Traditional MS and PhD Program

Application Instructions

Application process

This is the process for all applicants other than current UW–Madison graduate students. Applications are accepted for fall semester admission only. Completed applications are due no later than December 15.

Apply for the Computer Sciences MS or PhD program on the Graduate School website. Departmental requirements for admission are more stringent than those of the Graduate School. The following items must be submitted in order to be considered by the department:

  • Letters of recommendation. All applicants, whether requesting financial aid or not, must have three letters of recommendation. Recommendations are submitted online to the Graduate School as part of the application process.
  • GRE general scores. We do not require  the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), offered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), but if you take it and would like to have your scores considered, request that ETS send the scores to UW–Madison, institution code 1846. Please note that processing of scores takes up to six weeks.
  • Official school records. Official transcripts are required from each institution where the applicant did prior academic work. Applicants must scan their official transcript or official student record that has been issued by the institution into the graduate school application. Paper transcripts or electronic transcripts will not be accepted. If an institution does not issue official transcripts, a letter from an administrator of the institution should be scanned into the application instead. The letter should include: a) year of admission; b) number of years enrolled at the institution; c) reference to the quality of work (analysis of grading system); d) evidence that examinations were passed; e) diploma certifying degree, class and year; and f) General Certificate of Education or equivalent.
  • Resume or CV
  • Personal statement (Statement of Purpose). You can find tips for writing your statement of purpose and preparing to apply on the grad school’s website
  • Evidence of English proficiency. An applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score. IELTS or TOEFL are acceptable. See the Graduate School requirements for more details.

Process for current UW–Madison graduate students

Graduate students who are currently enrolled in a graduate program at UW–Madison need to follow a different procedure for:

  • Obtaining a second MS in CS, provided that they already have a record in CS graduate courses that is uniformly excellent. Applications are accepted three times during each academic year, with deadlines of
    • one week before the start of classes in the Spring term for admission in Spring term,
    • the last day of classes in Spring term for admission in Summer term, and
    • one week before the start of classes in the Fall term for admission in Fall term.
  • Changing the major to CS, with the intention of completing a PhD in CS. Applications are normally accepted for fall semester admission only, and the deadline is January 1.
  • Switching from the professional track in CS to the traditional track in CS, with the intention of completing a PhD in CS. Applications are normally accepted for fall semester admission only, and the deadline is January 1.

Changing your major to the PhD Program

Currently enrolled graduate students who wish to change their major to undertake a PhD in computer sciences must fill out the application form and submit it to the CS Graduate Coordinator, along with the following materials:

  1. A statement of purpose explaining the reasons for your interest in transferring to the CS graduate program and your previous experiences with our department (courses taken, independent study programs with a CS advisor, etc.).
  2. A copy of your original application to the UW graduate program to which you were admitted.
  3. Transcripts for coursework from UW–Madison and from previous educational institutions, dating back to and including undergraduate institution(s).
  4. Three letters of recommendation from UW–Madison faculty members, at least two of which must be from a faculty member whose primary academic appointment is in CS.
  5. GRE scores are not required.

Applications must be received by January 1 to be considered for admission in the subsequent fall semester. Applications are not considered at other times of the year nor for starting times other than the fall semester. International students are responsible for contacting International Student Services at UW to discuss any possible effect the change of program may have on their immigration status.