• Information for New Graduate Students

    Welcome to Computer Science Department at the University of Virginia. In this section you will find information to help with your transition to graduate school and to Charlottesville. 


    When students arrive they will attend an informative orientation led by the department that will help them become familiar with all of the resources we have to offer here in the Department of Computer Science. This is also a time for new students to meet other students as well as faculty. Typically this orientation is held within a week prior to the first day of the fall semester. More information will be posted closer to orientation time. 

    Mandatory International Student ISO Orientation

    All new international students holding all non-immigrant statuses are required to bring their legal documents and proof of the orientation quiz completion to the ISO upon your arrival in Charlottesville.This is required so that the ISO can determine your legal status and make copies for our records as required by U.S. law. You can find all of the information on this on the International Students & Scholars website.




    ID Numbers

    Each student will receive (3) different ID's at the University. The first is your Computer ID which will also be your email address (followed by @virginia.edu). The second ID will be your University ID. This ID number will appear on your ID card and be the one you will use the most on grounds. The third ID number is your SIS ID which the administration will use for your class registration, grading, transcript, and other official functions. You can find all three IDs in your Student Center in SIS. You can obtain your University ID Card after you register at the ID Card Office, Observatory Hill Dining Hall, during normal business hours.

    Activate UVA Email Account & Systems Access

    You will need to follow the procedures listed here to gain access to your email account and other university systems such as UVA Collab and the Student Information System (SIS).



    All UVA students must have health insurance and must complete the Health Insurance Hard Waiver. Students receiving funding will be provided with health insurance through the University. You will need to sign up for this once you arrive and need to sign up each year in August. If you are not receiving funding you may also sign up, but will have to pay for your premium. All students may add dental insurance that can be purchased separately. This premium is not paid by UVA. Visit the following links for more information and to sign up:


    MTAs, GTAs, and GRAs.

    In our department, we have three types of positions that are filled by graduate students: MTAs, GTAs, and GRAs.

    MTAs are Masters students who are paid by the hour for tasks such as grading assignments, holding office hours to help students, etc. The current MTA hourly rate is $15. MTAs are scheduled approximately 10-20 hours per week. MTA positions offer no other benefits and do not waive or reduce the tuition costs – so tuition would still need to be paid in full by the MTA student.

    GTAs are typically PhD students who are serving as Teaching Assistants, and GRAs are typically PhD students who are serving as Research Assistants. 

    In each academic year, the department expects to fulfill a significant number of MTA positions. Being an MTA can help a student reduce their overall cost of attendance. Being a MTA is a great way to learn a topic more deeply, and our current MTAs say that helping other students learn is a very fulfilling experience. While Masters students are certainly not required to be an MTA, our UVA CS community relies on this expertise, so Masters students are encouraged to apply. 

    All new PhD students are usually considered GRA's (even if your admission letter says that you are receiving a "CS Fellowship"). So, if you are an international student and expect to receive funding, then one of the first things you need to do when you arrive is to get your social security card. You must be in the country for 10 days and then go to the social security office: 1470 Pantops Mountain Pl, Charlottesville, VA 22911. 



    New students who expect to be an MTA, GTA or GRA  must obtain a Social Security Card as soon as possible. If you are a PhD student, then some time after you arrive, you will receive information on your stipend and when you should expect to receive your payments. You will also receive a notification from Workday (the HR system) about completing your I-9 form. Here is more information about the I-9 process and the required documents you will need: https://hr.virginia.edu/compliance/i-9-and-e-verify If you are a Masters student, then you will apply to work and this is an hourly position. Details will be given once you are hired. 

    It may be as late as Oct. 1 before you receive a paycheck so try to bring enough money to last for 6 weeks. If you have questions about your funding you can email cs-office@virginia.edu

    Employment of Non-Citizens

    As soon as possible, you will need to get a social security card by taking their passport to the address below. This will need to be done before you will be allowed to receiving any type of payment. All PhD students will need a social security card.

    Social Security Office
    1470 Pantops Mountain Place
    Charlottesville, VA 22911
    (800) 772-1213
    (434) 295-1144

    U.S. Bank Checking Account

    You need a checking account at a U.S. bank in order to receive your stipend payments. Once you have a bank account, then you will need to set up direct deposit through your SIS account. 

    Direct Deposit directions.


    English Language Exams

    All International Students whose first language is not English are required to take the UVELPE test. Note that you cannot fail the UVELPE; based on the results, some students are recommended for writing or spoken English classes, designed to ensure a successful research and teaching career at the University of Virginia.

    If you are going to be a MTA or a GTA in the Fall, you MUST take the SPEAK test. (UVELPE and SPEAK are two separate tests). All of the information on these tests can be found on the Center for American English Language & Culture website.


  • Masters Degree Requirements

    **CURRENTLY BEING UPDATED** All Master’s Degrees offered by the CS department require 31 credits covering a number of technical areas. Many students choose to complete an MS or MCS degree while working on a PhD, and some courses and activities can fulfill requirements in both. Although most students finish within two years, the time limit for degree completion after entering the Master’s program is five years for the MS and seven years for the MCS. Degree requirements set by the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) are given in the SEAS Graduate Record and are additional to the CS Graduate Program requirements.

    Formally, the CS department offers two Master’s degrees: a Master of Science (MS) degree, which requires a thesis, and a Master of Computer Science (MCS) degree, which focuses on coursework or a project. There is no other difference between those degrees.

