These questions are based on real questions from real people. Please
let us know if they're helpful, or if you have other questions.
Answers to many more detailed questions about
the Computer Science Department
(CS) can be found by looking at our web pages.
Office of Graduate Admissions
has a web site that can help you with graduate
admissions information, and also with general questions that you might
have. And of course there are also plenty of web pages about WPI to browse through.
What degrees do you offer?
- The Masters (M.S.) and Doctorate (Ph.D.) degrees in Computer
Science, as well as Certificate Programs.
How many students are there in the department?
The department is of medium size, but it's growing.
How many professors does the department have, and what are their areas of
- There are about
thirty-three faculty in the department, and a
summary of their research areas is available.
We continue to increase the size and diversity of our faculty.
Do I have to do a Thesis?
- There is a course work option for the M.S. degree, in
addition to the thesis option. The Ph.D., of course, requires a
What are the formal steps needed to obtain an M.S. or a Ph.D.?
The details of formal steps needed (e.g., courses, examinations,
proposal, thesis/dissertation) are described in the Graduate Regulations and in WPI's
Where can I find information about applying to WPI for a Graduate degree?
The Office of
Graduate Admissions handles applications for graduate degrees.
They also have a list of answers to
Common Questions About Applying To Graduate School At WPI.
Do I have to take the GREs?
Yes. The GRE General Test is required, unless you have a
degree from WPI, or are a current WPI undergraduate.
The Computer Science Department may decide to waive the GRE
requirement if you have already taken at least two WPI graduate CS
courses and have received an A or a B grade for those courses.
The WPI CS Department used to recommend the GRE CS Subject
Test for all M.S. and Ph.D. applicants. However, the last
offering of the GRE Computer Science Test was in April 2013. It
was an excellent method to demonstrate sufficient CS
background. If your record does not clearly show previous
formal CS education then please describe any relevant
additional education or experience.
Note that some Fellowships require a GRE General Test score.
Consequently, if you are interested in applying for Fellowship funding
we encourage you to determine what it is needed, otherwise you may
automatically disqualify yourself.
Do I have to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)?
What is the lowest acceptable score for the TOEFL?
TOEFL scores must be submitted by all applicants for whom English is
not their first language.
TOEFL/IELTS Notes and Exceptions for details, and
information about required TOEFL scores.
What do I need to send before my application will be considered?
In order to proceed with the
online application process WPI will require all of
the required items before your application
will be considered.
All information is taken into account for admission. It is not
possible to assess an applicant without a complete online application.
What are the Deadlines for Application and Financial Aid?
You can apply online at any time; we admit students year-round. Applications
for admission to the Spring semester should be submitted by October
1st to guarantee consideration, and applications for the Fall semester
should be submitted by January 1st if you are seeking TA or RA funding
Do I have to pay the application fee?
Yes. However, it is not required if you are a current WPI
undergraduate or already have a degree from WPI.
What is the lowest acceptable score for the GREs?
Apart from the TOEFL score, there are no other minimum scores for
either admission or financial aid.
Can I send a copy instead of an original of the scores?
You must send, or arrange to have sent, originals of all official documents.
What is the expected background of applicants?
We expect a B.S. or M.S. degree in Computer Science or a closely
related field. However, we currently have M.S. students with all
kinds of backgrounds. If you have a weaker CS background you will be
expected to study more introductory material, perhaps by taking
undergraduate courses, although you may not be able to count those
course credits towards your graduate degree.
Can you review my qualifications before I send in my application?
We receive so many applications from qualified applicants that we do
not have the time to review qualifications by e-mail. We need the
completed online application before we can consider you.
If I get accepted and I applied for funding, when can I expect to be
notified of funding?
There is no fixed date but applications completed by February 1st
generally receive notification in March about admission and funding.
When do I have to tell WPI whether or not I am going to accept its offer?
You have to tell WPI by April 15th.
What types of funding are typically available?
The Office of Graduate Studies provides general information
about Assistantships and Fellowships.
The department gives financial assistance to selected applicants in
the form of teaching and research assistantships to either current or
newly admitted students. Assistantships cover tuition and a monthly
stipend sufficient for living expenses. Teaching assistantships (TAs) are
selected from among qualified students by the department. Research
assistantships (RAs) are chosen by the principal investigator of the
research. WPI also has a very limited number of Fellowships available.
All admitted full-time students will be considered for
support. We do not have any targets for the number of supported
students from any country, and we support students from all over the
world. The department does not have tuition waivers or any other
means for partial support for students.
How difficult is it to get funding?
It is not possible to answer this question, as the funding available,
the number of applicants, and the supported students who graduate,
vary every year.
What are the selection criteria for funding?
