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Application Process

Updated June 21, 2016
We have a small MS program. Very few international MS applicants will be admitted to our MS program.
Updated April 25, 2016
Added information about requiring proof of degree conferral to applicants who have received any degree prior to applying to MSU.

MSU students The application for admission, application fee, and all the required supporting documents should be received at least two months prior to your desired semester of enrollment (see the deadlines below).

All outstanding applicants are automatically considered for graduate assistantships (teaching and research) and fellowships.

Institution and Program Codes

  • GRE and TOEFL Codes
    • GRE and TOEFL Institution Code for Michigan State University -- 1465
    • GRE Department and Major Field Code for Computer Science -- 0402
    • TOEFL Department Code for Computer Science -- 78
  • Michigan State University Internal Program Codes
    • Michigan State University Code for MS program in Computer Science -- 2335
    • Michigan State University Code for PhD program in Computer Science -- 2336

Applicants with Fellowships/Scholarships

If you have an external fellowship or scholarship of some kind, please email graddir@cse.msu.edu with information about your fellowship/scholarship including

  • The name of the fellowship or scholarship (e.g. Fulbright).
  • The dates the fellowship or scholarship will cover (e.g. August 2016-August 2019).
  • The amount of support provided by the fellowship or scholarship (e.g. Tuition and fees or $20,000/year).

Three Step Application Process

There are three main steps you must follow to complete your application.

  1. Complete the Online MSU Application for Graduate Studies. You will be required to pay an application fee. While completing this application, please note the following.

    1. Text boxes will be provided for you to fill out two statements, an academic statement and a personal statement.
      1. Do not enter your full statements in the text boxes in the MSU graduate application. Instead, type in these text boxes that ``Full statement will be uploaded using the graduate student portal.''
      2. However, please do answer the supplemental questions at the end of the application even though your statements may include responses to these questions. Responses to these questions are used by the admissions committee to help identify strong applicants to nominate for university and college fellowships. Answering these questions will increase the chances that your application is considered for these fellowships.
    2. Save your MSU applicant ID and password as you will need this to complete the second step of the application process.
  2. Upload/enter additional application materials/information using the graduate student education portal which you access with your MSU applicant ID and password.
    1. Enter information for references who will then be asked to submit letters of recommendation.
      1. You need 3 references.
      2. Ideally, at least two references should be college faculty who know you well.
      3. You can complete this step prior to submitting your MSU graduate application. You are strongly encouraged to do so to give your references more time to complete their letters.
    2. Upload your full academic and personal statements. Please follow the guidelines below when completing your statements.
      1. Academic Statement
      2. Personal Statement
    3. Transcripts and Degree Certificates
      • Unofficial transcript for review
        • For review purposes only, you must upload an unofficial transcript of all college work (undergraduate and graduate) in the graduate student portal.
        • For this uploaded unofficial transcript, do NOT upload a secure transcript. This complicates review of your application as our program will not be able to automatically concatenate all the uploaded files into a convenient PDF. Just upload an unofficial transcript in regular PDF format with no security features.
        • Please ensure that you include the back side of one transcript page (this back side often includes critical rating/scale information); no need for more than one back side page.
      • Official transcript(s) and degree certificate(s) for admission
        • We also will need official transcripts for admission. The documents needed depend on the following scenarios:
          • You will have received a Bachelor's degree (or Masters degree) prior to April 15 for Fall applications or August 15 for Spring applications.
            • In this case, you must arrange for delivery of official transcripts and proof that you have received your degree before you can be admitted to our graduate programs. This proof might be your official transcript if it includes language that your degree has been conferred. For international students especially, this proof often is in the form of a certificate. You must submit both an English language certificate plus an original language certificate. These documents must be sent directly from your institution to MSU.
          • You will NOT have received a Bachelor's degree prior to April 15 for Fall applications or August 15 for Spring applications.
            • In this case, you must arrange for delivery of official transcript(s) directly from the institution(s) to MSU.
        • All official documents must be sent directly from each university in a sealed envelope. These documents should be sent to the following address:

          Office of Admissions
          Michigan State University
          Hannah Administration Building
          426 Auditorium Road, Room 250
          East Lansing, MI 48824
          U.S.A.

      • If you are applying for admission in fall semester and will graduate in December, please submit the unofficial transcript online as early as possible but wait to submit your official transcript and certificate until it reflects that you have graduated as MSU will require these documents before processing your admission and giving you an I-20 if you are an international applicant.
      • For applicants with degrees from Chinese universities, please follow the above process. In particular, during the application process, MSU does NOT require CDGDC verification of transcripts.
      • If you are admitted to the computer science MS or PhD program, MSU will eventually require CDGDC verification of your final bachelor degree transcript and bachelor degree. Note that CDGDC verification of MS degrees or transcripts is never required.
      • CSE will REIMBURSE you for the cost of CDGDC verification once you arrive and are officially an MSU student. We will work with you to make this verification process as easy as possible.
      • In general, applicants should have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale.
    4. Upload your resume or CV.
    5. Upload any published papers (optional).
    6. For those needing to provide proof of financial support, you may upload your Affadavit of Support or Official Bank Statements. However, this can be supplied after you are admitted to our graduate program.
    7. Test scores. For review purposes only, you may upload copies of your TOEFL (or equivalent) and general GRE scores in the graduate education portal (use type other). Note that you still need to have the official scores sent directly to us as described below.
  3. Take required tests and arrange for scores to be sent to MSU using codes below.
    1. GRE and TOEFL Codes
      • GRE and TOEFL Institution Code for Michigan State University -- 1465
      • GRE Department and Major Field Code for Computer Science -- 0402
      • TOEFL Department Code for Computer Science -- 78
    2. TOEFL scores (for international applicants whose native language is not English). Applicants must take the internet-based test, not the paper-based test, unless there is extreme difficulty in doing so. If you request a waiver of the internet-based test, send email requesting this waiver to graddir@cse.msu.edu. If you wish to be considered for a teaching assistantship, you are strongly encouraged to take the test. The minimum required TOEFL score for regular admission is a total score of 80. Furthermore, the writing subscore must be at least 22, and the reading, listening, and speaking subscores must be at least 19. MSU does accept the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test score. The minimum required IELTS score for regular admission is an average score of 6.5.

