Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Students.

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  • How do I apply?
  • The application opens every September for the following academic year. Check the Office of Graduate Studies’ application page for more information.
  • Besides an application form, what kind of supporting materials are required?
  • See How to Apply for more information on the supporting materials.
  • How can I determine if my application materials have arrived?
  • You can check your application by logging back into where you applied.
  • I don’t have the application fee. Can I pay the fee after I have been admitted?
  • No, we do not process any application until we have received an application fee.
  • How long will it take to find out if I have been accepted into the program?
  • Once a completed application and all supporting materials have been received, the application will be submitted to the our admissions committee. Based on a review of application materials, a recommendation is made to accept or decline an applicant’s request for admission. That recommendation is forwarded to the Dean of Graduate Studies for verification of admission requirements.  Notification of admissions decisions will be communicated in writing by Graduate Studies. Neither Graduate Studies nor the CS graduate program will respond to telephone or email inquiries for admissions decisions. The admissions committee does not begin reviewing applications until late January. Most decisions are communicated by early spring.
  • How can I check the status of my application?
  • You can check the status of your admissions application by logging back into the webpage where you originally applied. The Office of Graduate Studies reports decisions through email after they have been communicated by the department.
  • Can you tell me the status of my application if I contact your program?
  • No, we cannot communicate admissions decisions via email or phone. Admission decisions can only be communicated by UC Davis Graduate Studies via the admissions system. If the status of your application is "Submitted", then an admission decision has not yet been made to your application. You may check your application status online if you log back into your application in the admissions system where you originally applied. Applications are marked completed once all required documents are processed.


  • What qualities do you look for in a good candidate?
  • Our primary goal in selecting students for our graduate program is to find individuals who have demonstrated academic achievement, a solid academic background in computer science via completion of an undergraduate program comparable to the undergraduate program at UC Davis, and the potential to tackle the complex thinking and writing that graduate study requires. However, we also welcome outstanding students from a variety of backgrounds, as long as they have a good grounding in computer science. We evaluate this by looking at specific coursework in computer science. We also use your statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores.

  • My undergraduate degree is in another major. What options do I have to get into the GGCS program?
  • The GGCS admissions committee is primarily looking for individuals who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement in computer science. However, students with a related major (electrical engineering, mathematics, physics, so on) may have the ability to do well in our program. In addition, truly exceptional students with a background in a field not related to computer science have been admitted to our program. These students demonstrated their academic potential through their undergraduate experience, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation. The likelihood of admission to the program in any year depends on the applicant pool. In recent years, the applicant pool has become increasingly competitive. Very few students without a solid academic background in computer science through completing the undergraduate proficiencies for their intended degree, M.S. or Ph.D. However, completion of this list of courses alone is rarely sufficient to gain admission.

  • Although I don’t have an academic background in CS, I have considerable professional experience. Will this improve my chances for admission?
  • While work experience will augment your application materials, the application review is concerned mostly with your academic qualifications, and your preparation to succeed in a rigorous, theoretical, research-based academic program.

  • Can you give me an idea of my chances for admission?
  • Because the applicant pool varies from year to year, we are unable to do this. The answers to some of the following FAQs will help you determine if you meet the requirements for admission. In general, if your undergraduate record is excellent and your GRE scores are high (90th percentile and above for all tests), we would encourage you to apply. Please remember that in a large and competitive applicant pool, some applicants who meet all requirements will not be offered admission.

  • What are the prerequisites for graduate study in computer science at UC Davis?
  • The GGCS requires that students demonstrate a high level of proficiency in five key areas: Theory, Architecture, Operating Systems, Programming Languages and Mathematics. For specific UC Davis courses that fulfill these requirements, see the undergraduate proficiencies for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.

  • I don’t have the necessary undergraduate preparation for admission. Can I still be accepted?
  • All students accepted into the GGCS are screened for fulfillment of undergraduate proficiencies for their intended degree, M.S. or Ph.D. Very few applicants are admitted prior to completion of the majority of these courses.

  • If I have professional work experience in the computer industry, can I use that to fulfill my undergraduate proficiencies?
  • Students who are prepared through professional experience may take a graduate-level course to fulfill both the undergraduate proficiency and satisfy a graduate-course requirement. Approval to do this is made after consultation with the faculty graduate adviser. In general, industry experience does not replace academic preparation.

  • How competitive is admission and obtaining aid?
  • Admission to the Graduate Group in Computer Science is highly competitive. We review more than 2000 applications every year and admit only the top 10%. Financial assistance for graduate study comes in the form of Fellowships, Teaching Assistantships (TAs) and Graduate Student Research (GSR) positions. Approximately 70% of those Ph.D.s who choose to attend have a guarantee of support for at least 2 years. Master students generally do not receive an offer of support.