The primary factors in considering students for admission and for
financial aid are: your academic record (i.e., degree and grades),
GRE scores, TOEFL scores (for foreign students),
recommendations and the applicant's statement of purpose.
Students who come to WPI without support will be considered for
support when they're here, based mainly on their success at WPI.
Who has research funds?
Faculty who need an RA will select from current students and admitted
students. Often they make a public announcement of an RA position to the
department's graduate students via email. Unless you have an explicit
record of work or research in the subject area of a grant, it
is extremely unlikely that unsolicited email sent to a faculty
member will win you an assistantship!
Can I attend without support?
Each year we have more well-qualified, newly admitted, students than
we can support with assistantships. Some of these students enroll
without support and pay all expenses themselves. Each year we award
assistantships to a few current, but unsupported, students who have come to
WPI and are doing well.
What about jobs?
Many graduate students have lucrative and beneficial summer jobs at
startups or well-established companies. International students need
to check the requirements of their entry visa before taking any
off-campus employment. Some part-time jobs are available on
How large are the classes?
What subjects are available?
Graduate classes vary in size from about about 7 students to about 40
students. This depends on how advanced the class is, whether the
course is required or not, and the semester. The Graduate Catalog
all the descriptions of graduate CS courses.
What exactly does a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Research Assistant (RA) do?
The CS department has
Guidelines for Teaching and Research Assistants which describe the
duties of TAs and RAs. It is expected that assistants will work an
average of 20 hours per week.
Teaching Assistants typically do a mix of tasks such as:
grade (mark) student homework, programs, or exams; have
office hours where they are available to answer questions from
students who need extra help; organize in-lab problem-solving sessions.
At WPI, TAs do not teach courses.
Research Assistants help faculty members with their research. Usually
RAs are also doing their Thesis work in the same area. RA duties may
involve: programming; finding, collecting and analyzing technical
publications; writing papers about the funded research project.
How are TAs assigned to classes?
TAs are asked to provide a list of courses that they would prefer to
assist with. Professors are asked to provide a list of TAs that they
would prefer to have as assistants. The CS department's TA coordinator
makes the assignment of TAs to courses based on both those
What should I do once I arrive at WPI?
You should certainly follow any instructions sent to you by WPI. You
should also follow the steps described in Information for
New CS Graduate Students. If you are an international student you
should probably visit the
International House. You should also note when the orientation
sessions are for CS graduate students, and for TAs.
Will I get an office, and will I be sharing it?
All funded students are assigned to an office, and all offices are
shared. Often we try to put students who are doing similar research
together. This is especially important for RAs.
Will I get my own computer?
If you receive funding, yes. All TA and RA offices are equipped with
a computer, X-terminal or workstation for each student in the office.
What kind of facilities does the department provide?
The department and WPI have many resources that are available for your
use (e.g., computers, printers, rooms, labs, library, mailboxes,
lounge, etc). To find out more, start by looking at the Frequently Asked Questions About
the Department web page. An orientation meeting for new CS graduate
students, held just prior to the start of the Fall Semester, will also
provide you with information.
Will I get an Academic Advisor?
An initial academic advisor will be assigned to you
when you first come to the Computer Science department.
Your advisor will
help you by answering your questions and providing advice about what
courses to select. Later, when you start doing research it is
possible to change your advisor to one who shares your research
interests. If you are doing a thesis, once you get a thesis advisor,
that professor also becomes your academic advisor.
What are the Research Groups?
The Research Groups are
a way for people with similar interests to meet regularly to discuss
current research topics and results.
We suggest that when you first come to WPI you attend at least one
group in order to meet people and to find out what research is going on.
If I attend a Research Group am I making a commitment to do research
in that area?
Unless you are supported as an RA you have no
to a particular research area.
Is there an organization for graduate students?
The CS department has the Computer Science Graduate Students
Organization. It helps new graduate students in the department,
and handles suggestions and complaints to the department. The
WPI Graduate Student Government
represents all graduate students at WPI.
Will my assistantship salary be enough to cover my living expenses in Massachusetts?
Assistantships cover tuition and a monthly stipend sufficient for
living expenses. You will have enough money to be able to rent a
place to live, buy food, and take care of all normal living expenses.
Can I get help with finding housing before I come here?
- Most people find housing by themselves, perhaps with assistance
from the WPI Residential Services
Apartment Finder System.
Worcester's newspaper also has
online advertisments for apartments/flats.
You may be able to get some additional assistance and suggestions from
the Graduate Student Government, the CS Graduate Students
Organization, the International Student Council, the Chinese Students
& Scholars Association,
information for international students.
Can you provide any additional information for International Students?
In addition to the web pages of the organizations mentioned
above, look at
and in particular
Study in the U.S.: A Guide for International Students.