Frequently Asked Questions About Our Master's Program

We begin accepting applications for Fall, 2025 entry on September 1, and the deadline is January 15. Please note that Spring entry is only available for Brown undergraduates who are doing a fifth-year Master's degree. 

1: How much does a Master's degree cost?

Please see here. Most students take two courses per semester, but this page assumes four. Please adjust accordingly: the actual tuition cost is the per-semester figure given, divided by four, and multiplied by the number of courses taken. We also offer a small number of merit-based, full-tuition scholarships to support Brown CS diversity and inclusion goals. If you're admitted, you'll be given an opportunity to apply for them.

2: What are the admission criteria for the Master's program?

We consider numerous criteria, including academic performance, letters of recommendation, and industrial experience. We also consider GRE scores, TOEFL scores (if relevant), motivation, work experience, awards, honors, prizes, and other accomplishments. Because Master's applicants are so diverse, no single set of criteria adequately covers all the cases. In more detail, we're looking for:

  • Academic performance: The GPA isn't the only criterion. Grades in computer science and related disciplines (for example, math) count more than grades in other areas. Current undergraduates should send us your Fall semester grades. Also, we take into account the fact that at some very competitive schools it's very difficult to achieve a high GPA.
  • Letters of recommendation: Letters must give a detailed, factual, and candid evaluation of your capabilities. Rankings and comparisons with other students are very useful. Ask your recommenders to follow these guidelines. Remind your recommenders of deadlines to ensure they meet them. We routinely find ourselves unable to admit potentially qualified students because their letters of recommendation haven't arrived in time.
  • Work experience: Please describe any work experience you might have. Obviously, not all applicants have work experience, but for those who do, some description of it helps us better evaluate your application.
  • General GRE scores: We don't require these, and we don't recommend that you take the GRE just for admission to our program. However, these scores provide an additional objective form of evaluation that's often helpful in determining your basic skills and comparing them to applicants from diverse backgrounds. We're aware that test performance can improve considerably with practice, some people don't perform well on tests, and that the verbal GRE is harder for some foreign applicants.
  • TOEFL/IELTS: The TOEFL/IELTS exam is required for applicants to the Computer Science (ScM) program unless you meet one of the exemption criteria (see below):
    Your first language is English
    You have received a degree (or will obtain a degree) from an institution where English is the sole language of instruction
    You have received a degree (or will obtain a degree) from an institution in the following countries: Australia, Bahamas, Botswana, Cameroon, Canada (except Quebec), Ethiopia, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, New Zealand, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Gambia, Uganda, United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales), West Indies, Zambia.
    If you meet one of the exemption criteria, you do not need to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores, but may choose to do so if you wish. If you do not meet one of the exemption criteria, you must submit TOEFL or IELTS exams. We don't consider applicants who have scored below 620 (PBT) or 260 (CBT) or IBT (105), and prefer scores higher than that. The corresponding minimum IELTS score is 8.0. If you need to request a TOEFL/IELTS waiver due to financial hardship, please contact
  • Statement: The statement that accompanies your application helps us learn more about you.
  • Awards, honors, and prizes: Unless they're well known (for example, an NSF fellowship or graduation with honors), please give details about them (how many candidates? how many awards? what were the selection criteria?). This is especially important for foreign applicants. If these awards are really important, we'd expect your recommenders to mention them.
  • Research experience: Research experience isn't required for Master's applicants and many of our applicants don't have any, but you can use experience you've had to demonstrate your ability to handle graduate-level computer science material.   

3: Can I still apply if I don't have all the material ready by the deadline?

Unfortunately not. We need a complete application, including letters of recommendation AND OFFICIAL SCORE REPORTS (including TOEFL and IELTS when needed: see 2 above) before we can make admission decisions. Note that we don't require the GRE, and we don't recommend that you take it just for admission to our program. Therefore, please give your letter writers enough time to write and mail your letters of support.

4: When can I begin study?

Only in September, unless there are truly exceptional circumstances.

5: I can't afford the application fee. Can you waive it?

Application Fee Waiver Guidelines:
1) The Application Fee is automatically waived for:

  • Active duty U.S. Military personnel, as well as U.S. Military veterans. Please be sure to list your status within the application.
  • Domestic or international applicants who are members/alumni of certain programs listed within the application.

