Here, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions by prospective students. Please read this section carefully before e-mailing us your inquiries. Chances are your most burning questions are addressed below. If anything is unclear or if your questions are not among the frequently asked ones, please contact us at the ticketing system at the bottom of the page.

Do you have a spring intake for the program?

Yes, for both our MSc and PhD by research programs we offer a spring intake. Please note that we do not offer a spring intake for the Professional Master’s Program.

Can I take a graduate degree program on a part time basis?

Currently, we do not offer graduate degrees on a part-time basis.

What type of financial support is offered for the MSc and PhD programs?

Please see here.

How long does it take to receive a PhD or MSc degree?

The typical tenure of a PhD student in our department is 12 to 15 semesters. The expected time to finish the MSc program is 5 to 6 semesters (within two years). 

Students admitted without a MSc degree will have 5 years to complete the PhD program, and students admitted with a MSc degree with have 4 years to complete the PhD program. 

How many courses does a MSc degree require?

MSc students choosing the thesis option complete at least 15 credit-hours of graduate work (typically 5 courses).

My undergraduate degree is not in computing or computer science, should I still apply?

Yes, we encourage students from other disciplines to apply. However, once you are accepted into our program you may be required to take extra courses to strengthen your background in computer science to better prepare you for our graduate program. To learn more about conditional or qualifying admission, please see the Admission Requirements page of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website. 

The admission requirement speaks of needing a degree from "computing science or related field".  How are you defining "related fields"?

We are intentionally vague about "related fields" as we want to have an open mind when evaluating eligible applicants.  We would consider fields such as computer engineering, engineering science, computational mathematics, applied computing, applied mathematics, computer information systems, etc., to be more closely related to computer science than fields such as electrical engineering, civil engineering, or business administration.  However, we still consider all applications on their merit, and when reviewing applications we typically look at the undergraduate and/or graduate courses taken under your qualifying degree(s). That being said, the more overlap there is between the courses you have already taken and the courses offered by Computing Science, the better chance you have of being considered a qualified applicant.  Please use your best judgement based on the above, to determine if your past education demonstrates your ability to be considered a qualified applicant.

Would industry experience help my application package?

Industry experience in software companies is a factor when being considered for admission. For PhD and MSc thesis students however, we do place more emphasis on the applicant's research potential, e.g., publications, participation in research projects, academic awards, etc. There is no single criterion that determines the outcome of the committee's decision; all factors will be considered.

Are GRE scores required?

No, they are not. 

I have not taken the TOEFL/IELTS yet, how should I complete the appropriate fields on the application form?

If you do not meet the language requirements and have not yet taken the test, we recommend testing. It is possible for applicants to be considered for conditional admission, pending submission of passing English language test scores prior to enrolling at SFU.

What is the minimum English Language Proficiency requirement?

Please visit the English Language Requirements page of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website. 

When should I arrange to send an official university transcript? Where should it be sent?

When you apply via our online system, you must upload a digital copy of your unofficial transcript. You must submit an official transcript for each post-secondary institution once you receive an offer of admission. For information on how to send your official transcript, please see the Admission Requirements page of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website. 

Can my employer write me a reference letter?

Yes. The main point is that your references come from a credible source. Although we would prefer at least one academic reference, references from well known companies or any source that sheds light on your technical and personal skills are encouraged.

When should I apply and how long does it take to receive an answer?

Please refer to the admissions page for information on application dates and procedures. The policy of the School is to admit the majority of students for the fall semester (September start date), though there is also a spring (January start date) admission cycle. 

New students are not admitted to the summer semester, but deferrals or early starts in the summer semester are possible when approved by the graduate director. You should expect a decision to be made within two-three months after the application deadline. Typically, we send out decisions on May 1 following the February 1 deadline for fall admissions and on October 1 following the August 1 deadline for spring admissions.

I have ordered my transcripts and they should have arrived at SFU by now. Can you confirm that my transcripts have been received?

Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive, we are unable to confirm receipt of official transcripts to each individual applicant. However, you can check if your transcript was received by logging into the application system and looking at your document checklist. The transcript has a "Received" date listed next to it. If the "Received" date is after the date you uploaded the document, that means it is the date we received the official hard-copy transcript in the office. For example, if you uploaded the transcript sometime in October, but the "received date" shows April 22nd, then you know we received the transcript in the office on April 22nd.

I have requested that my official English test score be sent to SFU a while ago. Why has it not been entered into the application system yet?

It can take a minimum of 3-4 weeks for your results to update on your application portal. If you have waited longer than 4 weeks and still do not see your results updated, please submit a ticket to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) with the following information: 

- Your GA or student number

- The date of which you released your results to SFU

- Your unofficial test results with your name and test information clearly visible

- Your application deadline for your program of application 

For more information, please visit the English Language Requirements page

Please do not email or contact the School of Computing Science for this issue, as we are not the department that receives your scores. It is important to note that some delays may be due to heavy processing times.

How do I check the status of my application?

To check the status of your application, login at https://go.sfu.ca/paprd/gradapplication.html with your User ID and password and select 'View Application Status' from the Application Services page. Through the Application Services page, you can also update your personal information and review the status of documents that are required for evaluation of your application (eg. test scores, transcripts, references, etc.). The information displayed here is updated as items are received. If you completed your application prior to the document deadline, consider your application status to be "under review."

If my application status is incomplete by the documentation deadline, will I still be considered for admission to the program?

Admission to our programs is very competitive. Therefore, incomplete applications are usually not reviewed for admission.

Have more questions? 

If you were unable to find answers to your questions on this page, please contact us through our online ticketing system.