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Master's Admissions | Frequently Asked Questions

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General Application

  1. Do you have to be a Computer Science undergraduate major to apply? No, it is not required that a student have majored in CS but it is important that you have strong quantitative and analytical skills.
  2. If I already have an MS or PhD degree in Computer Science from another institution, may I apply to the MS or PhD program at Stanford? No, if you already have an MS degree in Computer Science from another school, you cannot apply to our MS program in Computer Science. However, if you have a MS CS degree from another institution, you may apply to our CS PhD program. 
  3. Are my units transferable? Units are not transferable to the MS CS program. 
  4. Do you accept visiting scholars, exchange students, and postdocs? No. The Computer Science Department does not have such a program. All visiting scholar, exchange student, and postdoc arrangements are made between individual professors of the universities involved.
  5. Where can I find housing information? You can find housing information on the Residential & Dining Enterprise site.
  6. What is HCP and how do I apply to that program? HCP stands for honors cooperative program. There is a check box on the application to indicate if you want to apply for the HCP.  The honors co-op program is a part-time Master's program for people who are employed full-time. For more information, visit Stanford Online.
    • The admissions process and application requirements for HCP applicants are the same as they are for full-time Master's program applicants. 
    • NOTE: This program is not open to international students outside of the U.S.
  7. If I am accepted into the HCP program, can I go full-time once I enroll? Yes, you can move from a part-time student to a full-time student status and vice-versa. You will need to let us know that you would like to change your student status after you have accepted the admit offer. You are allowed to do this no more than twice (PT-FT-PT or FT-PT-FT).  We do not allow students who are on HCP student status to enroll from outside of U.S (i.e overseas).
  8. What is NDO and how do I apply to that program? NDO stands for non-degree option program and is a program that allows interested individuals the opportunity to register for Stanford courses and earn grades and credit without matriculating as a regular Stanford graduate student. The CS Graduate Admissions office does not handle NDO admissions. To learn more visit Stanford Online.
  9. If I take NDO classes, does that mean I will automatically get into the CS Master's program if I apply? No, taking NDO classes does not ensure admission into the MS program. You may transfer up to a maximum of 18 units of NDO courses to the Master's program once you have been admitted provided that the courses fulfill MS program requirements.
  10. How many units from my NDO courses can I transfer to the HCP program if I apply and am accepted? A maximum of 18 units may be transferred.
  11. When will I receive my I-20 form? Foreign students offered admission to a U.S. university are required to fill out an I-20 form. The central office of graduate admissions begins processing your I-20 form after you accept the offer of admission in Axess indicating your intention to enroll at Stanford and return the Financial Resources Certification form, along with a copy of your passport, to the Graduate Admissions office. Once this response form is received from you, it typically takes several weeks for Stanford to mail an I-20 to you. Visit the Graduate Admissions website.
    • At the Department level, we cannot do anything to speed up this process. Foreign students are encouraged to seek a visa promptly upon receiving their I-20 because it may take up to several weeks to be processed by the U.S. Consulate due to increased security considerations.
    • All new international students will be assessed a SEVIS fee in addition to other fees associated with processing visa applications. For details, see the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.
  12. Does the CS department offer a MS/PhD program? No, the MS program and PhD program are two separate programs. The MS degree does not automatically lead to a PhD degree. Applicants planning to pursue a PhD degree should apply directly to that program.
  13. How can I find out more about course requirements for the CS Master's program? Visit Stanford University Bulletin for program requirements.
  14. Where can I find information about the CS Master's program? Visit the Computer Science Master's program webpage.
  15. How am I assigned an advisor? Each MS student admitted to the CS program is assigned a faculty advisor within the two weeks following the start of autumn quarter by the Master's program administrator.
  16. Where do I get an application? External applicants and current Stanford graduate students applying to the MS (including HCP) program must apply online
    • Current Stanford undergraduate students applying to the MS-Coterm program must apply online.
  17. How do I submit an online application? Apply online. The statement of purpose must be no more than 8,000 characters in length which includes spaces in between words.
  18. What are the application requirements? Refer to the CS admissions webpage.
  19. What is the application deadline? Check the admissions deadline webpage.
  20. If I previously applied, can my application be reactivated? No. We are not able to reactivate applications or supporting documents from previous applications. If you reapply, you must follow the same application requirements as new applicants by submitting a new online application and new supporting documents.
  21. What supporting documents should I send and where? Unofficial copies of transcripts or e-transcripts must be uploaded onto the online application. Paper sets of official transcripts can be sent only after Stanford Graduate Admissions contact you to submit them.
  22. Can I reapply to the MS program? Yes, however, you cannot apply more than once for the same academic year. Additional degree applicants can find instructions for reapplying on our CS website.
  23. Can I get a waiver on the application fee? If you are unable to pay by credit card or if the application fee is considered to be a financial burden, visit the Graduate Admissions website.
  24. How long is the statement of purpose? The statement of purpose must be no more than two pages in length (no more than 8,000 words). This includes spaces in between words. Please upload it in the online application.
  25. How do I find out about the status of my application? Due to the large volume of applications our office receives, we are unable to respond to inquiries regarding the status of any application. You can check the status of your application by logging in to your ApplyWeb account. Our office will contact you via e-mail if your application is incomplete, so please be sure that our office has your current e-mail address on file.
    • We recommend that you retain copies of the supporting documents that you send us and have your recommenders retain copies of what they send us. It is very important to make sure your first and last names remain consistent throughout the application process and in your correspondence with the Department.
  26. How/when will I be notified of the admissions committee decision? The admissions office will send decision letters electronically for all applicants by the end of March for MS applicants.
  27. What if I don't receive notification about an admissions decision by the posted decision date? If you have not received an email from our office by the posted decision date, you may email us at admissions@cs.stanford.edu and include your email address. Please do not call our office with this particular inquiry as we are unable to provide any applicant information over the phone.
    • The decisions are made in late March for Master's applicants.
  28. If I am admitted to a CS graduate program, can I defer admission? Deferrals are granted on a case by case basis and usually for only compelling reasons.  Deferral petition requests are due by April 11 for MS admits.  Requests for deferrals should be sent to Jayanthi Subramanian (jayanthi@stanford.edu). Co-terms cannot defer admission.
  29. What is your GPA requirement? Typically, GPAs are at least 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) for MS applicants.
  30. How do I calculate my major GPA? You have to identify all the courses you are counting towards the major requirement and find the average GPA of all those courses. If you have a double major, you need to calculate two different GPAs based on the separate group of courses that are being used to meet the requirement.
  31. What do I put for my overall GPA and max GPA at your school on the online application form? Maximum GPA varies from school to school. Most U.S. universities follow a 4.0 scale. There are some exceptions where the scale extends to 15 points, case in point, Harvard University. Stanford follows a 4.3 scale which distinguishes the minus and plus grades for the top three letter grades. It is best to state the cumulative GPA (CGPA or the UG GPA) that appears at the end of the latest quarter/semester grades. This is an average of all your quarter/semester grades.
    • A weighted average calculation is necessary when courses have variable credits /units structure.
    • Note (International Students): If your institution does not follow a GPA system, please enter the required GPA in the "unconverted GPA" field on the application. If your institution follows an absolute grading system, please use the maximum absolute aggregate for your institution in the "unconverted GPA System" field and the aggregate score you have obtained in the "unconverted GPA" field. At most foreign universities, it is typically out of 10, 20 or 100 points. The maximum score per course is defined on the transcript in almost all cases. For example, if the maximum score is 100 points per course and you have six courses per semester, your unconverted scale value would be 4800 (8x6x100) for the eight quarters of the undergraduate program. If you obtained 3700 points out of the potential 4800 points, that will be your unconverted GPA.
    • Do not normalize your GPA to reflect a value relative to the highest achieved aggregate score in your class/batch/year. The only exceptions are physical education and military history; these two courses can be eliminated from the calculation. Utilize the "additional information" section under the statement of purpose section to briefly highlight the grading system used by your institution and your relative placement in that grading scheme.
  32. Can I apply to start in the Winter or Spring quarter? No, we only offer admission to the Autumn quarter for MS and HCP applicants.

