School of Computing

Computer Science MS and PhD Frequently Asked Questions


About the required background:  

    • My undergraduate work is not in computer science and I do not have any background in computer science. I understand that I have to take the appropriate prerequisites first before I take the graduate courses but am I eligible to apply for computer science directly? We do not accept students without a significant background in computer science. This includes courses in at least three of these five areas: data structures, computer organization, operating systems, theory of computation (or algorithms), and programming language implementation (e.g., compilers). If one or two courses are missing in an applicant's background, they may be taken in the first semester. 

      At Clemson, these background courses are:
      • CPSC 2120, Algorithms and Data Structures (assumes a strong background in C and C++ programming, such as CPSC 1010 and 1020, or CPSC 1110 and 2100)
      • CPSC 2310, Introduction to Computer Organization
      • CPSC 3220, Introduction to Operating Systems
      • CPSC 3500, Foundations of Computer Science (assumes a background in discrete math, such as CPSC 2070)
      • CPSC 3520, Programming Systems

If you are a domestic applicant and lack most or all of the background, you will need to apply to Clemson as non-degree or as second undergraduate degree and take the courses, and then apply to the MS program once you have grades in at least three of the five courses listed above.

  • I do not have a degree in computer science, but my job is related to computer science. Can I still apply?
    We have generally found that job training is not a substitute for academic training; however you may submit a score from the GRE Advanced Test in Computer Science if you feel that your self-study and employment experience is equivalent to our required background.

Computer Science compared to related fields at Clemson:

    • What is the difference between the courses listed as Computer Science (CPSC) and Human-Centered Computing (HCC) at Clemson?
    • Human-Centered Computing is, as the name implies, more focused on the role of people in a computing environment. It focuses on understanding how to design, build and evaluate computational technologies as they relate to the human condition and how these technologies affect society. A PhD in HCC is offered by Clemson; please see the 
HCC PhD web pages

    • What is the difference between the courses listed as Computer Science (CPSC) and Digital Production Arts (DPA) at Clemson?
    • Digital Production Arts emphasizes visual effects and animation for the entertainment and commercial video, film, and gaming industries. An MFA in DPA is offered by Clemson; please see the 
DPA web pages

    • What is the difference between the courses listed as Computer Science (CPSC) and Computer Engineering (CpE/ECE) at Clemson?
    • In general, we would agree with the differences between CS and CpE as listed 
      . Please see the
Clemson ECE department web pages

About the application process:

    • I have applied to Computer Science at Clemson, and I have submitted my online application. What should I do next? Should I send materials like transcripts to the graduate admissions office or somewhere else?
    • Please send transcripts directly to the Graduate School; please see the 
Grauate School page on transcripts

    • I have completed my application, how long will it take for the review and when can I expect the result of the review?/b>
    • The review process generally takes anywhere from several weeks to a number of months. Email queries of this type will go unanswered. We appreciate your patience.

There are no supplementary materials required for admission. However, if you would like to submit your resume and other documents, please send them to the Graduate School also. The Graduate School will scan your documents and enter them into the application database.

    • I am applying to Computer Science for the upcoming school year. Do I need to submit the Personal Statement in hard copy again with other supporting materials after submitting it online?
    • There's no need for a separate hardcopy of your personal statement. We will see it from the online application. You may want to send a hardcopy of your resume. It is not required, but sometimes it is helpful in close admission decisions to see what kind of projects and activities an applicant has in his or her background.

    • What is the minimum GRE score required as per the NEW Revised GRE scores?
    • There is no minimum since we review the application as a whole. Strengths in certain areas, such as top grades from a top institution, can counterbalance weaknesses in other areas. However, having said that, our desired profile for an entering student would be 150+ on the verbal and 155+ on the quantitative.

    • Does the requirement in analytical writing of GRE have to be met? If I only got a 3.0 in analytical writing, can I still apply?
    • Our desired profile is GRE AW of 3.0+. We will accept someone with a lesser score if there are counterbalancing strengths (e.g., research experience, strength of previous school).

    • (for International Students) Does Clemson accept the IELTS score instead of the IBT?
    • We prefer TOEFL, but we will accept an IELTS score.

    • (for International Students) Is there a minimum TOEFL score?
    • We would like to see a TOEFL score in the range of 90+, but 90 is not a strict minimum; we review each application as a whole, and a strength in one area can counterbalance a weakness in another area.

