Frequently Asked Questions

Any questions about graduate admissions that are not answered on this page should be submitted to grad-admissions@cse.tamu.edu. Much information can also be found on the Texas A&M Office of Admissions and Records (Admissions) website.


The Application: Logistics & General Questions

Q. How can I apply for your graduate programs? What items do you need, and how and where should they be sent?

An application for graduate study in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University consists of an application and supporting materials (transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, CV/resume, relevant publications, etc.) The university and the department each have their own on-line systems that cover different parts of the application process. Electronic submission of all materials to the department is required. A detailed step-by-step description of the application process can be found in the department’s Graduate Brochure (pdf format).

  1. You must submit the basic application to Admissions. This is done via the ApplyTexas system. This system permits you to apply to several Texas universities simultaneously. After the application is received by Admissions, you will be given a UIN (University Identification Number) that can be used to set your Texas A&M NetID and password. Use your UIN in all correspondence with the department and university. Processing your application and issuing your UIN may take several weeks, particularly if you submit your application after mid-December, since the university is closed during the last week or so of December through early January. It is best to submit your application before December 1 for Fall admissions.
  2. After you have completed the basic application and obtained your NetID (see #1), Admissions will transmit your application materials to the department. We will then create an entry for you in the department's on-line application system, and email you. This may take a week or more, particularly if you apply long before the application deadline.
  3. You will be able to use your NetID and password to log in to the department's CSE@TAMU on-line application system http://apply2.cse.tamu.edu where you can submit your statement of purpose, input information regarding your recommenders (we will solicit their letter electronically), your CV/resume, relevant publications (optional), and other documents. You can also update your application information, such as your contact information. Electronic submission of all materials to the department is required.
  4. Official Transcripts (from all institutions attended after high school) and test scores (GRE, TOEFL) should be submitted from the institution or testing service to Admissions as detailed on the Graduate Admissions Information webpage. This official information will eventually appear in the department’s on-line application system. Additionally, applicants are encouraged to submit unofficial transcripts and test scores (e.g., electronic or scanned versions) to the CSE@TAMU on-line application system http://apply2.cse.tamu.edu so that they are available for immediate review by the admissions committee.

Q. Can I submit a hardcopy application?

No. Electronic submission of all application materials to the department is required. We are Computer Science and Engineering and this is the 21st century.

Official Transcripts (from all institutions attended after high school) and test scores (GRE, TOEFL) should be submitted from the institution or testing service to Admissions as detailed on the Graduate Admissions Information webpage.

Q. I accidentally selected computer engineering instead of computer science as my major. Could you please correct this?

No. In ApplyTexas you select “Computer Engineering (Computer Science)” for Computer Engineering within CSE, and “Computer Science” for Computer Science in the pulldown menu. Since Computer Engineering comes earlier in the alphabet, many students select it when they really want Computer Science. Do not worry about this. The choice of major within the department will not affect your chances of admission, and if you are admitted, you can easily change it later. Due to the frequency of this error, we will not ask Admissions to correct this prior to admission.

Q. It seems that both the CSE and ECE departments at Texas A&M offer degrees in Computer Engineering (CE). What is the difference in the CE degrees offered by CSE and ECE? Which department should I apply to?

The Computer Engineering (CE) program at Texas A&M is jointly administered by the CSE and the ECE departments. There are some slight differences in the degree requirements between the two departments. You should select the department by studying faculty web sites and applying to the department with faculty whose interests most closely match yours. You cannot apply to both departments at the same time. Faculty in each department co-advise students in the other department, so if you are admitted to one department and find your closest research match in the other department, you can still work with that faculty member.

Q. I am currently enrolled in a graduate program at another U.S. university and I want to transfer to Texas A&M. What should I do?

You apply for graduate studies at Texas A&M using the standard procedure - there is no special process for transfers. The university may grant transfer credit for some of the graduate courses you took at the other university. Texas A&M adheres to the Council of Graduate Schools Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants. As part of this agreement, we will require that you submit a letter from an official from your current program stating that they have no objection to you moving to Texas A&M.

Q. I received the following test scores (GRE XX/XX/XX, TOEFL YY), my class rank is ZZ, etc. Can you please tell me my chances for admission?

No. The department does not answer such queries. The admissions committee considers the entire application when making a decision, so it is not possible to evaluate your chances of admission based on a few quantitative measures.

Q. How long does it take to obtain an M.S. or Ph.D. degree

The M.S. degree typically takes 2-3 years of full-time study to complete. The Ph.D. degree typically takes 5-6 years after the B.S. or 3-5 years after the M.S. There is a large amount of variation from student to student. International students must use the times specified by International Student Services (e.g. 3 years for an M.S.) when computing required financial resources.


The Application: Deadlines, Status, Notification

Q. What are the deadlines for application to the graduate program and for applying for fellowships and assistantships?

January 1 is the deadline for applications to be considered for Fall (August) admission, and fellowships and assistantships awarded by the department. U.S. citizens and permanent residents should submit all application materials by December 1, if they wish to also receive consideration for university level diversity and merit fellowships.  All applicants are considered for financial aid, without a separate financial aid application. The general Texas A&M University application deadline is March 1 for Fall (August), but this is too late to receive full consideration by the admissions committee.

The university is closed in the last weeks of December and early January, and no application processing is performed. So applications submitted during this time will experience a delay of several weeks between the time you submit an application in ApplyTexas and it is received by the department, and you can submit your remaining documents and recommenders. Therefore we recommend that you submit all your application materials by the beginning of December. If you experience a delay, do not worry about this. If you submit your application in ApplyTexas by January 1, it will receive full consideration for departmental financial aid, even if you cannot submit all your materials until after that date.

While most students are admitted in the Fall, the department does consider applicants for Spring admission. Applications for Spring (January) admission should be received by August 1. Applicants for Spring admission should understand that there will be few, if any, opportunities for fellowships and assistantships, since most are awarded in the Fall.

Q. When will decisions on applications be made? How will applicants be notified of the decision on their application?

Decisions on most Ph.D. students are typically made by the end of February for Fall admission, and decisions on most M.S. students by mid-March. Applicants are notified by email and their status in the CSE@TAMU on-line application system apply2.cse.tamu.edu as soon as a decision is made regarding their application. The department notification is unofficial. You will receive official notification from Admissions at a later date. Do not call or email asking the status of your application. If you have not been admitted or declined, your application is still being considered.

Q. How can I find out about the status of my application?

The status of your application with our department can be checked using the CSE@TAMU on-line application system apply2.cse.tamu.edu. You can also check the status of supporting materials such as test scores and transcripts on-line with Admissions. Due to delays in processing, the status of materials may be different in each system. Do not worry about this. If Admissions says your materials are received, the department will receive them.

Q. The on-line status report is showing my application is still incomplete even though I have submitted all the required application materials. Could you please check on this?

No. It often takes several weeks for documents submitted separately to be integrated into the application. Thus, it is usual for your application to continue be listed as incomplete even after all the materials have been received by Admissions or in our department. This is one reason it is important to submit as many materials as possible using the CSE@TAMU on-line application system apply2.cse.tamu.edu - materials submitted there will be integrated with your application immediately. If a long time (4 weeks or more) has elapsed between the time transcripts or test scores were submitted to Admissions and they have not appeared online, then contact us.

Q. The on-line status report in apply2.cse.tamu.edu is showing my application is still incomplete even though the Admissions Applicant Information System (AIS) is showing that Admissions has received the materials. Could you please check on this?

No. If Admissions has received the materials, they will eventually be forwarded to the department and combined with the rest of your application. This is one reason it is important to submit as many materials as possible using the CSE@TAMU on-line application system apply2.cse.tamu.edu - materials submitted there will be integrated with your application immediately.

Q. The courier/postal service reports that my transcripts/test scores were received by Admissions several weeks ago, but the on-line status report is showing that they have not received the materials. Could you please check on this?

No. It can take several weeks for Admissions to enter documents into the application system. They are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. We see the same status information that you do, so check again in another week or two. We will get your documents as soon as Admissions processes them. There can be an additional delay of several weeks near the last few weeks of December and early January, when the university is closed and no application processing is performed.

Q. I have been admitted to your graduate program. I would like to defer my admission and start your program in a later semester. What is your policy on deferring admission?

In general, we do not allow students to defer their admission. This is because admissions decisions are based on the projected needs of the department for a particular semester, and those needs vary from semester to semester.

Thus, students who do not enroll for the semester for which they were admitted will have their admission to the university cancelled and they will need to reapply for the semester which they do want to begin their graduate studies. Exceptions to this policy may be considered by the admissions committee on a case by case basis. To request such consideration, please send your petition describing your need for a deferral to grad-admissions@cse.tamu.edu.