GRE/TOEFL

  1. Do I need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)? GRE scores are not required from MS applicants. 
  2. Do I need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)? TOEFL is required from all applicants whose first language is not English regardless of citizenship. Tests must be taken prior to the program’s application deadline and application submission. Self-reported scores should be recorded on the application. We do not accept IELTS scores.
    • Exception: Individuals who have completed (not only attended) a Bachelor's degree or a two-year Master's degree (or the equivalent of either degree) at a recognized institution where all instruction is provided in English. This does not apply if the courses were completed in a country where English is spoken, though not all courses were provided in English.
    • For more information on TOEFL requirements, visit Stanford University's Office of Graduate Admissions website.
  3. How recent must my TOEFL scores be? TOEFL scores submitted to Stanford must be from a test taken within the last 24 months (two years). No scores are valid beyond the date ETS will send or resend them to schools. Tests must be taken prior to application submission and the program application deadline.
  4. When should I take the TOEFL? If you are taking the TOEFL tests, it is recommended that you take the tests at least six (6) weeks before the application deadline.
  5. What is the TOEFL recommendation? We expect applicants to have "good" English skills.

Letters of Recommendation

  1. I've been working for several years and it's difficult to get three letters of recommendation from former professors. Will you accept letters from my employer or supervisors? Yes, we will accept letters from your supervisors, bosses, and managers at work. However, the strongest applications tend to have letters from both academic and industry sources.
  2. How should my recommenders send their letters? In the online application, you will be prompted to list your recommenders and their contact emails. The recommenders will receive an email with a link where they will answer a few questions and submit their letter electronically. We cannot accept paper, mailed, faxed or email, versions of the letters of recommendation. All letters must be submitted electronically through the online system.

Miscellaneous

  1. Is a CV or resume required? Yes, please upload your CV or resume in the online application. Please be sure to list all your publications (if any) here as well.
  2. Do you offer financial support for MS students? The Computer Science Department does not offer financial support for MS students. The only form of financial support available is in the form of Student Loans. To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Graduate students can learn more about financial programs by visiting the Financial Aid office website or by calling them at (888) FAO-3773.
    • CS RA/CA resources are very limited and are largely used to support ongoing PhD students. Stanford MS students are discouraged from relying on assistantships to pay for tuition.