  • I won’t receive my GRE and TOEFL scores until later. Can I go ahead with the submission of application without providing the scores as of now?
  • Yes, you can submit the application and have the scores sent later. Your application will be held as incomplete until your GRE and TOEFL scores come in.

About PhD admissions:

    • What are the differences between a PhD and an MS?
    • Please see this 
degree comparison page
       at the Princeton Review and this 
comparison page
       at Campus Explorer.

    • Are there any special requirements for Computer Science PhD program? Can you give me some advice for admission?
    • A successful applicant typically has outstanding grades and scores such that he/she could draw the attention of all faculty members, has research experience, and/or has at least one faculty member who will advocate for admission and who will provide or seek RA funding for the student. Based on your statement of purpose, we route your application materials to relevant faculty members for review.

    • Can I apply for admission into the PhD program for computer science directly with a bachelor's degree? If I apply for the PhD program directly but am denied, can I automatically be considered for MS program?
    • You can apply for the PhD directly. However, if you are not a top applicant and/or there is not a faculty member who is willing to advocate for you as a potential PhD advisee, then you will be considered for admission into the MS program instead.

  • How many students are supposed to be recruited in the Computer Science PhD program this year? What are the funding conditions for your school? On average, how many graduate students get financial support? Is the financial support available to MS program graduate students?
  • The number of PhD students we recruit each year varies depending upon the applicant pool and the available budget, since our goal is to admit PhD students only when we have RA or TA support for them. In Fall 2011 we had 55 CS and HCC PhD students, almost all of whom are full-time and on support. In Fall 2011 we had 115 MS students, relatively few of whom have RA or TA support.

From accepted and current students:

    • (for International students) I have been admitted to Clemson and confirmed my acceptance. Who do I need to speak to about my I-20 so that I can proceed with my VISA Interview and other necessary arrangements?
    • Please work with Clemson's Office of International Affairs (OIA) regarding the I-20; please see OIA's web page for 
new students

    • I would like a Teaching Assistantship (TA). How do I apply?
    • There is no formal application process. Each admitted student is considered for TA funding, with priority given to PhD students as mentioned in the section above. An international student normally needs 25+ in TOEFL spoken English to be placed in front of a classroom on his or her own; lower scores means that the student must be hired on a probationary status, teamed with another TA with the required score, and/or assigned only grading duties.

    • I would like a Research Assistantship (RA). How do I apply?
    • Again, there is no formal application process. In general, RA funding is provided by external grants and contracts awarded to individual faculty members, and RAs are hired solely at the discretion of those faculty members. Most faculty will want to have you in class or a research seminar to assess your abilities and interests before they will make you an RA offer.

    • I would like to obtain a part-time job or an assistantship in some other department on campus. How do I apply?
    • There is no single listing of available part-time jobs nor a single place to apply for such jobs. You can speak with current students about likely possibilities. However, in the past some departments have been inconvenienced by a steady stream of CS students seeking jobs. If a department indicates that they have no part-time jobs (e.g., via a sign on the department office door), please do not approach them. Also, please do not visit faculty in other departments without first obtaining appointments, and please limit the amount of emails sent to faculty in other departments.

The Graduate School has encouraged departments to list available assistantships in a central list. These listings provide elibibility requirements (e.g., targeted majors) and contact information for applying.

    • The course I want is full. How can I get a seat?
    • There is a fair amount of drop/adds the first week of classes as students learn more about the courses and try to make a final selection for the semester. I encourage you to attend the first few classes of whatever courses you want, to let the instructor know of your interest in the course, and to keep checking if a seat has opened up on SISweb. You may add your name to the course request log on SISweb; however, please understand that the request log does no automatically add you to the course once a seat opens up - you must add yourself. (The request log is used for information by the school and instructor.)

  • For the 6 hours of approved courses from outside the School of Computing, is there a list of approved courses?
  • There is no approved list, but most MTHSC and ECE course are acceptable, and many IE courses are acceptable. Check with the Director of Graduate Affairs prior to enrolling. You can take a course outside the School of Computing at either the 600-level or 800-level. If it is at the 600-level, then that course will count against both the outside-the-school limit of two and the 600-level limit of two.