Graduate Program - Application Procedure

Important notes for applicants

The Computer Science department 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; the department does not accept paper documents.
  • Recommendations should be submitted by providers via the electronic recommendation system prior to submission of the application.
  • Applicants must order electronic reporting of test results from ETS. Do not upload copies of test reports.
  • Transcripts (except N.C. State transcripts) must be uploaded by the applicant and conform to the department's specifications.
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 following background is typical:

  1. two- or three-semester calculus sequence ( at NC State: MA 141, MA 241, MA 242 )
  2. linear algebra ( MA 305 or MA 405 )
  3. probability and statistics ( ST 370 or MA 421 )
  4. object-oriented programming ( CSC 116 and CSC 216 )
  5. data structures ( CSC 316 )
  6. computer organization and assembly language ( CSC 236 )
  7. operating systems ( CSC 246 )
  8. discrete math ( CSC 226 )
  9. algorithms or automata theory ( CSC 333 )

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


Applications are submitted electronically to the Graduate School. Additionally, the department requires that supplemental information be submitted by the applicant using a separate online system called GradWatch.

Applications are not processed until all of the following items have been received:

  • Graduate School online application
  • Transcripts or academic record
  • GRE General test report (from ETS)
  • TOEFL or IELTS report (from ETS/IELTS)
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Curriculum vitæ or resume (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Supplemental information (areas of interest, and CGPA)

The online application system utilizes abbreviations and codes to designate the graduate degree programs offered. To specify our non-thesis masters (MCS) or distance education masters (MCS-DE), select “Computer Science - MR” or “Computer Science - Distance Track - MR” respectively from the dropdown menu under “Desired Program.” If choosing one of our computer networking programs (traditional classroom or distance education), be certain the program you select from the dropdown menu correctly reflects your departmental choice (“Computer Networking - Computer Sci - MS” or “Computer Networking - Computer Sci Distance Track - MS”).

Transcripts or Academic Record

Applicants should upload an acceptable electronic copy of a scanned transcript or academic record for each post-secondary school listed in the educational history section of the online application.

Transcripts must comply with the department's Transcript Specifications and Instructions for Uploading. Transcript non-compliance is our single most frequently cited cause for application denial prior to review.

Applicants listing NC State University on their education history do not need to upload a NCSU transcript themselves; this will be done for them by the Graduate School, usually within a week after submission of the application.

Note: The Graduate School requires the GPA (grade point average) of US applicants to be at least 3.0 to be considered for admission, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Statement of Purpose

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 using the “Personal Statement” upload button in 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
Letters of Recommendation

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 process. The Online Recommendation Submission Center and the applicant-managed Recommendation Provider List (which has both request and reminder functions), make it possible to be sure your references submit their recommendations before you submit your application.

Supplemental Information

All applicants to Computer Science graduate programs are required to provide the following supplemental information.

  1. The areas of interest of the applicant
  2. The grade point average(s) or cumulative percent average(s) for the applicant's undergraduate (and graduate, if applicable) degree(s).

The instructions for providing this supplemental information, using a system called GradWatch, will be provided by email once the application has been submitted.

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.

To request deferral, send an email to, stating your full name, applicant ID#, and the term to which you want to defer your enrollment and deposit. See our FAQs (search keyword "defer") for more details.

Current NC State Students Wishing to Transfer to Computer Science

Students interested in admission through transfers from other departments at NC State or through co-major applications should email their inquiry to during the last week of April for preliminary screening and instructions:

  1. they have the requisite undergraduate computer science and math coursework, or their graduate-level equivalents, required for admission (see Prerequisites for Application);
  2. they have completed at least two semesters of graduate study at NC State;
  3. they have a GPA of at least 3.6; and
  4. (for students wishing to transfer into a thesis degree, MS or PhD) they have secured a tentative agreement from a Computer Science faculty to supervise and fund their research.
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