    In addition, there are special rules for students in a Master’s-only program or students who are terminating their graduate studies with a Master’s degree.

    All graduate degrees offered by the department require a combination of research and coursework. Each student is required to meet both the SEAS-defined minimum number of credits for a graduate degree and the department-defined breadth of instruction. These accountings are performed independently; for example, CS 6161 counts as a course towards the minimum to earn a degree and also satisfies the department’s theory breadth requirement.

    Students must have a minimum number of graded, graduate-level credits. A graduate- level class is any class numbered 5000 or above. No grade lower than a “C” will be accepted towards satisfying this requirement, and the average of all grades in courses uses to satisfy CS graduate degree requirements must be at least a “B”.

    International students must take 12 credits per semester (except for the last semester). International students pursuing a coursework-based Master’s degree thus take as least 12 credits the first semester, 12 credits the second semester, and 6 credits the third and final semester. These credits come from real classes (e.g., graduate electives).

    In addition to graded courses, students are required to take some number of re- search credits for each degree. Students employed as TAs should also register for TA credits (CS 8897 and CS 9897) these do not count toward the requirements of any degree.

    All students must take “Computer Science Perspectives” (CS 6190) during their first Fall semester.

    The minimum number of credits depends on the particular degree sought.

    Masters Degree Requirements

    This subsection describes the official requirements for a Master’s Degree.


    The Master’s Degree requires a minimum of 31 graduate-level credits, including:

    • 1 credit of “Computer Science Perspectives” (CS 6190) - can be waived by permission of the graduate program director
    • 3 credits of a graded graduate-level Mathematics Elective
    • Machine Learning” (CS 6316) from Fall 2015 onward is acceptable
    • “Introduction to Machine Learning and Data Mining” (CS 6501) from Spring 2015 or earlier is acceptable
    • other non-CS graduate courses with a significant mathematical component can also satisfy this requirement with the prior written approval of the grad- uate program director


    12 credit hours of graded graduate-level Categorized CS Electives

    • 3 credits from “Computer Systems” category
    • 3 credits from “Software Systems” category
    • 3 credits from “Application Systems” category
    • 3 credits from “Theory” category


    15 credit hours of graded graduate-level Graduate Electives, following one of three options:

    • Project. Exactly 3 credits of CS 7995 must be used. No credits of CS 8999 may be used to satisfy degree requirements (but CS 8999 may be taken for other purposes, see below). A project presentation must be completed (in the same semester as CS 7995 is taken).
    • Thesis. Exactly 6 credits of CS 8999 must be used. No credits of CS 7995 may be used. A thesis presentation must be completed.
    • Coursework. No credits of CS 7995 or 8999 may be used to satisfy degree requirements (but CS 8999 may be taken for other purposes, see below). No presentation is necessary. You may not continue on to the PhD program.
    • Restrictions on Graduate Electives:
    • no 5000-level CS courses at all
    • no more than 6 transfer credits
    • 3 Assessments forms, chosen from:
    • “Engineering Analysis” assessment form, completed with an instructor from one of your Graduate Electives or your CS advisor
    • “Engineering Design” assessment form, completed with an instructor from one of your Graduate Electives or your CS advisor
    • “Oral Communication” assessment form, completed with an instructor from one of your Graduate Electives of your CS advisor
    • “Plan of Study” assessment form, completed with your CS advisor
    • Note that while CS 8999 only satisfies degree requirements for students pursuing the Thesis option, it can be taken by Coursework or Project students to help qualify for full-time status (12 credits per semester). In that case it helps with full-time status but does not count toward Master’s degree requirements.
    • no TA credits (CS 8897 and CS 9897) count toward the degree
    • no more than 3 credits of Independent Study (CS 6993/7993) can be counted toward the degree


    Click here for more information on the Master of Science Degree from the Graduate Record

  • PhD Requirements


    The PhD degree requires 72 graduate-level credits, including:

    • at least 24 credits of graded graduate-level coursework (of which up to 18 can be transfer credit— see below), containing
      • one graded graduate-level mathematics course (may be satisfied by transfer credit)
        • MATH and APMA courses are acceptable
        • “Introduction to Machine Learning and Data Mining” (CS 6501) is acceptable
        • other non-CS graduate courses with a significant mathematical component can also satisfy this requirement with the prior written approval of the graduate program director
      • no 5000-level CS courses
      • at least 6 credits of graded graduate-level coursework in excess of that required for the Master’s degree (if possessing or obtaining a Master’s degree)
        • these credits traditionally cannot be transferred in, you must actually take at least 6 credits of coursework at UVA to get a UVA PhD
    • CS 8897 and CS 9897 (Graduate Teaching Instruction) cannot be used to satisfy this 24-credit requirement (but see below)
    • 48 graduate-level credits, typically satisfied via research hours such as CS 9999, containing
      • at least 12 credits in any combination of CS 8897 and CS 9897 (Graduate Teaching Instruction), corresponding to two semesters as a full-time, 20 hour per week TA (see Chapter 3.2)
    • Completion of the Qualifying Examination (see Chapter 5)
    • Completion of the PhD Proposal (see Chapter 6.3)
    • Completion of the Oral Defense of the written Dissertation (see Chapter 6.4)
    • Finally, complete the “Graduate Student Leave Request” form (see Section 2.5) to leave the program.

    These requirements have significant overlap with the MCS and MS degree requirements; many students choose to earn one of those Master’s degrees as part of their PhD studies.