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Graduate FAQs ยป Prospective Students

This FAQ answers some of the most frequently posed questions by prospective students to the CSE department at UTA. It address questions from both local and foreign students.

All answers provided here are only meant to clarify rules/policies described elsewhere such as the Graduate Guide (Ph.D., MS) or the UTA Graduate Catalog (look for it on Graduate School website). In the event of a conflict between an answer provided here (in this FAQ) and these two sources, the information in the sources takes precedence.

Table of Contents

  1. Who is a prospective student?
  2. Who is who in the Admission process?
  3. How do I apply?
  4. So, I submitted my application to the Graduate School, what next?
  5. I am an International student and my school does not use the GPA system, how does the grad. school compute my GPA? Is it accurate(fair)?
  6. I have been admitted with a Probationary status, does that mean I am not a Graduate student?
  7. How long do I have, to complete the pre-requisite courses that I have been assigned?
  8. What criteria does the CSE graduate admissions committee look for in making admission decisions?
  9. How do I check my application processing status online?
  10. I checked my application status online and I have questions on what some of the terms on the status page mean, who do I contact?
  11. My application status online says my application is with the CSE department, what do I do?
  12. What financial aid is available through CSE? Who administers it?
  13. What about Research Assistantships?
  14. What is the SPEAK test? Do I need to take the TSE/SPEAK test in order to get an assistantship?
  15. How do I know if I am being offered any financial aid?
  16. How can I get help with my arrival on campus?
  17. I notice that classes are getting full, how do I register for classes?
  18. How much does it cost (tuition, etc.) to attend UTA?
  19. I have been assigned some pre-requisites, how (and to who) do I contest?
  20. I heard that textbooks are expensive in the US, so can you me which books I will need so I can buy them in advance?
  21. I have been granted admission to UTA to semester X, how do I defer my admission to the next semester?
  22. Who do I contact if I have questions that are not answered in this FAQ?
  23. Important Links

FAQs

Q1. Who is a prospective student?

Persons belonging to one of the following categories are deemed "prospective":

  • A person who is planning to apply for a future semester.
  • A person who has applied but has not started enrolling in classes yet.
  • A person who has no intention of applying but is interested in finding out how to take classes.

Q2. Who is who in the Admission process?

There are two main administrative bodies in the admission process, the Graduate School and the CSE department. The Graduate School is the primary contact for the applicant. They receive all your application materials, including your scores sent through ETS, verify them and post status changes to your application online. The CSE department is responsible for making the admission decision on individual applications based on material passed to us from the Graduate School.

Q3. How do I apply?

The graduate school has a website that gives you all the details on applying. Here is a link to the site: http://grad.uta.edu/Prospective/IntApps.asp. The deadlines for submitting applications are also posted on the same site. In addition to the regular application material, PhD applicants must submit their statement of purpose and ask their references to submit their letters of recommendation directly to the CSE department at:

Graduate Advisor
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
The University of Texas at Arlingotn
P.O. Box 19015
Arlington, TX 76019

We do not require letters of recommendation or a separate statement of purpose from MS applicants any more (they are optional). Hence, MS applicants must send their complete application package to the graduate school and they will forward the relevant material to the CSE department.

Q4. So, I submitted my application to the Graduate School, what next?

Here is the process in brief:

  1. Your application material is received by the Graduate School. Once they receive your application fee they initiate work on your application. They proceed to verify the validity and completeness of your application. In particular, they:
    • Check your transcripts for authenticity
    • Compute your GPA
  2. Once your application is deemed complete they enter your details into the system (GPA, Schools attended, GRE, TOEFL, etc.). As a result of this step a worksheet is generated for your individual application that summarizes the following information:
    1. The specific degree (Ph.D., MS, MS-SwE, TCS, Special student) program you for are applying. Note:
      • *** A student who has not earned a degree from a university in the US will not be considered for admission under the special student status***
      • All degree options except the special student option have the same admission criteria (see Q8).
    2. The semester for which you are applying
    3. The school(s) you have previously attended and degree(s) you have received
    4. For each school attended, your GPA
    5. Lastly, your financial documents demonstating the avalability of funds necessary to attend school at UTA, must be furnished. Please note that the format in which this documentation must be made available is posted on the graduate admission page at, http://grad.uta.edu/Prospective/IntApps.asp
  3. They send us (the CSE department) the worksheet along with all the other paper documents (transcripts, recommendations, statement of purpose and other additional documents you may have submitted).
  4. We (the graduate advisors) process your file to make sure you meet the requirements of the department and then send them a response (typically we respond within a week to 10 days). The response is indicated on the worksheet as one of the following:
    • Unconditional - You have been admitted to the program of your choosing with no deficiency courses required.
    • Probationary - You have been admitted to the program of your choosing, however you lack one or more courses in your background and have been assigned these as deficiencies.
    • Denied - You did not meet the one or more of the admission criteria and therefore are denied admission.
    When some of your documentation is incomplete, for example your scores are not official or there is no evidence of your completion of a required degree then your status is considered Provisional.
  5. Once the graduate school receives our decision by means of the worksheet, they update your status page online and convey the decision to you by e-mail and paper mail.

