Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Who makes PhD decisions? What are the important criteria?

A. PhD admission decisions are made directly by the faculty of the department. Each admission is evaluated individually. The most important factors are previous academic background (GPA and courses taken), letters of reference, previous research experience, relevant professional experience, GRE scores, and statement of purpose. In addition, the candidate's area of interest and area of previous research or work experience may also play an important role, and applicants whose background matches current research activities in the department will have a better chance. On the other hand, if you plan to pursue research in an area that is not represented at all in our department, then your chances will be lower and we would recommend applying to another school instead.

Q. Are GRE scores required?

A. Scores for the GRE General Score are required from all applicants. We do not require scores for the CS subject test, but you may submit them as part of your application.

Q. I have a GRE score of XXX. Will I be admitted? What is the minimum GRE score for admission?

A. We consider your entire application to make decisions on admission and support. A high GRE score alone does not guarantee admission. There are also no specified minimum scores for the GRE, but be aware that admission is highly competitive so high scores are expected unless there is some other significant strength in the application that can make up for it.

Q. Is a master’s degree required for admission to the PhD program?

A. No, a Masters degree is not required, and people with undergraduate or graduate degrees can apply.

Q. My previous degrees were in a subject other than computer science. Can I still apply?

A. Yes, though we expect you to have significant background in CS or closely related fields. Admission is unlikely if we conclude that significant course work would be needed to make up for missing background in CS. For closely related fields such as Computer Engineering or EE this may often not be a big problem, but if your undergraduate background is in a very different field, then first getting an MS degree in CS may be a better idea.

Q. I already have a master’s degree or graduate work in computer science. How does this change things? Can I transfer credits into the program?

A. You may be able to transfer some credits into our PhD program. Students with a completed Masters degree in CS may transfer 30 credits, while some relevant credits may be transferable for those with graduate degrees or credits in EE and other closely related fields, as decided on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of the department. Decisions about such transfers will usually be made after you arrive at the NYU School of Engineering. Also, if you already have a Masters degree in CS from another institution, then you will not be awarded another MS degree from the NYU School of Engineering. Having already a Masters degree can be advantageous if it shows that a candidate has strong and broad background and/or if it includes some research. On the other hand, we may also expect more from somebody who already has a Masters degree.

Q. I have read that NYU also has engineering faculty and programs in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. Can I also work with faculty in those campuses to earn my PhD?

A. You can apply and indicate in your application that you are interested in working with faculty at the Abu Dhabi campus, by checking the appropriate box. Checking this box will mean that you will be considered for both our Brooklyn and Abu Dhabi campuses, unless you indicate in your statement of purpose that you are only interested in working in Abu Dhabi. In addition, you may also want to contact the faculty in Abu Dhabi directly for more information. For Shanghai, precise rules are still being finalized, but we suggest you contact faculty there, while also clearly stating in your statement of purpose your interest in working in Shanghai. Since the number of faculty in those campuses is still very limited, it is important to identify specific faculty members there that you are interested in working with.

Note that if you get admitted to work with faculty in those campuses, you will be expected to spend a limited amount of time in New York to do necessary coursework, and will then do most of your dissertation research in Abu Dhabi or Shanghai.

Q. Do I have to apply online, or can I submit a paper application?

A. All applications must be submitted online. A link to the online application is available here.

Q. I have been admitted to or I am currently enrolled in the MS program in computer science at the NYU School of Engineering. Can I transfer into the PhD program?

A. Admission to the PhD program is separate from the MS program, and is significantly more competitive. You need to apply for the PhD program like everybody else. Be aware that to be considered for the PhD program, you should be among the top students in the MS program. Also, most MS students who transfer to the PhD program are involved in research during their MS studies. Talk to a faculty member or the graduate advisor before applying for a transfer into the PhD program.

Q. I am an undergraduate student at the NYU School of Engineering and I plan to pursue a PhD either at the NYU School of Engineering or at another institution. What should I do?

A. The earlier you start planning ahead the better. Ask a faculty member for advice. Consider working on some research with a faculty member. Research experience is usually more important for getting into a good program than a slightly better GRE. Do not start planning in your final year. Also consider schools other than the NYU School of Engineering. While we always like to get good students, a change of institution can sometimes be healthy for your academic career.

Q. Is previous research experience required to be admitted to the PhD program?

A. No, though it is highly desirable if you have some. Make sure to describe such experience in your statement and try to get a letter of reference discussing it. Research experience is particularly important for applicants who already have a Masters degree, while for students who are still undergrads it is less common to have a significant research record. In general, we are looking for applicants who have shown scholarship and initiative beyond the basic degree requirements. Also discuss relevant professional experience in your statement and resume.

