Frequently Asked Questions About Master's Admissions
Q: What are the criteria for admission to the master's program in computer science at Brown?
A: We consider numerous criteria including academic performance, letters of recommendation and industrial experience. We also consider GRE scores, TOEFL scores (if relevant), motivation, work experience, awards, honors, prizes, and other accomplishments. Because master's applicants are so diverse, no single set of critera adequately cover all the cases. In more detail, we are looking for:
- Academic performance: The GPA is not the only criterion. Grades in computer science and related disciplines (e.g., math) count more than grades in other areas. Also, we take into account the fact that at some very competitive schools it is very difficult to achieve a high GPA.
- Letters of recommendation: Letters must give a detailed, factual, and candid evaluation of the applicant's capabilities. Rankings and comparisons with other students are very useful. Ask your recommender to follow these guidelines. Remind your recommenders of deadlines to ensure they are met. We routinely find ourselves unable to admit potentially qualified students because their letters of recommendation have not arrived in time.
- Work experience: Please describe any work experience you might have. Obviously not all applicants have work experience, but for those who do, some description of it helps us better evaluate your application.
- General GRE scores: These scores let us compare the basic skills of applicants from diverse backgrounds. We are aware that: test performance can improve considerably with practice, some people do not perform well on tests, and the verbal GRE is harder for some foreign applicants. While we do not require general test scores, the test provides an additional objective form of evaluation that is often helpful in determining an applicant's abilities.
- Subject GRE scores: The subject test scores are most useful when they are from the computer science exam. While we do not require subject test scores, the test provides an additional objective form of evaluation that is often helpful in determining an applicant's abilities.
- TOEFL and IELTS scores: Applicants whose native language is not English and who have not received a college degree from an institution in an English-speaking country must take the TOEFL exam. Additional evidence (e.g., certificate of completion of an English course) may also be submitted. We generally do not consider applicants who have scored below 620 (PBT) or 260 (CBT) or IBT (105), and prefer scores higher than that. The corresponding minimum IELTS score is 7.5.
- Statement: The statement that accompanies your application helps us learn more about you.
- Awards, honors, and prizes: Unless they are well known (e.g., NSF fellowship or graduation with honors), please give details about them (how many candidates? how many awards? what were the selection criteria?). This is especially important for foreign applicants. If these awards are really important, we would expect your recommenders to mention them.
- Research experience: Research experience is not required for master's applicants and many of our applicants do not have any, but you can use experience you've had to demonstrate your ability to handle graduate-level computer science material.
Q: Can I still apply if I cannot have all the material ready by the deadline?
A: Unfortunately not. We have two distinct admissions seasons. Students applying for spring admission, the deadline is December 11th. Students applying for fall admission have a deadline of March 15th. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and no applications will be accepted after the deadline.
Note that we need a complete application, including letters of recommendation AND OFFICIAL SCORE REPORTS, before we can make admission decisions. Therefore, please give your letter writers enough time to write and mail your letters of support.
Q: Do I have to begin graduate study in September?
A: No. You can begin your study in the spring semester (which begins in late January) if you wish. Note, however, that we have only one application round every year.
Q: I cannot afford the application fee. Can you waive it?
A: The Graduate School can waive this fee, but does so only for U.S.
citizens on the basis on verifiable need. To request a waiver, write to
the Graduate School (or send email to
explaining your situation. If your request is denied, your application
is kept on hold during the application process and is reactivated if the
application fee is paid.
Q: Do you have financial aid available for ScM students?
A: Sorry, we do not offer funding to ScM students. You will need to apply to external sources of support.
Q: Are scans of any of the application material acceptable?
A: Scanned copies are encouraged as part of the initial application; original documents are required if you are admitted and decide to enroll here. Please send all documents to the Graduate School, not the Computer Science Department.
Q: Do you admit students only from certain elite universities and reject ones not from there?
A: We admit only outstanding students to our program. The institution you attended is just one of many indicators we consider. In particular, we recognize that excellent students graduate from all kinds of institutions; it is what they do there and after graduation that makes theirs applications stand out. Thus we sometimes reject students from leading American and international institutions and accept students who did not attend such universities.
Q: I have earned my Bachelor's degree from a three-year degree program. Can I still apply for a Master's degree?
A: The three-year programs we know about, specifically those in India, are acceptable and students from those programs can apply here. If you are coming from a program with which we are not familiar, we many need information from you before acting on your application.
Q: Do I have to take the GRE General exam?
A: The department does not require the General exam for master's applicants. Your General test scores give us an additional objective form of evaluation. On the other hand, some students have extremely strong records, and this strength is evident from their application. For such students, the General test score does not provide much additional information. In the end, it's your call.
Q: Do I have to take the GRE Subject exam?
A: The department does not require the Subject exam. If you do take it, the scores most useful to us would naturally be those from computer science. Your Subject test scores give us an additional objective form of evaluation. On the other hand, some students have extremely strong records, and this strength is evident from their application. For such students, the Subject test score does not provide much additional information. In the end, it's your call.
Q: Can I contact the graduate school by phone or electronic mail?
A: The graduate school's contact information is on their Web page.
Q: Where do I send my transcripts, score reports, etc?
A: Please send supplemental materials to:
Brown Graduate School, 47 George Street, Box 1867, Providence, RI 02912.
Q: Should I use the institution code, the department code or both for the GRE and TOEFL?
A: The GRE institution code is 3094 and the GRE department code is 0402. For the TOEFL, you should use the school code which is 3094 and the department code 78. Note that answers to these questions and many like them may be found at our graduate school website: http://gradschool.brown.edu/.
Q: Have you received all my application materials?
A: Please contact the Graduate School directly at Graduate_School@Brown.edu for questions relating to the online application system or to see if all of your materials have arrived.
Q: Who decides whom to admit?
A: Officially, admissions are generated by the Graduate School of Brown University. In practice, the Computer Science Department (specifically, a group of faculty members) evaluates your application and makes recommendations to the Graduate School, which typically follows our recommendations. Therefore, you are generating your application (in particular, your statement) to be read primarily by computer science faculty.
Q: What if I have other questions?
A: You can email the department at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to mention that
your question is about master's admissions.