Q5. I am an International student and my school does not use the GPA system, how does the grad. school compute my GPA? Is it accurate(fair)?

The grad. school uses a conversion scale that has been compiled from sources that most universities share. In the CSE department advisors' opinion this scale is more than fair, and is actually inflated in way that most certainly favors International students.

Q6. I have been admitted with a Probationary status, does that mean I am not a Graduate student?

No, you are a graduate student with pre-requisites. That is what "probationary" means. This is by no means a bad status as the term may connote in a different context. The CSE program does attract students from other disciplines and in many cases such students may lack the complete background to pursue a MS, hence the pre-requisites. In some cases even students with a CS/CSE background may lack one or more classes owing to the mismatch in their undergraduate curriculum with that expected by the department, resulting in pre-requisites. Students admitted under this status will be allowed to take the deficiencies at UTA and are not required to finish them before joining UTA.

Q7. How long do I have, to complete the pre-requisite courses that I have been assigned?

Students must complete their pre-requisites in their first semester. If there are more than 3 pre-requisites, 3 of them can be taken in the first semester and the rest in the second semester.

Q8. What criteria does the CSE graduate admissions committee look for in making admission decisions?

The CSE graduate admissions committee bases its decision for graduate admission on the following criteria (in no specific order):

  • An overall GPA of 3.0 or higher in undergraduate course work.
  • A GPA of 3.2 or higher on CS/CSE related course work in the last two years of undergraduate degree.
  • Relevance of the student's degree (background) to the CSE curriculum.
  • Rigor of the student's Bachelors degree. A four-year degree is considered more rigorous than a three-year degree.
  • Reputation of the University/College that the student has received his/her previous degrees from.
  • GRE General Test:
    • A sum of verbal and quantitative GRE scores of at least 300 for MS and 310 for Ph.D. applicants.
    • GRE quantitative score - 155 (MS); 160 (PhD)
    • GRE verbal score - 145 (MS); 150 (PhD)
  • TOEFL score: 90 with no area less than 20 (or alternatively, IELTS at least 7.0 in all areas).
  • For Ph.D. students the following are optional. Meeting these criteria will improve both a student's chances of securing admission and receiving financial support.
    • Publication in scholarly conferences/journals.
    • A percentile of 80 or higher on the Computer Science subject GRE.

Q9. How do I check my application processing status online?

The graduate school maintains a website that allows applicants to check on the status of their applications. The site is http://grad.uta.edu/status.asp

Q10. I checked my application status online and I have questions on what some of the terms on the status page mean, who do I contact?

The graduate school. You can reach them by e-mail at graduate.school@uta.edu

Q11. My application status online says my application is with the CSE department, what do I do?

The CSE department makes all attempts to process and return applications to the graduate school within a week to ten days. If your application has taken longer than that there could be one of several reasons. In that case, please contact the grad advisors for clarification.

Q12. What financial aid is available through CSE? Who administers it?

The CSE department has the provides the following forms of financial assistance:

(ALL APPLICANTS ARE AUTOMATICALLY CONSIDERED FOR ASSISTANTSHIP UNLESS YOU EXPLICITLY REQUEST NOT TO BE; THERE IS NO ADVANCE APPLICATION REQUIRED)

  • Graduate Teaching Assistantships - This comprises the crux of the funding provided by the department with Ph.D. students receiving a priority over MS students in consideration towards these positions. Specifics like offer amount and duration are very subjective and vary from semester to semester and therefore are beyond the scope of this FAQ. The selection process is highly competitive with both current and incoming students competing for a limited number of positions. Accordingly only the top applicants will manage to receive these awards.
  • Ph.D. Fellowships - These are scholarships granted ONLY to new incoming Ph.D. students. The scholarship involves a $1000 stipend that is renewed each year for upto four years as long as the student maintains good academic standing. In addition to the stipend the awardee is eligible to pay the in-state tuition rate as opposed to the out-of-state rate.

