OLD - Prospective Student FAQs

CSE Program General Information

How is the CSE program different from a traditional computer science (CS) degree program? 

The CSE program includes emphases in foundational areas such as high-performance computing, computational data analysis and machine learning, modeling and simulation, and numerical and scientific computing. It is inherently interdisciplinary, integrating topics in computer science, mathematics, science, and engineering and including one or more application domains where computing skills could be used to solve real-world problems. Students are required to take courses outside of computer science to develop broader computational skills and deeper knowledge in application areas, such as biology or finance. 

A computer science program typically includes a broader range of traditional computer science areas and is not intended to be interdisciplinary.  Students may take little to no coursework outside of computer science and may not be interested in application areas. 

What is a home unit in the CSE program?  

Each student chooses to apply to the CSE program through a specific “home unit,” which is a School/Department that will serve as the student’s academic home within the CSE program if the student is admitted. Financial assistance and lab space are typically determined by the rules and practices of each home unit, and the CSE student handbook includes information about any requirements specific to each home unit.  

How should I select a home unit in the CSE program? 

You should choose a home unit that aligns with your background and interests. For Ph.D. and M.S. thesis students, an important consideration is the home unit of the program faculty with whom you have the closest research interests, since your research advisor(s) must be a CSE program faculty member in your home unit. 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 Physics would be expected to have or to develop some expertise in physics. 

Can I change my home unit once I have been admitted to the program? 

Yes, with the approval of the home unit to which you would like to transfer. At the Ph.D. level, 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. Please contact the home unit to which you would like to transfer for further information about the process. 

Application Information 

When do you admit new students? 

For most home units, students are admitted only in the Fall semester. Please contact your desired home unit if you wish to enroll during Spring. 

What is the minimum TOEFL score? 

Georgia Tech’s English proficiency requirements can be found at https://grad.gatech.edu/english-proficiency. Note that some home units may have higher requirements.  

Is the GRE test required? 

The GRE general test is required for CSE M.S. applications, but not for applications at the Ph.D. level. The subject test may be required in some home units. 

Can I be admitted directly to the Ph.D. program after the bachelor’s degree, without a master’s degree? 

Yes.  A master’s degree is not required to enter the Ph.D. program. 

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? 

As a current Georgia Tech student, you would not have to formally reapply through the Georgia Tech Office of Graduate Studies, but you would need to provide application materials to the CSE home unit of your choice seeking to change your degree level to Ph.D. These application materials would be evaluated as if you were a new Ph.D. applicant, but would factor in your recent academic history at Georgia Tech as well as interest from a potential Ph.D. advisor. Students interested in transferring should consult with their home unit coordinator before submitting such a request. 

I am interested in your master’s 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. All aspects of the applicant’s background will be considered, including work or other academic experience. The curriculum does require a certain amount of background in mathematics (e.g., calculus, linear algebra, probability/statistics) and computing (computer programming) to succeed, and you should be prepared to explain your background in these areas if it will not be clear from your academic transcripts. In some cases, students may be required to satisfy deficiencies in their background, e.g., by completing preparatory coursework, as a condition for admission. 

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. Languages like Python, MATLAB, C/C++, Julia, FORTRAN and Java may be used in the CSE discipline, depending on the application. Computer science courses in software design and development, algorithms, and data structures would be useful, as well as some introduction to computer architecture/systems. Students deficient in software development skills may still gain admission, but should expect to take some additional coursework,  such as CSE 6010: Computational Problem Solving. 

What kind of letters of recommendation should I obtain? 

Our preference (especially for Ph.D. applicants) is to see letters that can speak to your academic capabilities and, for Ph.D. students, potential to conduct research. Often, letters from faculty at universities or scientists in research laboratories can speak to these issues in a compelling way.  Nevertheless, a professional reference from your current supervisor in your place of employment, if applicable, may complement academic references, especially if you have been out of school for a while.

I have accepted your offer of admission for this fall semester, but I want to wait one semester/one 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.  Please contact your home unit. Deferrals of more than one year are not allowed; a new application would be required and admission would not be guaranteed. 

Current GT Students: Adding/Changing to the CSE Degree  

I am a graduate student at GT. How do I add the CSE degree as a second degree or change my degree program to CSE? 

You will still need to apply, but as a current student you will use a different process. Contact the home unit to which you wish to apply for further information about the process of adding/changing to the CSE degree for that unit. 

If I am getting two MS degrees, can courses be double counted towards both degrees? 

Georgia Tech policy allows up to six credits to be counted toward two different MS degrees. 

Can courses be transferred if switching from another MS degree program? 

All relevant prior courses can be applied to help fulfill the requirements of the CSE MS program. 

Online/Distance Learning

Can the CSE MS degree be completed remotely? 

At present, no. Many courses are offered in person only through the Atlanta campus.  

Can the CSE Ph.D. degree be completed remotely? 

In most cases no, at least not entirely.  Many courses are offered only in person through the Atlanta campus, and the  research component of the Ph.D. degree requires the close supervision of a faculty advisor.  Thus, completing the program requirements likely would not be possible without spending time on the Atlanta campus.  With approval from their advisors, some students  can spend part of their time in the program away from campus, especially after they have completed early degree requirements and have established their dissertation topic.