Application Process

Updated August 10, 2021
MSU is transitioning to a new application system. Information below will be updated over the course of Fall 2021 as we become more familiar with the new system.
We have a small MS program. Very few international MS applicants will be admitted to our MS program.

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.

Applicants with Fellowships/Scholarships

If you have an external fellowship or scholarship of some kind, please specify what you have applied for in the "Other Information" tab in the application. You can specify any external support you have or have applied for in the Financial Aid section.

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.
    • On the "Other Information" tab in the application, there is a question for "Major Preference". The majors are organized by College.The Computer Science majors are within the College of Engineering. You need to scroll down about halfway through the long list to find our majors. In the future, the application will have a text search box which will take you to the major name more quickly. Once the appropriate major is selected, a tab for CSE supplemental questions will appear. Make sure to answer all of those questions.
    • Enter information for references who will then be asked to submit letters of recommendation using the References tab in the application.
      • You need 3 references.
      • Ideally, at least two references should be college faculty who know you well.
      • 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.
    • Upload your full academic and personal statements in the Other Information tab. Please follow the guidelines below when completing your statements.
    • Enter relevant test scores in the Test Scores tab. The only required test score is a test score for English language proficiency for international applicants whose native language is not English. Full information about English language proficiency requirements is available here. Note that some applicants may be able to waive the English language proficiency requirement due to a variety of reasons which are specified here. In the application, if you feel might meet the conditions for waiving the English language proficiency requirement, please describe why and enter supporting information in the "ELP Waiver" tab section.

      The general GRE test is highly recommended but not required. 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.

      • For review purposes only, upload PDF copies of your test score results in the portal that you will access after officially submitting your application.
      • Have your official test scores sent directly to MSU using the codes below. Electronic submissions of test scores can be sent directly from the testing authority to admis@msu.edu. Please note that test scores sent directly from the applicant will not be accepted.
        • 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
    • Feel free to skip the Employment and Activities tabs. Just make sure to upload your CV later in the portal.
    • Be sure to enter each college or university you attended in the Academic History tab. For each institution, you will need to have official transcripts sent to MSU. Also, please do enter your Grade Point Average (GPA) in the corresponding text boxes.
    • International applicants will see a tab labeled "Financial Support". Use this tab to specify any dependents who would accompany you if you do enroll at MSU. You can also fill out the full affadavit of support information in case you are not awarded any support from MSU, but you can fill out this information later after admission.
  2. After submitting your application, pay the application fee.
  3. After paying the application fee, upload additional materials into the application portal.
    • 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.
      • In general, applicants should have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale.
    • Upload your CV or resume, CV preferred.
    • Upload any published papers (optional).

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 see the status of your application using the application portal. You can also update your references in the application portal. 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.