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Caltech Computer Science Phd Application Essays

Graduate Studies

The CMS department offers a variety of PhD programs. We offer two traditional, disciplinary programs leading to the following degrees:

PhD in Applied + Computational Mathematics »

PhD in Computer Science »

Additionally, our faculty participate in three unique interdisciplinary programs that focus on the emerging interfaces at the boundaries of computer science, electrical engineering, applied math, and biology.

PhD in Computing + Mathematical Sciences »

PhD in Control + Dynamical Systems »

PhD in Computation + Neural Systems »

Note that all CMS faculty can advise students in all of the programs listed above.

Additionally, we offer subject minors for graduate students in other areas wishing to broaden their experience:

Subject Minor in Applied + Computational Mathematics »

Subject Minor in Computational Science + Engineering »

Subject Minor in Computer Science »

Subject Minor in Control and Dynamical Systems »


Applications for graduate studies are reviewed and evaluated for admission (and financial aid) each year starting on December 15th, after all credentials (including recommendation letters and official copies of test scores) have been received. GRE scores are required (applicants should take the GRE in September to allow enough time for Caltech to receive the scores by December), and a subject test of the student's choice is strongly recommended. The Graduate Admission Committee usually decides on admissions by the end of February.

Applications are encouraged from fields other than computer science or applied mathematics; however, applicants should be aware that our program is quite mathematically and scientifically oriented, and students are expected to catch up on their field of studies by the end of the first year. Students who hold a PhD degree from another institution are not normally admitted to graduate standing at Caltech to pursue a second PhD degree.

Fellowships And Financial Support

Each year, we award several graduate fellowships to our doctoral students. Fellowships usually provide full tuition and a substantial living-expense stipend for one academic year (Fall, Winter, and Spring terms). The department also provides financial support for graduate students in the form of research assistantships and/or teaching assistantship. Note that admission and financial aid are considered separately; on rare occasions, some students may be admitted without financial aid. Visit the Financial Support page of the Graduate Admissions website for further information.

Applicants are also encouraged to secure financial support from outside sources, e.g. government fellowships, industry, etc. There are a number of outside fellowships available to U.S. citizens including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowships, the Office of Science Graduate Fellowships, to name a few.

For more general details on graduate studies at Caltech, visit the Caltech's Graduate Office.

CMS Meeting of the Minds

Each year, in the Spring, CMS hosts the Meeting of the Minds, an event that gives both undergraduate and graduate researchers a chance to showcase their work via a poster and/or demo. Many classmates and other members of the CMS community attend this poster session, and vote on their favorite research presentations. The presentations that receive the most votes are awarded with prizes.

More information about the event, along with participation guidelines, can be found at the Meeting of the Minds.

Options Manager

Maria Lopez

CMS Grad Council

Thomas Anderson

Sara Beery

Dimitar Ho

De Huang

Yorie Nakahira

Xiaoqi Ren

Matteo Ronchi

Jialin Song

Application Requirements

Applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree or the equivalent before beginning graduate study. Applicants who already possess a Ph.D. degree will not be considered for a second Ph.D. degree. Transcripts, general GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, a CV or resume, and the applicant's statement of purpose are all required components of the application and are carefully weighed during the evaluation process. The admissions committee may also consider research papers, publications and other original work. 

  • Application Checklist 
  • Application Deadlines
  • Application Instructions
  • Required Tests  Applicants should include self-reported scores and request official score reports from ETS.  The official scores will be used to verify the self-reported scores.  For applicants who have taken more than one test, the most recent scores will be displayed. Note:  We usually accept scores from tests taken within the last five years. However, ETS will only officially report scores from tests taken within the last two years.   For tests taken more than two years ago, applicants must send official copies of score reports as we do not accept self-reported scores as the sole submission for older test dates.
  • Supplemental Documents 
  • Transcripts and Letters of Recommendation