    3. GRE General Test. The median GRE scores for recently admitted graduate students are 164 quantitative, 153 verbal, and 3.0 analytical writing. Note that different faculty weigh GRE scores differently and we do not use GRE scores to eliminate any applicants from consideration.

Admission decisions are based on your overall record including grades, academic background, research experience and previous publications, test scores (GRE, TOEFL), letters of recommendation, work experience, and other information. Weaknesses in one area (e.g. test scores) may be compensated by strengths in another area (grades or previous research experience). 

Application Deadlines

SPRING September 15th - Application acceptance closing date for both domestic and international applicants
FALL

December 31 -Final date for which submitted applications are guaranteed full consideration for university fellowships (U. S. citizens and permanent residents only) and college fellowships (U. S. citizens, permanent residents, and international applicants).

January 15 - Application acceptance closing date for all applications; we continue to review applications submitted after January 15, but we cannot guarantee full consideration.


We continue to accept complete applications after these deadlines, but there is no guarantee a late application will receive full consideration.

Decision Dates

You can inquire about the status of your application using the graduate student education portal which you access with your applicant ID and password. For fall semester admission, admission offers with support will be sent out by early April. Typically a few admissions offers are made after April 15. For spring semester admission, admission offers with support will be sent out by the end of October.

Transfer Applicants

If you are not a current Michigan State University student, Michigan State University does not have a separate transfer application to either the Masters or Doctoral program. You must submit a complete application to our program. If admitted to our Masters program, the maximum number of credits you can transfer is 9 credits which means you would still need to take a minimum of 21 credits at Michigan State University. Approval of transfer credits is subject to the approval of the Graduate Director and will be evaluated after admission decisions are made.

If you are a current Michigan State University student enrolled in a different graduate degree program, you should send the following materials to graddir@cse.msu.edu:

  • CV which includes a summary of your GRE scores and TOEFL scores if you are an international student
  • Transcripts from previous universities (unofficial copies ok, but we will verify against originals held by your current department) as well as an unofficial transcript from MSU
  • Personal Statement
  • Academic Statement
  • Contact information for three references who will be asked to provide recommendation letters.
If you do not have a degree in computer science prior to your application, please make sure to carefully review the information in the next section.

Requirements for Graduate Program Applicants Without a Degree in Computer Science

The breadth of academic programs at Michigan State University involving computing and information is rapidly expanding to include a variety of interdisciplinary areas and emerging fields. As a result, the Department encourages students to apply to the graduate program even if they do not have a B.S. or M.S. degree in computer science.

Naturally, to be successful in a Computer Science graduate degree program, an appropriate background level must be achieved. The following requirements indicate what background is needed before your application to our graduate programs will be seriously considered.

  1. Courses in mathematics including calculus. Some areas may also require linear (matrix) algebra as well as probability and statistics.
  2. A course in discrete mathematics and discrete structures (CSE 260)
  3. A course in computer organization and architecture (CSE 320)
  4. Courses in data structures and algorithms, object-oriented programming and software design (CSE 331 and CSE 335).

Prior to applying to MSU, you must satisfy the above requirements. If you are missing background in one or more areas, you must take the relevant coursework (at MSU or elsewhere) prior to submitting an application.


Course: CSE 260 Discrete Structures in Computer Science
Prerequisite:(MTH 133 or MTH 126 or MTH 153H or LBS 119)
Description:Propositional and first order logic. Equivalence and methods of proof. Basics of counting. Set operations, relations, functions. Grammars and finite state automata. Discrete probability. Applications to computer science and engineering.

Course: CSE 320 Computer Organization and Architecture
Prerequisite:(CSE 232 and CSE 260)
Description:Boolean algebra and digital logic. Combinational and sequential circuits. Representations of data and instructions. Architecture and major components of computer systems. Assembly language programming and interfacing to high level languages. Assembler and linker processing.

Course: CSE 331 Algorithms and Data Structures
Prerequisite:(CSE 232 and CSE 260)
Description:Linear data structures, trees, graphs and algorithms which operate on them. Fundamental algorithms for searching, sorting, string matching, graph problems. Design and analysis of algorithms.

Course: CSE 335 Object-oriented Software Design
Prerequisite:(CSE 232 and CSE 260)
Description:Development of large software products, libraries, and product families. Object-oriented programming using inheritance and polymorphism. Design methods. Specification and the use of contracts to design reliable software. Configuration management and life-cycle issues.