Master of Science in Computer Science and Systems Frequently Asked Questions

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Application Procedures

Am I qualified to apply to the program?

Successful candidates will have a background in computing which includes programming, calculus or linear algebra, discrete structures, data structures, machine organization, software development and preferably algorithms. If you are missing more than one or two of these courses, you can consider applying to the University of Washington Tacoma as a post-baccalaureate student through Admissions to complete the courses. You may also choose to take them at another institution. You can begin taking programming classes at a community college but the majority of the prerequisites will be at the 300-level, so you will need to take them at a four-year institution.

Many students with undergraduate degrees in other disciplines have successfully completed our program after completing the prerequisite coursework.  Work experience in computing is not required but might fulfill one of more of the prerequisite requirements.

What does a complete application include?

All candidates should apply online through the University of Washington Graduate School. After completing the graduate application profile, you will submit:

  1. A personal statement documenting your goals for graduate study in computer science
  2. A current resume
  3. GRE scores – Send them electronically to institution code #4854
  4. TOEFL or IELTS scores if your bachelor’s degree was not instructed in English
  5. Two electronic letters of recommendation – the request will be sent by the UW system
  6. An unofficial transcript. Official copies should not be sent until after you receive an offer of admission. *Please do not mail any documents to UW Tacoma, Seattle, or the graduate advisor.

What should I mail to Tacoma?

Nothing!  All of your materials are submitted online through MyGrad.  After you receive your admissions decision, you will send your official transcripts to Seattle.

When should I send in my official transcript?

We do not need your official copy to review your file for admission.

How do I convert my gpa to a 4.0 scale?

You may use the free, online gpa calculator

Is there a minimum score for the GRE?

We do not have a minimum score for the GRE but are seeking applicants who score at the top of the range for the Quantitative section. For the Verbal section, if your scores are in the bottom third, this can be a concern for the Admissions Committee. If your percentile is below 20, you should consider taking the test again.

Is there a minimum score for TOEFL ?

Yes. The Graduate School has both a minimum and a recommended set of scores for applicants to meet the English Proficiency requirement. You may be admitted if your scores fall just below the recommended score, but you would need to take an Academic English course on the UW Seattle campus at an additional cost. If your score is below the minimum, you are not qualified for admission to the UW Graduate School.

My GRE or TOEFL scores are missing. What should I do?

Did you have the scores sent to the UW Graduate School, code #4854?  If so, it may take two weeks for the scores to arrive.  If it has been more than three weeks since your request, please contact and request a score search. In the email, include the exact spelling of your name as it appears on your test records and your birth date.  If the name on your application does not match your name on your test records, your scores may not be coded to your application unless you notify the Graduate School.

All of my materials have arrived but my application is not marked complete.  What should I do?

You can wait a week or two for the department to code your application as complete.  This is done manually and the time required varies depending on the time of year.

I sent in my official transcript over a month ago but it is not showing as received in MyGrad.

Don’t worry.  Your transcript is likely on file at the Graduate School.  Your file will not be updated until you have been admitted by the academic program and your degree has been verified.  About a month prior to the start of the quarter, the Graduate School will notify students who are missing transcripts or degree statements.  We do not recommend sending official transcripts to the Graduate School at the time of the application.

Can I mail in paper copies of my letters of recommendation?

We strongly prefer for you to use our online recommendation form.   If you wish to send paper copies, please send them to the School of Engineering &  Technology in Tacoma.  These letters should not be sent to the UW Seattle campus.

It’s best to check your admissions profile frequently to make sure the required materials have arrived, such as official test scores and letters of recommendation.  If you are missing a recommendation, you may need to send a reminder or request a new recommendation.

I have missed the priority deadline.  Can I still apply?

Before you apply, please email to find out if space is available.

Is there anything else I should know?

You may check the status of your application in your online Admissions Profile. You should make sure all three of your recommendations have arrived. You may need to send a reminder to your recommender or withdraw the name and submit a new request. Also, check to make sure your official test scores have arrived (see the question on the previous page about missing scores).


Admitted Students


I have been notified via email that I have been admitted.  Now what should I do?
Congratulations!  Your offer email will soon be followed by additional information about your next steps, including funding opportunities.  In the meantime, you may request your official transcripts (after your final grades and degree are posted) to be sent to the Graduate School in Seattle, collect your measles immunization records, start a visa application process, and log into your admissions profile to accept the offer.  All offer letters will be sent via email.  Please contact if you would like to have paper copies mailed.

When do I need to decide if I am attending?
Please enter your decision in MyGrad by the deadline listed in your admissions letter.  Your non-refundable Enrollment Confirmation Fee is due by the date provided in your letter.  You will receive your Enrollment Confirmation letter via email within two weeks of being admitted.

I have questions about the I-20 and applying for a visa.  Who should I contact?
Contact our International Student Services Advisors for assistance. They are very helpful.

Important Details

When does Autumn Quarter begin?
Classes begin on the final Wednesday of September every year. For 2019, the first day of courses will be September 25. 

Can I live on campus?
Yes.  The University of Washington Tacoma doesn’t have traditional residence halls but students can choose to live in Court 17.  These apartments are across the street from campus.  The priority deadline to reserve housing for fall is in April.  Here is more information:

Where can I find more information about faculty?
Please visit our faculty directory page at 

How can I get involved in research?
There are many research opportunities for students!  Students collaborate with faculty on independent studies, project and thesis, as well as paid and volunteer projects.  View some of our recent projects at the Center for Data Science.

Can I continue my studies in Seattle with the PhD program?
The Master of Science in Computer Science and Systems at the University of Washington Tacoma is a terminal degree.  The program at UW Seattle is highly competitive and focuses primarily on those who wish to earn their PhD.  Our smaller program offers students the opportunity to complete a thesis and conduct research, working closely with faculty. Some of ourstudents choose to go on to earn their PhD at another institution.  Admission to the UW Seattle and UW Tacoma computer science programs is separate, each with their own unique requirements.  There may be an opportunity to take one course in Seattle as part of your study.

How much is tuition?
If you have lived in Washington State for at least 12 months and are not on an F-1 visa, you will likely qualify for resident tuition rates.   If you will study on an F-1 visa, you are charged non-resident tuition.

Can I change from an H-4 visa to an F-1 to pursue CPT?
Yes, after you have completed several quarters, you may convert to an F-1 visa to pursue CPT.  Our International Student Services office will assist you with questions after you have begun your studies at UW Tacoma.

Is there funding available for graduate study?
Funding at UW Tacoma is limited and you should plan on funding your degree on your own.  We offer a limited number of graduate assistantships, paid research positions and other part-time paid employment on campus.  Many of our students accept paid internships after they have been here several quarters.  Most funding is awarded in late spring and summer for students planning to start in the fall. 

Where can I research funding opportunities?
In addition, the University of Washington’s Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards offers a searchable database of outside scholarship opportunities:

Research Assistantships
There are sometimes a small number of RA positions at our Center for Data Science.  You may apply for a position after you have been admitted.  These positions are dependent upon grant funding, so the number varies from year to year.  Everyone is invited to attend the weekly events with CWDS and participate in the interview process.

Where do your graduates work?
Our students are working for high tech companies across the Puget Sound region, including Microsoft, Boeing, Intel, Amazon, Expedia, T-Mobile and many others, large and small.  Some students are pursuing careers in California, the East Coast, or internationally.