Yale Computer Science PhD Program Admissions FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Admissions to the Computer Science Department

What is the deadline for applying?

Graduate students are admitted starting in the fall term. The deadline for admission in the fall term, 2024, is January 2, 2024 for master’s student applicants. The deadline for applicants to the doctoral program is December 15, 2023.

There is no way to apply during a spring term, although once admitted a student may delay admission for a year or possibly less, with final permission from the Dean of the Graduate School. Admitted students must send a request to the Computer Science Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) for approval first.

Can I get the application fee waived?

In many cases, yes. Membership in a variety of professional organizations qualify you for a fee wavier. For example:

  • National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)
  • Society of Women Engineers (SWE)
  • Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)
  • The complete list is here

Past attendance at many conferences also qualify you. For example:

  • Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC)
  • AfroTech
  • Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference (Tapia)
  • The complete list is here

Finally, if you have ever received a US Federal Pell Grant, you qualify for a waiver. More information, including the waiver request form, is available here.

What is the department’s policy on GRE Scores? 

The GRE score is not accepted for doctoral applicants.

What about grades?

It is good to have high grades, but we actually look at transcripts. If a student has a low grade-point average, we check to see if perhaps he or she did badly early in college, possibly through lack of motivation, then did better as intellectual curiosity grew. Or perhaps someone’s grades are low because he or she focused entirely on computer science and received bad grades in everything else. (Is that good? It’s impossible to answer without looking at the students’ entire record.)

How important are TOEFL scores to foreign students?

Very important, but only because we have nothing better. Your goal before admission should be to learn English, not to pass the TOEFL.

Yale University attaches a great deal of importance to the process by which graduate students learn to become teachers. Every student is required to TA two terms, and may TA more terms if desired. Being an instructor or assisting one requires interactions with undergraduate students. Yale administers its own test to students after they get here to be sure they know English well enough to talk to undergraduates. Failure to pass this test causes administrative problems for faculty and graduate students. The test is waived for students with a 4-year degree from an institution where English is the primary language of instruction; and for students who score 26 or higher on the spoken portion of the iBT test.

I didn’t major in Computer Science as an undergraduate. Can I still get in?

Yes. It helps to have a serious, specific interest in some aspect of the science of computing, over and above experience in programming computers. If you are unacquainted with complexity and decidability, or have only cursory knowledge of data structures, or don’t know the difference between an algorithm and a program, then you should consider taking (and doing well in!) undergraduate courses that address these matters before you apply to a graduate program.

Can you tell me in advance what my chances are of being admitted?

No. Many students ask us to do this, and if we acceded to all such requests, we would in essence be rehearsing the admissions process on the group that asked for advance notice. Not only would this be a lot of work, but the results wouldn’t mean anything, since the outcome when we see all the candidates would likely be different.

What financial support is available for me?

The Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is committed to supporting Ph.D. students for five years, including summers, by combinations of grants, university fellowships, and teaching Assistantships.

Do a student’s research interests affect his or her chance of being admitted?

Yes, a little. We expect every student to be open to many facets of Computer Science when they arrive, and encourage them to feel free to change their area of concentration after they get here. Our main criterion for admission is the applicant’s intelligence, curiosity, and ability to explore without detailed supervision. That said, if a faculty member in a research area is looking for students, the admissions committee tries to accommodate him or her by focusing a bit more than usual on applicants in that area. Of course, the applicants don’t know which areas fall in that category, so they shouldn’t worry about it.

Individual faculty members get many inquiries asking if they will be accepting new students during the next admissions season. As you should be able to infer from the previous paragraph, these inquiries are misguided; students are admitted to the department, not to the research group of a particular faculty member.

Do applicants apply directly to the Ph.D. program, or are they expected to apply to the MS program, and from there be admitted to the Ph.D. program?

Apply directly to the Ph.D. program. The two programs are completely separate, and it is unusual for a Master’s student to go on to the Ph.D. program. If they choose to do so, they must reapply to the Graduate School.

Can I be a part-time student?

Ph.D. students must be full-time students.

Where can I find out how to apply?

Remember that you must apply to the Graduate School of Arts & Science. You do not apply directly to the Department of Computer Science nor do you send any forms to this department. Information on applying for admission to the Yale University Graduate School can be found by going to the web page


Information regarding how and when to apply is available at that web site.

What if I have a question that is not on this list?

If your question is about the Yale admissions process, check the Graduate School FAQ.