Q. Do you admit people for part-time study towards a PhD?

A. Yes, though we believe that it is not always a good idea to pursue a PhD part-time. We understand there are circumstances where full-time study is not possible and try to accommodate part-time students, but otherwise we strongly recommend going full-time, at least for some of the duration of study. In our experience, being part-time greatly increases the time it takes to finish the program and decreases the success rate. Consider carefully how this fits into your professional situation. There are some employers (such as colleges or research labs) that may be very supportive in terms of giving time off or tuition support. Note that part-time students typically do not receive financial support such as scholarships or assistantships from the department. Contact the advisor and discuss such plans with our faculty.

Q. Do all full-time PhD students receive financial support?

A. Basically, yes, but let's be more precise. For applicants that indicate that they require financial support to attend, or that do not show sufficient financial resources in their application, we will typically only offer admission if we can offer sufficient financial support (though there may be exceptions). For applicants that have other support, we may sometimes admit people without offering support (see also next item).

Q. If I indicate that I might have some funding to support my studies, will this decrease my chances of being offered support from the NYU School of Engineering?

A. The answer may depend on the type of funding you already have. If you have an outside scholarship (say, a US or foreign government or private scholarship) or a commitment by a company to support you over several years, then we will expect you to use this funding if admitted. If you show personal and family funds as your source of support, then we would assume that you would still prefer getting support from us, and that you would not be happy to entirely support yourself from those funds over the several years of your PhD study. In that case, chances are that you would be considered the same as applicants requiring support. In some case, when we do not have enough funding to support all strong applicants, we may offer admission without support in the first year, with the expectation that the department will make an effort to find support in the second year if the student maintains a strong record in the first year.

Q. I am currently applying for the program. Should I contact faculty members to ask for admission or financial support?

A. Please do not email multiple faculty members to ask about admission and possibilities for support. You may contact an individual faculty member if your research interests and background are directly related to his/her work. But please do not broadcast requests to all faculty. To inquire on the status of your application, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies.

Q. The deadline for applications for admission with support has already passed. Can I still apply?

A. Yes, you can still apply a little later. We STRONGLY recommend applying by the deadline though. If you apply later, your chances of obtaining support will be diminished, and very late applications will likely not receive any consideration for support. For admission without support, you may apply until April 30, but earlier is better. Be aware that for international students, some time is needed for the visa process, so very late applications might run into problems even if no support is requested.

Q. Do you admit new PhD students in the spring semester?

A. Usually not, except in cases such as internal transfers into the program or when a faculty member recommends a particular student for admission and agrees to provide support. Other applications are usually only evaluated once a year in the spring for the next fall semester.

Q. Will I be offered housing on campus if I am accepted for the PhD program (with or without scholarship)?

A. The NYU School of Engineering has a very limited availability for on-campus housing. PhD students usually prefer to rent and share apartments off-campus.

Q. Whom should I ask for letters of recommendation? How many letters are needed?

A. We require at least 2 letters, but strongly recommend asking for 3-4 letters. Some of the letters may be from job supervisors and employers, but we strongly recommend that at least 2 should be from faculty at your undergraduate (and graduate if applicable) places of study. If you have been out of school for several years, nonetheless make an effort to contact those faculty members and ask for a letter. Do not apply with multiple letters from various employers. Letters should address previous research experience that you might have had during your studies.

Q. When should I expect a decision about my application? How much time will I have to make my decision? Will my decision be binding or can I later decide to attend another school?

A. For applications for financial support that meet the December 15 deadline, decisions are typically made between Feb and early April. For other applications that arrive later, decisions should be made within two months after we receive the application, in some cases much faster. For admissions with financial support, we follow the guidelines of the Council of Graduate Schools. This means that we try to make offers before April 15, and we will not require a binding decision before April 15. Any decision to accept our offer of admission with support will be considered binding. Occasionally we may decide to make offers of support after April 15, due to additional funding becoming available. In that case, you will get a limited amount of time (1-2 weeks) to make a binding decision.

Q. May I contact the department about the status of my application? In what situation, and whom do I contact?

A. You can check the status of the application here. Be advised that the status may be slightly out of date due to the huge amount of applications to be processed by the Graduate Admissions office. If you have urgent need to enquire about the status of your application (such as an approaching deadline to accept an offer from anther university), you may contact the PhD Admissions Chair. Please allow at least a couple of weeks after submitting your application before inquiring about the status of your application.

Q. Whom should I contact if I have additional questions about the PhD program?

A. If you still have questions after reading about the PhD program, curriculum, and the FAQ page, you may contact the PhD Program Director with your queries.

Q. How will the department contact me after I submit the application?

A. If the department needs to contact you, it will be done using the email address you provided in your application. Please continue to monitor the email address you gave us on your application, as all future communications until we make a decision about your application will be directed to that email address.