Frequently Asked Graduate Admissions Questions
Q. What kind of undergraduate preparation is required?
A. The most important qualification for graduate study in Computer Science is good undergraduate preparation. The more Computer Science courses, and the better the performance in those courses, the greater the likelihood of admission to the program. However, if your overall performance convinces the Admissions Committee of your qualification for graduate study, minor deficiencies in undergraduate preparation are acceptable, provided these deficiencies are removed during the first year in Graduate School. At a minimum, you should have taken courses equivalent to
CMPSCI 121, Introduction to Problem Solving with Computers
CMPSCI 187, Programming with Data Structures
CMPSCI 220, Programming Methodology
CMPSCI 230, Computer Systems Principles
CMPSCI 250, Introduction to Computation
MATH 131/5, 132, Calculus I, II
MATH 233 Linear Algebra
STATS 515 Statistics I
Q. I'm attending a graduate program at a state college or university. Is it possible for me to transfer directly into the UMass, Computer Science graduate program?
A. There is no policy for directly transferring into Computer Science -- you must apply to the University's Graduate Admissions Office through the normal application procedure. However, you may request a transfer of up to six credits taken at another college or university once you have been admitted into our program (as long as those credits have not been used to satisfy the requirements for another degree).
Q. What criteria does the school use in recommending applicants for admission?
A. Admission into the School of Computer Science is highly competitive. Backgrounds vary; we have students from engineering, math, computer science, electrical engineering, psychology and social sciences. With such a diverse group, emphasis is put on your academic background, letters of recommendation, personal statement, previous achievements, GPA and the GRE scores. We generally receive over 700 applications each year and enroll 30-40 students into the PhD and MS/PhD tracks and 40-50 students into the MS track.
Q. What if my scores or letters don't arrive by the application deadline?
A. Applications received by the December 15th deadline will be reviewed when they are complete. If your application is submitted on time, any materials received later (ie, GRE scores, TOEFL scores, transcripts, letters) will be added to the application when they arrive. Please keep in mind that this may delay the review of your application because the Admissions Committee will not review incomplete applications. The review process begins in December and our first admission decisions are made in January. The longer it takes for your materials to arrive, the later it will be before your application is reviewed.
Q. I don't have a degree in Computer Science. What do I have to do to make my application competitive with Computer Science majors?
A. We receive many inquiries from prospective students with little or no undergraduate preparation in Computer Science. In most cases, we recommend that such students enroll as non-degree students here or elsewhere to learn the undergraduate core of Computer Science. A year spent in this fashion allows you to discover whether you do indeed have the requisite skills and deep interest in Computer Science, and it provides us with the necessary data to determine whether you qualify for admission to the graduate program. We occasionally make exceptions to this rule but only if a student wishes to pursue interdisciplinary studies in Computer Science and has shown exceptional ability in a complementary discipline such as math, electrical engineering, physics, linguistics, neuroscience or psychology. If you are admitted on these terms you will be required to satisfy undergraduate course deficiencies during your first year - the courses so taken do not, of course, count towards the graduate degree.
Q. Do we offer Spring admission?
A. Due to the high volume of our applications and our interest in carefully reviewing each one, it is not possible for us to offer Spring admission.
Q. What departmental code do I use for reporting scores?
A. Always use 3917, the UMass Amherst University code. It is not necessary to include a departmental code.
Q. Will the University accept copies of GRE and TOEFL scores?
A. Official reports issued by ETS will be required before full processing of that application will take place. In rare instances, the Graduate School will accept certified copies of these reports.
Q. I am an international applicant currently attending an American college. Will my TOEFL be waived?
A. TOEFL may be waived if the applicant has attended on a full-time basis an American college or university for a period of at least two academic years immediately preceding anticipated entrance date.
Q. Where should I send my Transcripts?
A. Official Transcripts should be sent to Graduate Admissions Office, 530 Goodell Building, 140 Hicks Way, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003.
Q. What are the average test scores and GPA's of accepted applicants?
A. Although standardized tests are by no means the only criteria considered, average GRE scores in all three areas (verbal, quantitative, analytical) within the past 5 years for accepted students have been in the high 600/700's. Average test scores of students who have been accepted are:
Verbal: 84th percentile (160 on the new GRE Scale)
Quantitative: 93rd percentile (164 on the new GRE Scale)
Average GRE Analytical Writing Measure score: 4.0
Average TOEFL iBt: 99
GPA's are usually greater than 3.0.
Q. What are my chances of getting an assistantship (financial aid)?
A. For PhD and MS/PhD track students, it is our policy to provide financial aid (assistantships) to those admitted students requesting it (with occasional exceptions). Stipends come in the form of Research/Teaching Assistantships (12 month or 9 month). For example, stipends for the Academic Year 2013-2014 were $26,000.00 for 12 month appointments.
For MS track students, the School of Computer Science does not provide financial support. (The only exception is UMass Amherst undergraduates admitted via the Bay State Fellowship Program.)
It is also worth mentioning that the cost of living is cheaper in the Pioneer Valley than many other places which makes it easier to live on the level of support we offer.
Q. I've applied to your program and was not offered admission. I would like to reactivate my application. Is this possible?
A. If you wish to reapply, you'll need to fill out another application form through the Graduate Admissions Office, and pay the application fee. The application form asks whether you have previously made an application to the Graduate School. In the paper form, this question is in Section II, under OTHER and on the On-line application, it's in #18. Be sure to indicate "Yes" as well as the date or semester and year of your previous application. The School of Computer Science keeps applications on file for two years. When your reapplication comes to our school, it will be so indicated on the front by the University's Graduate Admissions Office. The Graduate Secretary will then locate your old file and integrate it with any new materials. Anything you wish to add must be sent through the Graduate Admissions Office. Please do not send materials directly to the School, as it only causes delays in reviewing your application.