2) If you would like to request an Application Fee Waiver based on high-financial need:

Please complete the Application Fee Waiver Form found within the online application. The Application Fee Waiver Form is located under the section entitled Financial Information. You will see a link that says Application Fee Waiver Form. Please note this form is only accessible once you have started an application and selected your program of study.
The Application Fee Waiver Form must be submitted no later than three days before the application deadline. Applicants will be notified by email regarding the outcome of their request and should not submit their application until receiving notification about their waiver. In addition, you will need to upload documentation that substantiates your financial hardship.

6: Do you have financial aid available for Master's students?

We offer a small number of merit-based, full-tuition scholarships that are used to support Brown CS diversity and inclusion goals. If you're admitted, you'll be automatically considered for them. To find out how to apply to external sources for support, you can consult the Graduate School's web page.

Also note that there are very few, if any, funding sources available for international students. While we do assist all Brown CS Master's students in finding paid internships for the summers they're here, international students must "provide certified proof of financial support (including travel to and from America) adequate to meet annual expenses". Please see here for details.

7: Are scans of any of the application materials acceptable?

We encourage scanned copies as part of the initial application; original documents are required if you're admitted and decide to enroll here. Please send all documents to the Graduate School:

Master’s Study Enrollment Team
Brown University
225 Dyer Street | Box T
Providence RI 02912

Sending materials to the Brown Graduate School is fine, but there will be additional delays in processing these materials.

8: Do you admit students only from certain elite universities and reject ones not from there?

We admit only outstanding students to our program. The institution you attended is just one of many indicators we consider. In particular, we recognize that excellent students graduate from all kinds of institutions; it's what they do there and after graduation that makes their applications stand out. Thus we do sometimes reject students from leading American and international institutions and accept students who did not attend such universities.

9: What kind of applicant are you looking for? What kinds of courses should I take before I apply to strengthen my application?

There are exceptions, but typically we look for outstanding students who already have an undergraduate CS degree or the equivalent and are ready to take our Master's-level courses. Please see 2 above, where work experience, research experience, and other factors are discussed in detail. While we sometimes discount weaknesses in some areas if there are strengths in others, we'd like to see most of the following courses:

  • An introductory Programming course
  • An introductory Algorithms and Data Structures course
  • A Computer Systems or a Software Engineering course (preferably both)
  • A course on Discrete Mathematics and basic Probability
  • A Linear Algebra course

In addition, a student should have taken a more advanced course (normally offered to juniors and seniors) in at least one area of CS.

10: I've earned my Bachelor's degree from a three-year degree program. Can I still apply for a Master's degree?

The three-year programs we know about, specifically those in India, are acceptable, and students from those programs can apply. If you're coming from a program with which we are not familiar, we may need information from you before acting on your application.

11: Do I have to take the GRE General exam?

Brown CS doesn't require the General exam for Master's applicants. General test scores give us an additional objective form of evaluation, but on the other hand, some students have extremely strong records, and this strength is evident from their application. For such students, the General test score doesn't provide much additional information. In the end, it's your call.

12: Do I have to take the GRE Subject exam?

No. Brown CS doesn't consider Subject exam results.

13: Where do I send my transcripts, score reports, and other materials?

If you're admitted and prompted to do so, please send supplemental materials to:

Master’s Study Enrollment Team
Brown University
225 Dyer Street | Box T
Providence RI 02912

Sending materials to the Brown Graduate School is fine, but there will be additional delays in processing these materials

14: Should I use the institution code, the department code, or both for the GRE and TOEFL?

The GRE institution code is 3094 and the GRE department code is 0402. For the TOEFL, you should use the school code, which is 3094, and the department code, 78. Note that the answers to these questions and many like them may be found here.

15: Who will be the primary readers of my application?

Your application (in particular, your statement) will be read primarily by Brown CS faculty.

16: Who decides whom to admit?

Officially, admissions are generated by the Graduate School of Brown University. In practice, Brown CS (specifically, a group of faculty members) evaluates your application and makes recommendations to the Graduate School, which typically follows our recommendations.

17: If admitted, will I have a faculty advisor? How will they be chosen?

After admission, you will be assigned a faculty advisor based on your stated interests. If necessary, you can contact the Director of Graduate Studies for the Master's program ( to request a new faculty advisor.

18: As a Master's student, what opportunities will I have to do research? How do I start a research project?

We have a whole page devoted to this subject: please see here

19: What if I have other questions?

Please email us.