Graduate Admissions FAQs
- Does my undergraduate degree have to be in computer science?
No, however, most successful applicants have a degree in computer science, engineering, physics, or mathematics. Your application should demonstrate that you have sufficient preparation to succeed in the required courses for the degree program, which are detailed in the program guide (pdf).
- What is the difference between the M.S. and M.S.E program?
The MS (Master’s of Science) and MSE (Master’s of Science in Engineering) degree requirements are the same. Students with a bachelor’s degree in engineering can elect either degree citation. Students without an engineering bachelor’s degree are eligible only for the MS.
- If I’m interested in both the PhD and MS program, do I need to submit an application to each?
No. If you are interested in both the PhD and MS programs in CSE, you should fill out the PhD application and indicate on page 9 of the application that you would like to be considered for the MS program (should you not be offered admission to the PhD program).
- How do I apply for departmental financial aid?
Every applicant offered admission to the PhD program will be considered for financial support. No separate application is required. Admission at the MS level is not accompanied by financial aid. For more information, please refer to the Funding page.
- What matters most when the Admissions Committee is evaluating applications?
When evaluating applications, the Graduate Admissions Committee considers every aspect of your application.
- What is the difference between the academic statement of purpose and personal statement?
Your statement of purpose should address your academic research interests, past research experience, and future career goals. Your personal statement should describe how your life experiences affected your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Some suggested topics for your personal statement are: volunteer and/or community service; extra-curricular activities; leadership activities; educational, cultural, geographic or socio-economic background underrepresented in your discipline of graduate study; financial hardship; first generation U.S. citizen or first generation in family to graduate from a four-year college.
- What application materials are required?
- Can the GRE be waived?
GRE scores are neither required nor expected. If submitted, the Graduate Admissions Committee (made up of CSE faculty) will take them into consideration along with the rest of the application so that the application is reviewed in its entirety. Each application will be holistically reviewed and ranked in relation to the other applications received.
Prior to the pandemic, the GRE was required and applicants were encouraged to take the GRE no later than two months prior to the application deadline, and preferably earlier. Should you wish to submit GRE scores, ETS must send your GRE scores to institution code 1839 (a department code is not needed). GRE scores are valid 5 years from the date you took the test.
- Can the TOEFL be waived in certain cases for non-native English speakers?
Yes, the TOEFL can be waived if you meet one of Rackham’s exemptions. A list of those exemptions can be found here. You are encouraged to take the TOEFL no later than two months prior to the application deadline, and preferably earlier. ETS must send your TOEFL scores to institution code 1839 (a department code is not needed). TOEFL scores are valid 2 years from the date you took the test. No other test scores (e.g. IELTS, ECPE, MET) are acceptable.
- Is an official transcript required at the time of application?
No. If you are offered admission, however, you must submit a final, official transcript to the Rackham Graduate School with your degree posted that includes the date your degree was awarded.
- How do I submit an official transcript?
Submit a transcript for each Bachelor’s, Master’s, Professional or Doctoral degree earned. For instructions on submitting transcripts, please see the Rackham Graduate school website. For CSE’s requirements, please see the How to Apply page. Note: All credentials submitted for admission consideration become the property of the University of Michigan and will not be returned in original or copy form.
- Is it possible for me to update my application after it has been submitted?
No. You should include all relevant information in your application before you submit it. All application materials must be submitted by the application deadline.
- How will I know all my materials have been received?
After you submit your application and create a Friend Account, you will be able to confirm the receipt of test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation via Wolverine Access. Follow the directions listed here to set up a U-M Friend Account. Please allow 7 to 10 business days after completing the steps above, to verify your received materials. Please note, CSE is unable to send confirmation when your complete application has been received.
- Will I be notified if something is missing from my application?
It is the applicant’s responsibility to monitor the status of submitted materials via Wolverine Access. Please note that application PDF forms, written essays (statement of purpose, personal statement etc.), curriculum vitae or resumes, transcripts from Community or Junior College, non-degree study and/or study abroad coursework will not be confirmed in Wolverine Access. Please, therefore, review your application carefully before submitting it. You should refer number 8 on the Rackham application checklist for more information.
- Can my materials be returned to me?
