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Frequently Asked Questions for Graduate Applicants


Do I need to submit a pre-application? Do you pre-screen applicants?

No, you do not need to submit a pre-application. We do not pre-screen or pre-evaluate applicants.

Can I start in the spring term?

No, admission to Princeton is for fall only. Application materials are available starting in September of each year for admission in fall of the next year.

Can I attend part-time, evenings, weekends, or summers?

The Ph.D. program is full-time only. Princeton does not offer evening, weekend, or summer courses.

Can I transfer credits from another school to Princeton toward receipt of my Ph.D.?

No. All work for the Ph.D. must be done as a Princeton student. Work done previously at another institution may help you complete our program faster, but you will not be given credit for work done prior to your admission to Princeton.

Do I have to have a master's degree to apply to the Ph.D. program?

No. Most of our applicants come directly from a bachelor's degree program.

If I apply for the Ph.D. program and am not accepted, will you still consider me for the master's program?

No. We will only consider you for the degree track to which you have applied. Princeton allows applicants to apply to only one department and for only one degree at a time.

Does my undergraduate degree have to be in Computer Science?

No. Normally, however, our applicants have a degree in computer science, engineering, science, or mathematics.

What materials are required with my application?

We require transcripts, GRE scores, TOEFL or IELTS (international students only), and three letters of recommendation. In addition, each candidate is asked to write a personal statement of interest as part of the application packet. Please complete all sections of the application. The code for GRE and TOEFL is 2672. No department code is required.

NOTE: It is important that all materials reach us by the application deadline in order for your application to receive full consideration. The only exception is computer-based test scores for tests taken in early December. Late or missing materials will seriously hurt your chance for admission. It is your responsibility to see that we receive all materials on time.

I applied last year and was not accepted. I want to reapply. What do I need to do?

Applicants who applied the previous year may reapply the following year. Application materials are kept for one year, however you must complete a new application. On the first page of the application you will be asked if you have applied before. In addition, you must submit official transcripts of any academic work accomplished since the date of the last application, at least two new letters of recommendation, and a revised personal statement. All materials, including the application fee, are due by the application deadline. The new materials will be added to your file from the previous year.

Where should my application materials be submitted?

All materials should be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions. Please do not send anything directly to the department.

Can the application fee be waived?

The department will not waive the application fee. Please consult the Graduate Application for more information about fee waivers.

Will you still review my application if I do not pay the fee?

No-fee applications will be reviewed separately if there are still slots after all the fee-paid applicants have been considered. For full consideration, it is important to submit the fee.

I haven't finished my degree yet. What transcript should I submit? What about GPA?

Your current transcript should be submitted with your application. If you are admitted to Princeton, you will be required to submit a final transcript and proof of receipt of degree before you can register in the Fall. If your school calculates GPA on other than a 4.0 scale, include a statement of GPA with your application.

What about midyear grades?

Applicants must mail an unofficial report of midyear grades to the Office of Graduate Admission as soon as the grades are available.

What should be in the personal statement?

The statement should not exceed 1,000 words and should describe your academic and career plans as they relate to the department, and specifically to the area(s) of computer science you are interested in studying.

Is the GRE general exam required? When must I take it? What is the minimum score?

Yes, the GRE general exam is required. The paper-based test should be taken by October; the computer-based may be taken in December. We do not publish minimum or average GRE scores. Admission to Princeton is highly competitive, and we expect to see scores of 161 and above on the quantitative section and 4.5/6 on the analytic writing section. GRE scores are valid for five years, and must be valid through December 31 of the fall in which you are applying. GRE scores in the old format (scored 200-800) will still be accepted as long as they are valid.

What is the Institution Code for Princeton? Do I need to use a department code? What if I put a department code - will you still get my scores?

The Institution Code is 2672. We do not require a department code. If you enter one we will still receive your scores.

How can I check if you got my scores?

You should allow several weeks for us to receive scores. The application checklist will be updated when your scores are received.

What if I retake the GREs? What score will you use?

We will use the newest version of the scores submitted.

Is the subject GRE required?

No. We are no longer either requiring or recommending that the subject GRE be taken.

Must I submit TOEFL or IELTS?

All international applicants whose native language is not English and who have not received their undergraduate education in a native English language speaking country must submit scores from either TOEFL or IELTS. Your application will be considered incomplete without these scores. For more information see this page.


We do not require or accept TWE scores in place of these.

What TOEFL should I take?

The internet based test (iBT) replaces the computer based test (CBT) effective October 1, 2006. Effective September 2008 we require iBT TOEFL scores. PBT (paper-based) TOEFL scores may be submitted only if the iBT TOEFL exam is not offered in your country. To reach us on time, iBT should be taken by December 1 and PBT by October 31. All scores must be valid through December 31 of the Fall in which you are applying.

I already took the CBT. Do I have to take the iBT too?

Effective September 2008 (for Fall 2009 admission) we will only accept iBT scores.

What is the minimum score for TOEFL? for IELTS?

The Graduate School has not set a recommended minimum score on the iBT. However, the following information may be useful. Over the last two admission seasons the average iBT TOEFL combined score for admitted students was 108, with the following average sub-scores: Listening 28, Reading 29, Speaking 24, and Writing 27. Furthermore, data from the University's English Language Program indicates that of newly enrolling internationals students, those who score below 20 on the Speaking subsection of iBT TOEFL are virtually certain to have to take an English language course during their first year of graduate study to bring their spoken proficiency up to a minimum standard.

Students choosing to submit IELTS must take the Academic Test version. The university has set as a standard an overall band score of 7.0 on the academic version of IELTS as the minimum.

Is there an English language requirement?

Yes. All non-native English speakers must pass Princeton's Oral Proficiency Test (POPT). The SPEAK test is given at the beginning of the first year. Students who do not pass this must take additional English classes and retake the POPT. Students who do not pass the POPT by the end of year 1 will not be readmitted for a second year of graduate study.

What about financial aid?

All Ph.D. candidates are considered for university financial awards. These awards generally consist of tuition and health fee plus a monthly stipend for the 10 month academic year. We also encourage applicants to apply for any fellowships for which they are eligible, i.e., NSF, NDSEG, or comparable international fellowships. Summer support is determined separately. Financial support for students is reviewed each year.

Master's candidates are not normally offered financial aid, and should be prepared to provide their own funding if admitted. Master's candidates may be offered teaching assistantships if available. Non-native English speakers must pass the University's English screening exam before they can be offered a teaching assistantship.

How will I know if all my application materials haven been received?

Applicants who use the online application will be able to use "track your status" to see what materials have been received. We are unable to track materials for applicants who print out the application and send it in.

When does application review begin?

All applications are first processed by the Office of Graduate Admissions. The department will receive all files together in mid-January.

When will I know your decision?

We make our final decisions in mid-February. Admits will be notified by email from the department by the end of February. All other applicants will be notified by the Graduate School by mid-March.

Who can I contact if I have specific questions?

First contact Nicki Gotsis, our graduate coordinator. She can be reached by email at: gradinfo@cs.princeton.edu.
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