Ph.D. admissions

Admission requirements

The following is a list are prerequisites for admission to the Ph.D. program:

  • A candidate must have demonstrated research potential
  • A candidate must have a four year or equivalent undergraduate degree from an accredited university
  • A candidate must have a prior undergraduate or graduate degree in a major with a substantial background in computer science & engineering*
  • A previous Master's degree is not required to apply to the Ph.D. program
  • A candidate must have a demonstrated ability to maintain a 3.45 GPA or greater (There is no minimum GPA requirement to be eligible to apply. Admissions is based on a holistic review of all application materials provided.)
  • For non-native English speakers: All non-native English-speaking students will need to provide a non-expired (exam date within two years program start date) language score even if they previously studied at an English-speaking university so they can be considered for teaching assistantships for their possible funding offers (see bullet points below). 
    • Applicants who do not provide a non-expired score are less likely to be offered admission because many of our funding offers include teaching assistantships as part of the offer.
    • Teaching Assistantship (TA) positions in the department require a score of 23 or higher in speaking portions of the TOEFL or a score of 7 or higher in the speaking portion of the IELTS.
    • The TOEFL and IELTS exams are the only two acceptable tests to qualify for TA positions. Further details can be found in the "language scores" tab below.
    • Language scores should also reflect a strong command of the English language and meet the university's operational standard (includes totals, writing, and reading portions of exams) in addition to our department's minimum requirements in the speaking portions noted above.
  • Applications submitted before the application cycle opens are not complete
  • Incomplete applications will not be reviewed for admission

Well-qualified applicants without an undergraduate/graduate computer science major will be considered; applicants with a computer science major are preferred.

Application instructions

All degree applicants must apply online using the Office of Graduate Admissions system and all letter writers must use the online recommendation system. Please visit the Office of Graduate Studies for full Graduate School application instructions. 

Note on the GRE: We do not require or accept GRE scores as part of the application process. While you will see a section in the application to enter GRE test scores and upload an unofficial score sheet, please do not enter this information or send your official GRE test scores for our program. GRE test scores that are submitted as part of an application for our program will not be reviewed.

The following material should be included in the Graduate School application:

  • Personal statement/statement of purpose

    Concisely discuss your computer science educational, research, or industrial background as they relate to your objectives. Include any unique experiences relevant to the research you have done. Discuss why you are applying to the University of Minnesota. Please include names of faculty members and research groups at the University of Minnesota whose research is of interest to you. Use this area to list any extenuating circumstances such as poor grades or test scores. (4000 character limit strongly recommended; does not include spaces, not strictly enforced)

  • Diversity Statement

This is only required of domestic applicants. A 4000-character limit (not including spaces) is recommended. International applicants do not need to complete this statement, but they are welcome to complete a statement.

The statement should cover how your background, experiences, and achievements will contribute to the University's and our Department’s goal of promoting excellence through diversity and inclusion. If applicable, you should mention hardships or obstacles you have overcome to complete your undergraduate education. Some University of Minnesota graduate student applicants will be considered for funding opportunities, like the DOVE Fellowship, based on their diversity statement.

Potential areas to address include:

  • Hardships you have faced and overcome;
  • Family background;
  • First-generation college student;
  • Non-traditional attributes for computer science/data science;
  • Your lived experience as influenced, informed, or affected by your diverse identities;
  • Your commitment to working toward achieving equity and enhancing diversity within the field of computing, STEM, or within your community;
  • Geographic diversity;
  • Community involvement;
  • Multilingual skills;
  • International travel which changed your perspective;
  • Special talents; and
  • Anything unique you would contribute to the program.

You must indicate all the colleges and graduate schools you have attended. Unofficial transcripts must be uploaded directly to the admissions application per these instructions. Official transcripts are required for those students admitted to the program. Do not fax or mail hard copies of your transcripts.

Language scores
  • Non-native English-speaking students must send official TOEFL or IELTS scores that have not expired (exam date within two years program start date). We do not accept other language exams like Duolingo for our Ph.D. application. For more information on minimum test score requirements for admission consideration, visit the Graduate School’s information pageThe department also requires a speaking score of 23 or higher on the TOEFL or 7 or higher on the IELTS so applicants are qualified for teaching assistantships.

Please note that official scores will appear in your application AFTER you submit the application and pay the fee.

  • Submitting your TOEFL Score:
    • Official TOEFL scores must be sent electronically from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to the University of Minnesota Graduate School (not the department).
    • The ETS institution code for the Twin Cities campus is 6874 (there is no departmental code; if you need to enter code, please use 99 for the department code).
  • Submitting your IELTS Score:
    • IELTS scores can be send electronically or by physical mail. Below is the exact information you should provide to your test centers when requesting scores to be sent to the University of Minnesota:
      • Electronically:
        • When prompted, please select the following:
          Institution/Organization - University of Minnesota Graduate Admissions
          Department/Person - All Campuses
      • Physical mail:
        • Account Name: University of Minnesota Twin Cities Graduate Admissions
        • Address: 309 Johnston Hall
        • Address: 101 Pleasant St SE
        • City: Minneapolis
        • State: MN
        • Zip code: 55455
  • Please allow 4-6 weeks for scores to be sent and matched to your application by the Graduate School. If you have already submitted an application, check your application status to find out if the Graduate School has received your official test scores. Inquiries should be sent to as our department does not process these scores.
  • Internal applicants (current UMN undergraduate students or graduate students in other programs) can take the SETTA exam (need an ELP 1 or ELP 2 score) in order to qualify for TA appointments and admission as an alternative to taking the TOEFL or IELTS. 

This should include:

  • Educational background and degrees
  • Teaching or research experience
  • A list of papers/publications (URLs included)
  • Computer languages in which you are proficient
  • Other information that will advance your application can be uploaded in PDF format
Recommendation letters
  • Provide the names and e-mail address of three recommenders along with all other requested information. 
  • The CS&E department does not accept hard copies of recommendation letters—they must be submitted through the online system.
  • Letters of recommendation should arrive by the posted application deadline.

Please e-mail with any questions you may have about the admissions process. 

Optional items

The following items are optional in the application:

  • Diversity statement (for international applicants only—this is required for domestic applicants)
  • Extenuating circumstances statement
  • Writing sample
  • Description of research - examples include publications, research papers, or research you are interested in conducting

Unfortunately, the CS&E department is unable to review your application material prior to submission or make document corrections once your application has been submitted.

Goldy Gopher on a gold background

Graduate School Admissions

309 Johnston Hall
101 Pleasant St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Exterior of Keller Hall on a sunny day

Computer Science Graduate Admissions

4-192 Keller Hall
200 Union St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455