GRE (Graduate Record Examinations)

  • Is the GRE required? [Updated 11/01 for Fall 2022 admission]
  • Due to COVID-19, the GRE will not be required or accepted for Fall 2022 admission. 

  • Is the Computer Science subject test required?
  • The Computer Science subject test is no longer offered by ETS. Thus, it is not required for admission.

  • The GRE exam format changed in October 2002 and August 2011. Will you still accept scores from tests taken prior to those dates?
  • No. The department requires scores from the GRE taken within the past five years. Scores that are older than five years will not be considered.

  • If I don’t provide original GRE and/or TOEFL scores with my application, will I still be evaluated for admission?
  • The department can review an applicant’s file based on photocopies of the examinee’s score report sent to you by ETS. However, we must receive original scores before an admission decision can be communicated to you.

  • What are your institution and department GRE and TOEFL codes?
  • The ETS institution code for UC Davis is 4834. You must use the correct institution code for UC Davis (4834) but it is not necessary to use a specific department code. Regardless of what department code you enter, your GRE and TOEFL scores will still be matched to your application.

Financial Aid and Assistance

  • How do I apply for financial aid?
  • All domestic applicants must file a FAFSA. This application is essential in order to qualify for many types of financial assistance including any departmental or campus fellowship. The application can be filled out online at the FAFSA website. This application is necessary to qualify for many types of financial assistance including most departmental awards. Information about student loans and Cal Grants can be obtained from the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. We also encourage all applicants to file an application for fellowships prior to the January 15th deadline. This application is necessary to qualify for non-resident tuition waivers and other departmental fellowships.

  • What forms of financial assistance are available?
  • The standard form of Ph.D. graduate student support is a combination of either a 50% TA position or fellowship for the first three quarters, and either a 50% TA or 47% GSR position for the remainder of a student’s academic career. The amount and type of aid that the department can offer varies from year to year depending on the number of TA and GSR positions that are available, the fellowships that the department is authorized to award, and the number of students requesting financial assistance. It has become increasingly difficult to provide funding for M.S. students. In addition, there are also fellowships. We strongly encourage all qualified applicants to apply for external fellowships offered by both government and private agencies. Recipients of fellowships such as NSF, NPSC, and DOE fellowships are highly regarded as applicants. However, the deadline for some of the most prestigious and highly competitive fellowships is generally the first week in November, so an early start on the application process is essential. A complete list of external fellowships and their respective deadlines can be found on the Office of Graduate Studies’ website.

  • What are the estimated yearly expenses for a graduate student?
  • The estimated expenses for graduate students may be found on the Financial Aid website.

  • Are Teaching Assistantships (TA) and Graduate Student Research (GSR) positions available?
  • Many graduate students serve in one of these two positions for all or most of their graduate student career. These positions offer professional development, research opportunities and significant financial rewards. In addition to a monthly salary, these positions provide a full or partial fee waiver. We currently offer most qualified graduate students a TA position during the first year of study. Students entering with a strong background in computer science may be offered a GSR position if there is a good match between a research program and a student’s background. The rapid increase in Ph.D. enrollments in the past two years has significantly decreased the likelihood of TA or GSR funding for M.S. students.

  • How do I apply for a Teaching Assistantship?
  • If a student is admitted and accepts the offer to attend UC Davis, a TA application will be sent at the end of the summer. This application is the only way to apply for a TA position.

  • Is there funding available for non-resident tuition?
  • Students at the University of California who are not California residents are required to pay non-resident tuition. Each year we have a limited number of non-resident tuition fellowships (NRTFs) to award. In order to be a competitive candidate for this type of fellowship, all your application materials must be filed no later than January 15. Domestic applicants must file a FAFSA to be awarded a NRTF.

  • Is it possible to establish California residency?
  • Domestic students (US citizens and permanent residents) are usually eligible for California residency after one year if certain requirements are met. After residency is established, a student no longer pays non-resident tuition. All students, regardless of residency status, pay educational fees. All questions regarding California residency must be directed to the Residency Deputy in the Office of the University Registrar. For more information, see the General Catalog’s page on residency. Certain non-resident students may qualify for in-state fees and a waiver of non-resident tuition if they attended at least three years and graduated from a California high school. International students on F-1 or J-1 visas cannot establish California residency and therefore are assessed non-resident tuition the entire time they are a graduate student. Some students on H-1B visas may qualify for California residency after 12 months, but full time student status may violate visa provisions. All visa questions should be referred to Services for International Students and Scholars.

For additional questions, please see our programs information or contact our Graduate Advisors: