Graduate Program - Application Procedure

Important notes for applicants

The Computer Science department (CSC) wishes to attract outstanding applicants. Before beginning the application process, we ask that you note several items intended to improve your overall experience.

  • Our application process is entirely electronic. All materials are submitted through the Graduate School's online application.
  • All test results -- GRE, TOEFL and IELTS -- where required, must be reported officially by the testing agency.
  • The GRE is required of all international masters applicants. For details, see GRE / TOEFL Requirements.
  • Transcripts (except N.C. State transcripts) must be uploaded by the applicant and conform to the department's specifications, as described below.
Prerequisites for Study

Applicants for graduate study are expected to be prepared for successful graduate study at the time of admission, with a strong background in math and computer science. The subjects we believe are necessary for success in our graduate program are:

  1. Mathematics: calculus (2 or 3 semesters), probability and statistics (typically at a junior or senior level), and discrete math. A course in linear algebra can also be helpful.
  2. Programming and algorithmic thinking: 2 semesters of objected-oriented programming (Java, C++, or the like), and a course in data structures. A course in algorithm analysis / automata theory is worth considering.
  3. Computer systems: a course on computer organization, and possibly a course on operating systems.

For more information, see Prerequisites/Students with Non-CS Backgrounds.


Applications are submitted electronically to the Graduate School. The GRE is required of all international masters applicants and all international and domestic PhD applicants. CSC only considers an application "submitted" once the fee is paid and the following items received:

  • Scanned copies of all official transcripts
  • General GRE test report (from ETS)
  • TOEFL or IELTS report (from ETS/IELTS)
  • Three recommendations
  • Personal Statement
  • Curriculum vitæ or resume (optional, but highly recommended)

The online system utilizes the code "MR" to designate our non-thesis Master of Computer Science (MCS) degree, our default degree for masters admission and the most popular graduate degree conferred by the department.

If you are applying for the Computer Networking degree (MSCN) -- a graduate program shared by both the Computer Science department and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and offered in on-campus and distance education formats -- be certain to select the item that correctly reflects your departmental choice, "Computer Science concentration" or "Electrical Engineering concentration" depending on whether your interest in networking tends more toward software or hardware topics. And note also, the two departments, CSC and ECE, handle MSCN admission independently, with each using its own application deadlines, policies and criteria.

Transcript Specifications

Applicants must upload a scanned transcript for each post-secondary school attended. Transcripts should conform to U.S. standards for documenting higher education and include the following:

  • Student's name
  • School's name
  • Authenticating seals or registrar's signature
  • Dates and/or terms enrolled
  • Three years minimum of completed undergraduate study
  • Major or specialty
  • Course titles with grade received
  • Coursework in progress
  • When applicable, degree and date awarded
  • School's transcript key or legend

International applicants must provide attested English translations, and they should include a copy of their diploma or degree certificate if necessary to satisfy the above specifications.

Domestic applicants are urged to upload copies of official printed or electronic transcripts only, since alternate forms of records from U.S. schools rarely provide all the information CSC requires.

Note: The Graduate School has established 3.0 as the minimum undergraduate grade point average for admission of U.S. applicants.

Personal Statement

Applicants are requested to write a statement of purpose up to 500 words in length, addressing the following points:

  • Highlights of your qualifications
  • Reasons for seeking a graduate degree in Computer Science
  • Reasons for applying to N.C. State

Upload your statement of purpose in the "Personal Statement" section of the online application.

curriculum vitæ

A curriculum vitæ or CV is a convenient summary of your accomplishments. We encourage you to upload a two-page CV, along with other application materials, as this can be very helpful in evaluating an applicant. The contents of the CV often include:

  • degrees earned (institution, major, date, GPA)
  • employment
  • honors/awards received
  • research experience and publications
  • significant projects
  • service

Three recommendations are required. These should be prepared by persons qualified to evaluate the applicant's potential to succeed in graduate studies in Computer Science. Letters from professors in Computer Science or a closely related discipline who have supervised the student in a class or research are the most relevant.

Recommendations are submitted electronically by references you designate as part of the online application. Because CSC only considers complete applications, applicants are advised to wait until all three recommendations are received before submitting the application.

CSC Supplemental Information

All applicants are expected to enter their bachelor's grade average and scale using that school's grading system, and enter similar information for any previous graduate-level study. Do not convert your average. Entering a converted grade average will result in rejection of the application. The application's Education History section allows those attending multiple post-secondary institutions to enter their average and scale at each school individually. But this does not substitute for the required question(s) on the Supplemental Information section.

All doctoral applicants are required to enter a primary and secondary area of research interest. Masters applicants may select "N/A" for these two questions if they have no particular research interests.

Deferral of Enrollment

Admitted applicants may defer enrollment and advanced deposits for up to one year from the original entry term. However, the Computer Science department will not approve a deferral request unless an advanced deposit is paid by the acceptance deadline stated in the applicant's admission letter.

Current NC State Students Wishing to Transfer to Computer Science

CSC considers requests for interdepartmental transfer on a competitive basis. At minimum, the eligibility requirements are:

  • Requisite undergraduate computer science and math coursework, or their graduate-level equivalents, required for admission (see above, Prerequisites for Study).
  • Completed at least two semesters of graduate study at NC State by the end of the current semester.
  • Have an NCSU graduate GPA of at least 3.6 by the end of the current semester.
  • Cleared the task "Graduate Transcript" from their To-Do list in MyPack.
  • Students wishing to transfer into a thesis degree must have secured tentative agreement from a Computer Science faculty member to supervise and fund their research.

If you qualify, send an email stating your degree objective of interest (e.g., MCS, MS in CS or MSCN) to during the last full week of April for screening and further instructions.

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