Q. I applied for a previous semester, but I did not enroll because I was denied admission or because I was not able to begin my studies for the semester I was admitted. Do I have to re-apply if I want to be considered for admission? What materials do I need to submit?

You will need to submit a new application, a new application fee, a new statement of purpose, and an updated CV/resume. You may also submit new letters of reference if you feel new letters would provide a more accurate evaluation of your potential for graduate studies.

You do not have to send test scores (GRE, TOEFL) again, unless you have retaken the test and want to submit the new scores, or if your scores have expired. Similarly, you do not need to submit transcripts unless you have taken courses or received any degrees since your last application.

If you were previously denied admission, then you should not expect a different decision this time unless your application is significantly stronger. For example, if you have had some relevant research experience, you published a paper, or you significantly improved your test scores. In this case, you should ensure that you submit materials that reflect the change in your situation.


The Application: Finances

Q. Do I need to complete a financial information form and submit it with my application for graduate studies?

No. The department does not use this information for graduate admissions. After you have been admitted, this information may be requested by other offices, such as ISS (International Student Services) or Student Business Services.

Q. Do I need to complete another application to be considered for teaching assistantships or fellowships/scholarships?

No. All applicants are automatically considered for financial aid if they check the box in their apply2.cse.tamu.edu application form indicating they wish to be considered. Students who were not offered funding with admission can apply with current graduate students once they have accepted our offer of admission. Those decisions are made during late Summer for the Fall semester.

Q. Can you waive the application fee for me?

No. The fee is required by Admissions. We cannot pay the fee for you either.

Q. What are my chances of obtaining an assistantship or fellowship?

There are a number of fellowships, scholarships, and assistantships available within the department. All applicants that check the appropriate box(es) on the application form will be considered for all such opportunities. Ph.D. students receive the highest priority. Next priority is given to M.S. (thesis) masters students. Non-thesis masters students are rarely offered any type of support. Most faculty members award their research assistantships similarly. The decisions is made in conjunction with admission, so it is not possible to evaluate your case in advance.

Teaching assistantships are awarded by the department. International students who are not native English speakers must pass the Texas A&M English Language Institute English Language Proficiency Exam (ELPE) administered by the English Language Institute on campus at Texas A&M to qualify as teaching assistants. All students holding department assistantships are required to pass the ELPE or otherwise be certified in English by the end of their first academic year.

Research assistantships are offered by individual faculty members. Inquiries about these opportunities may be initiated by individual faculty members or by students.

Additional positions are available in other university departments where students can work in information technology support positions. Arrangements with other departments are made by the student. This is normally done after the student arrives on campus, typically in the 2-3 weeks before classes start for the semester. These jobs are posted on the Jobs For Aggies site, which is accessible to enrolled students.

Assistantship positions require an average of 20 hours of work per week. All students with assistantships have their full-time resident tuition paid. (Having an assistantship qualifies a student for in-state tuition rates, unless they have spent more than 21 semesters at Texas A&M as a full-time Ph.D. student or completed more than 99 hours of Ph.D. level coursework as a part-time Ph.D. student). Assistantships within CSE also cover required fees, which can be very substantial. Assistantships elsewhere on campus may or may not cover fees. Students with assistantships are eligible for University health insurance coverage and a portion of their monthly premium is paid by the employer; information on premiums and coverage is available at the Office of Graduate Studies and from the insurance vendor.


The Application: Eligibility

Q. What are the minimum GRE scores necessary to be admitted? What about grade point average or class rank?

There are no specified minimums. These quantitative measures are just one part of the application. The admissions committee considers all aspects of every application before making any decisions - this includes your previous academic performance, test scores, letters of recommendation, previous research experience, etc. Thus, it is not possible to evaluate your chances of admission based on a few quantitative measures such as your test scores or grade point average. For international students, low English scores on the GRE verbal or TOEFL exams (e.g. less than 100 on the iBT) greatly reduce the chances for admission.

Q. I received a three year bachelor’s degree. Am I eligible for admission to the graduate program?

Texas A&M accepts European degrees following the Bologna Process, which typically takes three years for a bachelor’s degree. For other educational systems, the admissions committee evaluates the applicant on a case-by-case basis. If your bachelor’s degree is equivalent to our undergraduate Computer Science or Computer Engineering degrees, then the admissions committee will consider it as such.


The Application: Standardized Tests (GRE/TOEFL)

Q. Do I need to take the GRE? What about the GRE subject test? How long are the scores valid? How should the scores be submitted?

All applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general exam. The GRE Computer Science subject test has been discontinued and is not required. 

GRE scores should be from a test date within 5 years of the date that the test scores reach Admissions. For example, if you are applying for admission for Fall 2010, you would normally submit your application and test scores by January 1, 2010, so the test must be from 2005 or later.

GRE test scores must be sent directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to Texas A&M University (Code 6003). You do NOT need to specify a department code, only the university code 6003. The department code is not used by Texas A&M. There is no need for you to be concerned if you did or did not specify a department code, or if you specified the code for the wrong department. Official test scores are required for admission. They are only considered official if sent directly from ETS to Admissions. You are encouraged to upload unofficial scores to the CSE@TAMU on-line application system apply2.cse.tamu.edu, and the admission committee will use them in preliminary evaluations.

Q. Do I need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)? How long are the scores valid? How should the scores be submitted?

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required for applicants whose native language is not English (as determined by Admissions), with the exception of those applicants completing all four years of a bachelor’s degree at an accredited U.S. university. Completing only a master’s degree in the U.S. is not sufficient to waive the TOEFL.

TOEFL scores should be from a test date within two years of the date that the scores reach Admissions. So for documents arriving on January 1, 2010 for Fall 2010 admissions, the TOEFL exam date must be in 2008 or 2009.

TOEFL test scores should be sent directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to Texas A&M University (Code 6003). You do NOTneed to specify a department code, only the university code 6003. The department code is not used by Texas A&M. There is no need for you to be concerned if you did or did not specify a department code, or if you specified the code for the wrong department. Official test scores are required for admission. They are only considered official if sent directly from ETS to Admissions. You are encouraged to upload unofficial scores to the CSE@TAMU on-line application system apply2.cse.tamu.edu, and the admissions committee will use them in preliminary evaluations.

You may submit IELTS exam scores in place of the TOEFL exam.

Q. I took the GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT. Can I submit those scores instead of GRE test scores?

No. The GRE is required.

Q. It will be some time before you will receive my official scores from ETS. Is there a way for me to submit unofficial scores that you can use in the meantime so that the processing of my application is not delayed?

Yes. You can submit a PDF file of your test scores to the CSE@TAMU on-line application system apply2.cse.tamu.edu. Please be aware, however, that you must also request that ETS send the official scores because we cannot process your admission or offer you any assistantship or scholarship without your official scores.

Q. I don't know my test scores yet. Can I submit the application and letters of recommendation without entering my test scores?

Yes. If you do not know your GRE/TOEFL scores yet (either because you didn't take the exam yet, or the scores are not yet known), then please go ahead and submit the application - simply leave the test scores blank. You can submit your test scores when they are available.

Q. What scores on the GRE and TOEFL do I need to be admitted? I obtained scores of XX/XX/XX on the GRE and YY on the TOEFL - can you please tell me my prospects for admission?

No. The department does not answer such queries. The admissions committee considers all parts of every application before making any decisions. Hence, it is not possible for tell you your chances for admission based on your test scores. However, low English scores (e.g. iBT below 100) make admission unlikely.


The Application: Statement of Purpose

Q. Do you have any guidelines for writing the statement of purpose? Are there any specific details that should be included? Any that should not?

The admissions committee would like to see a discussion of the following issues:

    1. Why do you want to pursue graduate studies in CSE?
    2. Why are you interested in Texas A&M?
    3. (Most important) What are your research interests and why do they interest you? What is your background for working in this area? Describe your research plans (if any).

You should not recall your earliest remembrances of exposure to a computer or some other life story about why you are interested in Computer Science or Computer Engineering. Talk about research interests.

Q. How should I submit my statement of purpose?

You should submit your statement of purpose using the CSE@TAMU on-line application system apply2.cse.tamu.edu. The statement must be in one of the following formats: PDF, PS (postscript), or ASCII (plain text). No DOC (MS Word) files will be accepted.

Q. I submitted my statement of purpose in ApplyTexas. Should I submit it again to the department?

Yes. We often do not see the essay in ApplyTexas. You should submit your statement of purpose using the CSE@TAMU on-line application system apply2.cse.tamu.edu. The statement must be in one of the following formats: PDF, PS (postscript), or ASCII (plain text). No DOC (MS Word) files will be accepted.


