G Computer Sci

How To Apply

Apply Now for Fall 2015 Admission!The M.S. in Computer Science (MSCS) program starts each fall (late August). The priority application date for fall admission is March 1.

The application process for the MSCS is entirely online. Please visit How To Apply to create your application and upload your application items. The following sections provide information specific to the MSCS program.

Required Background

A Bachelor's degree is required, preferably in CS or similar fields. The program accepts three-year Bachelor's degrees from international applicants.

If you have a Bachelor's degree in a non-CS field you may apply if you can demonstrate a background that matches the majority of these courses required for admission:

  • 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 courses are recommended but not required for admission:

  • Compilers (CS 414) -or- Programming Languages (CS 345)
  • Calculus and Analytic Geometry (MA 109)

Demonstrating you are a strong student through extensive academic and research experience can make up for missing background. Make sure you include transcripts for all other degrees and courses completed in your application, and describe any research projects you worked on in your CS Background Essay.

We will also consider work experience related to software development when evaluating your background. Please include this experience on your resume or curriculum vitae, and describe the programming projects you worked on (with the languages and tools you used) in your essay.

Test and GPA Requirements

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general exam is required. International applicants must also provide a TOEFL or IELTS score. The USF school code for the TOEFL and the GRE is 4850. See below for more details.

GRE Requirement

The GRE (Graduate Record Exam) general exam is required for most applicants. We consider primarily the quantitative score. The average quantitative GRE score of our current cohort is 164. Applications with a quantitative score below 155 are not competitive.

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 an application in the system and send an email to the graduate advisor at with your resume and application number.

TOEFL Requirement

An official TOEFL, IELTS or PTE score is required of international applicants. The average TOEFL score of our current cohort is 86. The minimum required TOEFL score is 79. See this calculator to convert between TOEFL and IELTS scores.

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.

GPA Requirement

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.

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.

Statement of Purpose

For the Statement of Purpose, please provide a CS Background Essay that describes your background in computer science and software development, including research and work experiences. This statement is used in conjunction with your other application items to evaluate your eligibility for admission and scholarship. Topics in your essay may include:

  • Any significant software development projects in which you have been involved. Please describe the project, its purpose (commercial, academic, or just for fun), and your role and contributions.

  • Any research projects in which you have been involved. Please describe the project, whether it resulted in any publications, and your role and contributions.

  • Any significant skills and interests you have beyond computer science, especially those that demonstrate creativity and problem solving.

  • Any experience in communicating technical material in English, such as teaching or making presentations.

  • Any management or team leadership roles you have held.

  • Any experience in public or community service projects.

  • If you have a non-CS background and are missing several required background courses, include an argument on how your background has prepared you for our program.

  • If you have low scores in the past, include an argument and alternative evidence that you will be able to maintain a 3.0 GPA or above in the program.

The essay should be 1 to 3 pages single-spaced in 12 point font with 1 inch margins. Essays that do not conform to these specifications will not be read.

International Students

International applicants follow the same process as domestic applicants, but have to submit additional documentation. See below for details.

Visa Information

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.

Certification of Finance

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. Please contact the Office of Graduate Programs for questions about the Certification of Finances.

Scholarship Eligibility

International students are eligible and automatically considered for all MSCS scholarships. See Financing Your Education for details.

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.

Work Eligibility

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.

Review Process

You must upload all required documents before submitting your application. Once you submit your application, it will be considered incomplete until we receive your letter of recommendations and your application materials are verified. Your application will not be reviewed until it is marked as completed.

When an application is marked as complete, it will be sent to the MSCS Admission Review Committee. The review process takes approximately 3 to 6 weeks after the application is completed. For Fall admission, completed applications are reviewed starting in early January.

Applications will be reviewed until the priority deadline on March 1st. Applications are accepted and reviewed after the deadline until the program is full, and we 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.

Applicants are notified by email when an admission decision has been made and posted to the applicant's online account.

Admitted Students

If accepted into the program, applicants will receive an acceptance letter via email and an admission package in the mail. Your admission packet will include information on the required deposit, registration, and orientation. If you are awarded a scholarship, details will be included in the acceptance letter.


If you are admitted, an admission deposit of $700.00 is required to reserve your space in the program. The deposit is applied towards your first-semester tuition.

The program has limited space. If you do not deposit by the deposit deadline, your space in the program is offered to someone on the waiting list.


Students register for courses online during orientation. Tuition payment is made immediately after registration. 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.


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.

Next Steps

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can find some frequently asked questions and answers below:

Feel free to contact the graduate director if you have any questions not answered here.