No. All credentials submitted for admission consideration become the property of the University of Michigan and will not be returned in original or copy form.
- Do you offer department visits before applying to CSE?
The CSE division does not participate in formal college visits other than the Explore Graduate Studies Workshop held each fall. Interested students may find more information here.
- I applied to the CSE graduate program last year and was rejected. How can I reapply?
You will need to submit a new application, pay the application fee, and provide new supporting documents. GRE and TOEFL scores will need to be resubmitted only if the scores have expired. TOEFL scores are valid 2 years from the test date, and GRE scores are valid 5 years from the test date.
- Do online courses or courses taken at a community college carry any weight?
All application materials are considered holistically and ranked in relation to other CSE applicants.
- Can you waive or defer the application fee?
No. The application fee is determined by the Rackham Graduate School. CSE is unable to waive or defer it.
- Can I apply to more than one Rackham graduate program (e.g. ECE MS or PhD)?
Yes. To apply for a program other than CSE, you must complete a separate online application, pay a separate application fee, and submit separate copies of ALL required credentials, GRE scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc. Please refer to the Rackham admissions page for instructions.
- Who should write my recommendation letters?
Your letter writers should be people with whom you have worked closely, and who are familiar with your academic work and research potential. It is suggested that at least two of the recommendation letters be from academia.
- I have been in the workforce for several years. Should I ask my employer or supervisors to write letters in support of my application?
It is suggested that at least one of your letters be from a faculty member who knew you well. The other two may be from employers. Keep in mind that the CSE Graduate Admissions Committee wants to know about your aptitude for completing coursework and conducting independent research. Character references do not carry as much weight.
- What should I do if my recommender has not received an electronic invitation to recommend me?
This tends to be a problem with how a recommender’s email account is set up. The invitation is either blocked or automatically filtered into a junk mail folder. An applicant can check the status of their recommendations, resend a recommendation request, and even change a recommender if the recommendation is not yet started via an applicant’s Personal Activity page. This page may be accessed under the Manage Your Account section of your online application homepage and by clicking on the Review Your Activity link. Once the application is submitted, the online application cannot be modified. Please refer to the Rackham Letters of Recommendation page for more information.
- Do you have part-time or evening programs?
All CSE graduate programs are intended for day-time students. Some Master’s students choose a part-time schedule of one course per term. Students working full-time would need cooperation from their employer as CSE does not offer evening or weekend classes.
- When will I receive my decision notification?
The CSE Graduate Admissions Committee, comprised of faculty, begin making admission offers in January and continue through April. You will be notified by email once a decision has been made.
- How can I unlock my U of M Friend Account?
Only Rackham Admissions staff can unlock a Friend Account. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org indicating that your Friend Account is locked. The email should include your name, UMID, and email address registered in connection with the Friend Account.
- Do you accept transferred credit?
Please refer to the Rackham Graduate School Academic Policies page for information regarding the transferring of credit into a CSE Master’s degree program. Rackham does not allow credits to be transferred to a PhD program.
- Can my friend/relative call and find out my status for me?
If you would like to give someone permission to contact the CSE Graduate Programs Office on your behalf, you must indicate this on your application before submitting it.
- Whom can I contact if I have a specific question?
If you have a specific question that is not answered here, please contact the CSE Graduate Programs office via email at email@example.com.
- Can my admission or funding (e.g. fellowship) be deferred?
Deferral of admission may be granted for up to one year following the original term of application. Decisions are made carefully and approvals are few in number. What are the circumstances under which deferrals may be granted? In rare situations, unforeseen and extenuating circumstances occur that affect an applicant’s ability to enroll. These situations may include a medical emergency, family emergency, delay or denial of a visa to study in the United States, or natural disaster (e.g. earthquake, hurricane). When these types of circumstances occur, an admitted student may request to defer enrollment (referred to as deferred admission) for up to one year following the original term of application. A new application and application fee are not required. If approved, only the offer of admission is deferred and not the guaranteed funding type.
Circumstances such as employment, enrollment at another institution, funding, or indecisiveness regarding enrollment are typically not appropriate justifications for requesting deferred enrollment. Requests for deferrals of up to one year are sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and the reason deferral is being requested must be included in the email. Consideration beyond one year requires submission of a new application, application fee, and required documentation.