The Application: Letters of Recommendation

Q. Do my letters of recommendation have to come from my professors? Can I ask my employer for a letter?

The preferred source of letters of recommendation is the faculty who advised you in research projects and who taught your most advanced computing courses. We are most interested in assessments of your research potential and scholarly aptitude, and your rank and performance in the courses they taught you.

If you cannot obtain enough letters from your current or previous professors, then you may also include letters from employers. However, you should understand that in most cases such a letter will not be given the same weight as letters from your professors.

Q. How should my letters of recommendation be submitted?

After you enter the names and email addresses of your recommenders into the CSE@TAMU on-line application system apply2.cse.tamu.edu, your letter writers will receive an email with a special encrypted URL that they should use to submit their recommendation. They will be asked to answer a few brief questions and will have an opportunity to upload a letter of recommendation in PDF, PS (postscript), or ASCII (plain text) format.

Q. My letter writers prefer to email their letter of recommendation. Can they do that?

No. The letter writers must upload their letters directly into the CSE@TAMU on-line application system using the special URL they were sent.

Q. My letter writers want to give me a paper letter of reference and ask me to send it to you. Is this ok?

No. The letter writers must upload their letters directly into the CSE@TAMU on-line application system using the special URL they were sent.

Q. I already asked my letter writers to submit letters via the Admissions Letter of Recommendation (LOR) system. Should I also enter them into apply2.cse.tamu.edu?

No. We will get the LOR letters. It just takes longer, and they are in a less useful format. But do not solicit your letter writers twice. Note that if you have letters from LOR, then the apply2.cse.tamu.edu status may say some letters are missing.

Q. One of my letter writers has not received the email with the letter request. Could you please send it again?

You can send this request yourself from apply2.cse.tamu.edu. Our experience is that many emails to some countries are lost or filtered. Please make sure you are using the correct email address for your letter writer and they are not filtering the emails.


The Application: Transcripts

Q. Do I need to provide transcripts from my previous institutions?

Yes. You need to provide official transcripts from each post-secondary (above high school) institution that you have attended. The exact requirements for transcripts can be found on the Admission's webpage Graduate Admissions Information.

Q. How and where should I submit my transcript(s)?

Transcripts should be sent directly to Admissions from the institution issuing the transcript or via an appropriately sealed envelope. Instructions can be found on the Admission's webpage Graduate Admissions Information.

Additionally, applicants are encouraged to upload unofficial transcripts (e.g., electronic or scanned versions) to the CSE@TAMU on-line application system apply2.cse.tamu.edu so that they are available for immediate review by the admissions committee.


Applications to Transfer from Other TAMU Departments and for Post Baccalaureate Non-Degree (G6) Status

Q. I am currently a graduate student in another department at Texas A&M. What do I need to do to apply to transfer to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering?

Current students in another department who wish to transfer to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering should follow the procedures for degree "upgrades" outlined in apply2.cse.tamu.edu.

Non-degree students are reviewed by the department for continuation at the end of each semester, and they must maintain a GPR of at least 3.000 on all course work attempted to remain eligible to register.

Q. Can I use courses taken as a non-degree (G6) student at Texas A&M towards a graduate degree?

Maybe. If at a later date, a post baccalaureate non-degree student is admitted to a graduate degree program, with the approval of the student's graduate advisory committee and the graduate advisor, a maximum of 12 credit hours taken in post baccalaureate non-degree status at Texas A&M may be used on a student's degree plan. This evaluation is made on a case-by-case basis and the courses must meet the degree plan requirements for the degree.


 

Force Requests

Q. I want to take a CSCE graduate course but the course is currently full. How can I get on a waiting list for the course?

All force requests for CSCE classes must be submitted through CSNet at https://csnet.cs.tamu.edu/apps/forces/.

  • It is essential that you are registered as a full time student before making the force request. 
  • In the comment section, state which class should be dropped if the force request is approved.
  • Complete the form and submit. 
  • Force requests will be processed during the first week of classes. 
  • Please do not call the computer science offices regarding your force request status. 

This force request system cannot be used for non-CSCE classes; you have to contact the department teaching the class for those requests. 

Q. I do not have a CSCE account. Can I use the system to submit a force request?

Yes. If you have never had a CSE Department login, you can log in using your TAMU NETid and password. If you have previously had a CSE Department login that now is inactive contact the CS Department Helpdesk for assistance (this will be the case if you previously took CSCE classes). 

Q. I am unable to reach the CSCE force request page. What can I do? 

You need to be within the firewall of Texas A&M University. If you are off campus, you will need to use VPN.