Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Should I apply to the CSE or Computer Science (CS) degree program?
The CSE program includes emphases in areas such as high performance computing, data analytics, machine learning & visualization (e.g., for web search or data analytics), modeling and simulation, computational mathematics and numerical computing, computational science, and computational engineering, as discussed elsewhere on this web site. Also, the CSE degree program includes an emphasis on interdisciplinary research.
The CS and CSE degree programs have different curriculum requirements. For example, the CS program requires coursework in theoretical computer science and computer systems. The CSE program includes a greater emphasis in coursework in the areas listed above, with computing theory and systems available either as optional courses, or integrated with other topics in CSE courses (for example high performance computing or CSE algorithms).
Q. How should I select a home unit in the CSE program?
For PhD students, an important consideration is the home unit of the program faculty with whom you have the closest research interests, since such faculty will most likely become your research advisor(s). In general, students homed in a particular discipline will be expected to have some proficiency within that discipline; for example, students homed in the School of Biology would be expected to have or develop a proficiency in Biology.
Q. Can I change home unit once I have been admitted to the program?
Yes, with the approval of the home unit to which you are transferring. In most cases, an important consideration in granting such requests will be if a potential research advisor(s) in the home unit to which you wish to transfer has been identified.
Q. When do you admit new students?
For most home units, students are admitted in the Spring and Fall semesters. Please refer to the home unit website for deadlines.
Q. What is the minimum TOEFL score?
The minimum scores vary among the home units.
Q. Is the GRE test required?
All home units require the GRE general test. The subject test may be required in some home units.
Q. Who makes admissions decisions?
Admissions decisions are made with the concurrence of several members of the program faculty. Individual faculty members cannot make admissions decisions.
Q. I don’t have a master’s degree, but I want to apply to the Ph.D. program. Can I be directly admitted to the Ph.D. program after the bachelor’s degree?
Q. If I am admitted to the master’s program and later decide that the Ph.D. degree is what I really want do I have to reapply as a Ph.D. applicant?
Yes and no. You would not have to formally reapply through the Georgia Tech Office of Graduate Studies but you must submit an application to the CSE Graduate Office seeking to be “converted” to Ph.D. status. This informal application, however, will be scrutinized just as if you are a new Ph.D. applicant. We encourage students interested in transferring to consult with the their home unit coordinator and/or the CSE program director before submitting such a request.
Q. I am interested in your master degree program but my undergraduate degree is not in computer science, mathematics, a physical science (e.g., physics, chemistry, or biology) or engineering. Can I still be considered for admission?
Yes. Students from any undergraduate background are encouraged to apply, and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. All aspects of the applicant’s background will be considered, including work or other academic experience in deriving admission decisions. The curriculum does require a certain amount of background in mathematics (e.g., calculus) and computing (computer programming) to succeed. In some cases, students may be required to satisfy deficiencies in their background, e.g., by completing preparatory coursework, as a condition for admission.
Q. My background isn’t in computers, but I’ve worked with them a lot. What types of prerequisite courses should I take to prepare me for the program?
Students entering the program should have developed a proficiency in programming in a high level language. C, FORTRAN and Java are often used in the CSE discipline. Computer science courses in software design and development, algorithms, and data structures would be useful, as well as some introduction to computer architecture. Students deficient in software development skills may still gain admission, but should expect to take some additional coursework.
Q. In your list of admissions criteria, you indicate that you seek “credible” letters of recommendation. What does that mean?
If you are able to do so, our preference (especially for Ph.D. applicants) is to see letters that can speak to your academic capabilities and for PhD students, potential to conduct research. Often, letters from distinguished faculty at universities or individuals in research laboratories can speak to these issues in a compelling way.
Q. I am coming in as a Ph.D. student but I would like to earn a master’s degree during the course of my work. Is this possible?
Q. I have accepted your offer of admission for this fall semester. However, I want to wait until next year to start. Is this possible?
An admitted applicant is sometimes allowed to defer their admission for up to one year. Such situations are handled on a case-by-case basis.
Q. If I am getting two MS degrees, can courses be double counted towards both degrees?
Yes, you can double-count up to 6 credits.
Q. How many courses can be transferred to a MS CSE degree?
A maximum of 6 credit hours can be transferred to the MS CSE degree provided the courses are approved for transfer by the CSE home unit coordinator and the CSE program director, and the courses were not used to complete another degree. All transfer credit must be approved during the first semester of matriculation.
Q. Can courses be transferred if a student is switching from another MS degree program to the CSE MS program, and is not completing the other program?
In this situation, you should complete a change of major form. All relevant courses can be applied to help fulfill the requirements of the CSE MS program.
Q. Where can I find approved application specialization and computation specialization courses to fulfill the CSE degree requirements?
The CSE graduate program handbook lists courses in the application and computation specialization that have been pre-approved. Students wishing to take courses not on these lists should get them approved by the CSE home unit coordinator and the CSE program director.
Q. Are the admission and degree requirements the same for online and campus students?
Q. Can the CSE MS degree be completed entirely remotely?
Yes, provided the specialization courses you would like to take are offered through distance learning. Check the set of distance learning course offerings from the Georgia Tech Professional Education website and the CSE student handbook to determine if suitable specialization courses are available to meet your career goals.
Q. Can the CSE PhD degree be completed entirely remotely?
In most cases no, at least not in its entirety. The PhD requires the close supervision of one or more faculty advisors. This typically precludes completing the PhD degree requirements entirely on a remote basis. Many students are able to spend part of their time in the program away from campus, especially after their dissertation topic is established, and successfully complete the degree.
Q. I am a online student but I may be able to come to campus for some semesters of full-time study. Can I do this?