The Department of Computer Science and Engineering reviews applications to its graduate programs twice per year. The deadlines are:

  • For Fall semester admission, February 1.
  • For Spring semester admission, October 1.

Late admission requests for fall 2024 will be considered according to the following schedule:

  • For MS applicants outside of the US, May 15.
  • For MS applicants in the US, July 1.
  • For PhD students outside the US and all PhD students requesting TA support, March 15.
  • For PhD students who are already in the US and do not need TA support, May 1.
  • Certificate applications will be considered at any time.

Application Process

All applications should be submitted online using this site:

Online Application to Graduate School

In addition to the basic application form, applicants should submit the following additional documentation.

  • Transcripts of all prior academic work.
  • Two letters of recommendation, preferably from prior professors.
  • A resume listing relevant work experience, publications, and projects.
  • For international applicants, scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS) or Duolingo English Test.

Admissions decisions can be made based on unofficial copies of test scores and transcripts, but admitted students must submit official copies to complete the admissions process.

Decision Criteria

Each application will be evaluated by a departmental admissions committee, which makes an official recommendation to the Graduate School. The Graduate School makes the final decision and notifies the applicant of the decision. Applications are evaluated based on a variety of factors, including the content and quality of prior work, the content of the reference letters, and standardized test scores. The following guidelines are generally expected, but not necessarily sufficient, for admission.

  • An undergraduate degree from a college or university of recognized standing, with a B average or better for all work completed (i.e., a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale).
  • A strong background in Computer Science or Computer Engineering, including courses in the following subjects. (The USC undergraduate courses corresponding to these requirements appear in brackets.)
    1. Programming, with emphasis on structured programming and on elementary data structures [CSCE 145, CSCE 146]
    2. Discrete Mathematics [MATH 174]
    3. Calculus [MATH 141, MATH 142]
    4. Computer Organization [CSCE 212]
    5. Algorithms and Data Structures [CSCE 350]
    6. Operating Systems [CSCE 311]
  • The general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for students entering our graduate programs.  However, it is recommended that students whose GPA is below 3.4 take the GRE.  For such students applying to the MS programs, successful candidates are expected to have a minimum score of 160 in the GRE Quantitative and 145 in the GRE Verbal.  For such students applying to the Ph.D. programs, successful candidates are expected to have a minimum score of 165 in the GRE Quantitative and 150 in the GRE Verbal. 
  • For international applicants, a TOEFL score of 80 or higher, or an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher, or a Duolingo score of 115 or higher.

Because admission is competitive, not all candidates satisfying these minimal standards can be admitted. The Cyber Security Certificate, Artificial Intelligence Certificate and Accelerated Masters programs have their own admissions requirements.

Graduate FAQ