FAQs

Please contact the Office of Graduate Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences with application questions.

How To Apply

  • How to Apply Office of Graduate Programs page for all graduate programs
  • International Students Additional requirements and information about tests, visa, orientation and services

MS Computer Science - How to Apply

See our program specific page for:

  • Application Instructions
  • Prerequisite Requirements
  • Test & GPA Requirements

Please see our How to Apply

Tuition and Expenses

What is the cost of tuition?
MS Computer Science is 36 units.

Please see the Office of Graduate Programs Tuition page

 

More FAQs

Prerequisites

Please see our How to Apply

Can I still apply if I do not have a formal CS background?
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.

Can I take prerequisites from USF as a visiting student?
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.

Do you accept three-year Bachelors degrees?
We will accept three-year Bachelors degrees from international applicants for admission review.

Do you accept non-CS Bachelors degrees?
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.

Do you consider other graduate degrees or academic experience?
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.

Do you consider work experience?
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.

Do you consider experience with web languages such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, MySQL, or PHP?
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.

Do you consider courses taken at places like Coursera, Udacity, or EdX?
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.

Application Requirements

What are the application requirements?
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.

What are the GPA requirements?
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.

Can I still apply if I have a low GPA?
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.

Which test scores are required?
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.

Is it possible to waive the GRE requirement?
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 gradadvisor@cs.usfca.edu with your resume and application number.

Is it possible to waive the TOEFL requirement?
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.

What is the code for sending the GRE score?
The USF school code for the TOEFL and the GRE is 4850.

What is the average GRE score?
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.

What is the code to send the TOEFL score?
The USF school code for the TOEFL and the GRE is 4850.

What is the average TOEFL score?
The average TOEFL score of our Fall 2014 cohort is 86. The minimum required TOEFL score is 79.

Can I still apply if I do not have recommendation letters?
No, you need at least two letters of recommendation. Applications missing this requirement will not be reviewed.

Can I send recommendation letters from work as well as professors?
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.

Application Process

How do I apply for the program?
Applications are submitted online. Please see the Office of Graduate Programs How to Apply page for more information.

How do I check my application status?
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.

How are applications reviewed?
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.

When are applications accepted?
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.

When are applications reviewed?
We typically begin reviewing applications in late December and early January.

What is the application deadline?
The final application deadline is March 15th. We do not admit students for the Spring semester.

Are applications completed after the deadline considered?
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.

Are incomplete applications reviewed?
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 please contact the Office of Graduate Programs for questions.

Who do I contact with application questions?
Please contact the Office of Graduate Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences with application questions.

Tuition and Expenses

What will be my living expenses?
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.

Does the MSCS program offer scholarships?
Yes, the MSCS program awards several merit-based scholarships every year. See Financing Your Education for more information.

Does the MSCS program offer financial aid?
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.

How do I apply for a scholarship?
We automatically consider all applicants, including domestic and international applicants. There is not a separate application for scholarships.

Can I have a job to help pay for school?
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.

International Students

What is a 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 section of the online application to the program. See the International Graduate Students page for more details.

In general, applicants must complete the Certification of Finances requirement before their application will be considered for review.

What visa do I need to study at USF?
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.

Does a scholarship from USF influence the ability to obtain a 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.

Are international students eligible for scholarships?
Yes, international students are eligible and automatically considered for all MSCS scholarships. See Financing Your Education for details.

Are international students eligible to work in the US?
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.

Who do I contact for more information?
Please contact International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) with any visa or immigration-related questions.

Next Steps after Admission

Is an admission deposit required?
Yes, a deposit of $700.00 is required to reserve your space in the program. You can pay this deposit through myUSF. 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.

How do I register for classes?
Registration will be done online. . You must pay for courses or sign up for a payment plan by the payment deadline.

You will register for courses for the first time during orientation. Payment will be due immediately after registration.

Do I need health insurance?
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.

Is there an orientation for new students?
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.

What should I do after being admitted?
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. International students should also see the Pre-Arrival page for additional steps.

Contact Info

MS Computer Science

Harney Science Center, Room 545, 2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117-1080 (415) 422-6530