Q13. What about Research Assistantships?

Research Assistantships are decided by individual faculty based on availability of funds from their proposal grants. Ph.D. applicants are encouraged to contact faculty in their areas of interest to seek research assistantships.

Q14. What is the SPEAK test? Do I need to take the TSE/SPEAK test in order to get an assistantship?

The SPEAK test is a version of TSE that is offered on campus at UTA hence the two are equivalent. The TSE/SPEAK test is NOT required for being considered for an assitantship. As such we do not look for this in making decisions to award financial aid. The TSE/SPEAK test is required for holding an teaching assistantship, therefore you will be required to take the test if awarded a teaching assistantship. You can take the test on arrival at UTA or in your country if the test is administered. Often, students will take this exam prior to coming to UTA to either save money or stand a better chance of receiving an assistantship from other schools where it may be factor in assistantship decisions.

Q15. How do I know if I am being offered any financial aid?

You will be contacted by e-mail by the graduate advisor if you are selected to receive any financial aid. Please refrain from sending mails to the grad advisor inquiring to find out if you have been selected.

The CSE department is aware of the extra time international applicants need, to be able to apply for visas and we make every attempt to send out offers as early as possible. We attempt to attract the best applicants and also give recipients ample time for visa processing.

Q16. How can I get help with my arrival on campus?

The CSE department does not have the facilities or support to receive you or assist in your arrival on c ampus. However, there are several sources on campus that cater to just this. The Office of International Education (http://www.uta.edu/oie/) should be your first contact for assistance.

Also, student organizations on campus do cater to incoming students from their own countries. You can find a list of all student organizations on campus at - http://www.uta.edu/uta/studentorgs/

Q17. I notice that classes are getting full, how do I register for classes?

UTA Graduate School guidelines dictate that ALL International students MUST attend a mandatory orientation before being eligible to register for classes. US residents are not required to attend an orientation however, if you wish you could participate in the virtual orientation online at http://grad.uta.edu/virtualOrientation/. Please do not be fooled by the filling up of classes, several students register for more classes than they intend to take and usually drop classes before the start of the semester. This understandable behavior by current students ends up manifesting as classes being full.

Q18. How much does it cost (tuition, etc.) to attend UTA?

The cost of attending school varies depending on how you plan on living when at UTA. However, tuition rates are usually published in the graduate catalog available on the graduate school's website (http://grad.uta.edu).

Q19. I have been assigned some pre-requisites, how (and to who) do I contest?

If you believe you have been incorrectly assigned pre-requisites then you will have the opportunity to contest them before the start of the semester by meeting the grad advisor. Please note that the following justifications are unacceptable:

  • "I have job experience and I know this stuff" - You will be given a chance to show your competence on the course you seek to challenge.
  • "I have taken a course at "____" institute and I have a certificate to prove it" - Only courses taken at a degree awarding university or US community college are valid.

Also, each semester some of the beginning pre-requisites have clearance exams administered the week before the start of the semester. Please see the graduate secretary for information about timings and sign-up.

Q20. I heard that textbooks are expensive in the US, so can you tell me which books I will need so I can buy them in advance?

Yes, books can be expensive in the US, however it is impossible to know ahead of time what books you will need as that depends on what classes you will take and what books the instructor chooses for the class. The best advice I can give is to contact current students or student organizations at UTA from your country. For example, the Indian students organization has an excellent page on this very topic.

Q21. I have been granted admission to UTA to semester X, how do I defer my admission to the next semester?

Your request to defer your admission to a future semester must be sent the graduate school at graduate.school@uta.edu. Please note that any offer of assistantship you may have received does not automatically get extended to the future semester. You have to contact the sources (in most cases one of the grad advisors) from who you received the offer e-mail/letter to work out the possibility of deferring the offer as well.

Q22. Who do I contact if I have questions that are not answered in this FAQ?

It depends on what program your questions pertain to:

  • Ph.D. related matters: Bahram Khalili. Email - khalili@uta.edu
  • All Masters programs: Leonidas Fegaras. Email - fegaras@uta.edu
  • For all other issues, the Graduate Secretary: Camille Costabile. Email - camille@uta.edu

Important Links: