to apply for a visa as soon as you receive your I-20. Students may need to try several times before successfully obtaining a visa, so we encourage students to try multiple times if necessary.
Yes, international students are eligible and automatically considered for all MSCS scholarships. See Financing Your Education for details.
The majority of international students are able to work on-campus, and are eligible to work off-campus after via the Practicum Option after one academic year. Please contact International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) for details.
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) with any visa or immigration-related questions.
(back to top)
Yes, a deposit of $700.00 is required to reserve your space in the program. You can pay this deposit through GuestPay. The amount will be deposited into your student account, and applied towards your tuition and fees.
We have limited space in our program. If you fail deposit on-time, your spot in the program will be offered to someone on the waiting list.
Registration will be done online. See the OneStop Office for detailed steps. You must pay for courses or sign up for a payment plan by the payment deadline. See the Payment Options page for more information.
You will register for courses for the first time during orientation. Payment will be due immediately after registration.
Yes, all full-time graduate students and international students are required to have health insurance and will be automatically enrolled in USF's health insurance plan. You can opt out of this health insurance plan if you have equivalent coverage. Visit Health Promotion Services for details.
Yes. All computer science graduate students must attend a one-day MSCS Program Orientation before classes begin. Details will be provided in your admission packet. All new students are also encouraged to go to the Graduate Student Welcome Reception for all graduate students. International students must attend the International Student Orientation as well.
After receiving your admission packet, you should place your deposit, apply for a student visa (if applicable), order official transcripts to be sent to our Office of Graduate Studies, and start exploring housing options. See the Next Steps page for detailed information. International student should also see the Pre-Arrival page for additional steps.
(back to top)