Admission FAQs Answered

Please read through the FAQs before contacting us.

• What factors does the Department of Computer Science consider in a decision to admit?

The department admissions committee considers many factors in addition to looking for the highest possible GPA. Among the factors: the quality of training in computer science and/or related fields provided by your college or university; the letters of recommendation, especially from faculty known in the field; your publications or presentations at conferences; research experience and the ability to explain your research clearly in writing; a strong TOEFL or IELTS score, excellent grades in key computer science courses; a match of your professed research interests with our faculty's interests; and a host of other factors. GRE scores are optional for your application. In certain cases, a strong GRE score submitted with your application can improve your chances.

• Must I contact a potential advisor before applying?

No, the department admits students based on broad research interests and provides general departmental funding for the first two years. A faculty member may contact you as part of the admissions process, and you may choose to initiate a discussion about your research with a faculty member with similar interests. Superficial contact or requests to be accepted by a particular faculty member will not help your application.

• Do I have the background to be admitted?

We cannot answer this question for you until you actually apply and we see your application in the context of all of the others. 

However, we do suggest you evaluate your own likelihood of being admitted to Duke. Take a look at the statistics regarding the last admission season; you will see that Duke is very competitive, that is, we receive many applications and admit only a small percentage. You can look at the courses under the Education tab to determine whether you have the background to do well; the graduate level courses are 500 and above and many of the courses have a website (you might have to look at a previous semester for the website).

• Will you look at my scores and tell me whether I should apply?

Consideration of an applicant occurs only after official submission of the application. You may look at the statistics for the department regarding scores, the number of applicants in a given year, and the number of admitted students and make an educated decision.

• If I am not accepted for the PhD program, will my application be considered towards a Master's? 

No, the PhD and Master's programs require separate applications. But you can contact to let us know if you want to be considered for an MS if the PhD admission does not seem likely.

• May I apply for a PhD if I don't have a Master's degree already?

Yes. There may be advantages to having already earned a Master's degree because you may have experience in research and with graduate level courses. However, all PhD students enter the program with the same requirements, Master's or not. 

• May I transfer credit units from another institution?

For a Master's candidate, there is a mechanism in place for transferring up to two courses after the completion of 12 hours at Duke. Approval must be made at the level of the department and the Graduate School, and is in no way guaranteed.

For a PhD student, there are exceptional cases in which a course from another school would be accepted toward the PhD course requirements. This decision would be made only in the 2nd year after completion of some coursework at Duke and never as part of the admission. 

• Since I already have one Master's degree, am I eligible to apply for a second one?

Yes, if that's what you want, and as long as the first one is not from Duke.

• Is there funding support or scholarships for a Master's applicant?

No, we do not offer support for Master's. You may apply for external scholarships; see this site for loan information.

• What are the basic requirements for GPA and scores for the department?

The department does not have requirements different from the Graduate School's requirements; however, in practice students admitted to computer science have very strong scores and GPA. Follow the links at the bottom of this page for admissions and enrollment statistics.

• What scores are required? 

Please read the application requirements.

• Do I need a GRE subject score?

ETS discontinued the CS subject test a few years back. A subject test in another discipline will not help you with admission to CS.

• What are the Institution and Department codes for the GRE exams?

The institution code can be found here. There is no department code.

• Do I have to take the TOEFL?

The condition under which the Graduate School will waive the requirement is available here. Write an email to grad-admissions at to request the waiver, which is granted only after admittance.

• If I have more than one GRE or TOEFL score, which one do you accept?

We use the highest score.

• What if I won't have my official scores by the deadline?

Scan and upload your self-reported scores with the application. The official scores will be added to your application later. The Computer Science Department will consider an application with self-reported scores and confirm the scores before admitting.

• If the department admissions website shows a different deadline than that shown by the Graduate School, which deadline must I meet?

The graduate school allows departments to set application deadlines later than the published date. The department deadline is the official deadline.

• Can you assist me in converting my GPA?

Find information here about converting your GPA.

• Where should I send documents that support my application?

Upload all documents that you can into the application online. Once you submit, you must email documents to: grad-admissions-center at Include your name exactly as it is on the application, and the application number. All documents must go to the Graduate School Admissions Office, using that email address. Nothing should be sent directly to the Department of Computer Science.

• If I submitted my application already, may I still add documents to it online?

No, the application itself closes when you submit. Upload everything that you can before you submit. Unless you are submitting on the final day, you may leave your application open until you are sure that you have uploaded everything you want to include. After you submit, follow the instructions in the answer to the previous question.

• How should the letter of recommendation be submitted, on-line or by mail? 

Always use the online option when possible. If there is a reason a recommender cannot submit online, click here for instructions.

Follow the instructions exactly or the recommendation will not be accepted.

• When do I send my official transcripts?

Official transcripts must be sent directly from your university when and if you are admitted to Duke. The Graduate School Admissions Office suggests that you request the official transcripts when you apply if you are an international student, simply in order to speed up the visa process following acceptance. If your university allows only one official transcript, do not send it at the time of application.

Click here for more information about transcripts.

• What is the mail address to which I should send my official transcripts?

See this page for contact and address information.

• I sent my application materials to the university several weeks ago. Have you received them?

You may check the status of your application online, and the university will email you notification of missing documents. If you have already sent the document in question and then receive the email, it is almost always simply because the Graduate School Admissions Office is behind in processing the thousands of documents, and the application email is automatic.

If the documents in question are official GRE or TOEFL scores: the Computer Science Department will consider an application with self-reported scores and confirm the scores before admitting. 

Always send the documents to grad-admissions-center at and include your name as it is on the application, and your application number. 

• When can I hear a decision?

The department admissions committee hopes to finish by early March, although sometimes the process takes longer. The department notifies the Graduate School Admissions Office; the Admissions Office notifies you by email. Individual inquiries about the timing of decisions cannot be answered. 

• Contact us:

For questions about your application or the application process that cannot be answered through the Graduate School Admissions website, write: grad-admissions at

To send documents electronically that could not be uploaded with the application, use: grad-admissions-center at

For questions about the Department of Computer Science graduate program, write: gpc at