How to get admitted to a PhD program

What appears on these pages represents my personal opinions, which must not be construed as binding on any part of Tufts University

So you'd like to get admitted to a good Phd program—maybe at Tufts, maybe elsewhere. What do you do?

First of all, recognize that there are no guarantees. Not only do you have to meet minimum standards for abilility and research potential, but you must also distinguish yourself among your peer group. Every year, only the very best candidates are admitted, and because the number of places is limited, we are sometimes forced to turn down candidates who could have successfully completed the program.

What are the criteria for admission?

This is what I believe admissions committees are looking for. (Note disclaimer above.) The ideal PhD candidate shows Sometimes we have applicants whose primary backgrounds are not in computer science. It is very difficult to make any general statements about these applications, but such students often begin with a post-bachelor's certificate in Computer Science and are then admitted to a degree program. Students with solid background in theory (at the level of our CS 160 and 170) and programming (at the level of our CS 15 and 40) may be admitted directly to a degree program.

How can I tell whether I should apply?

We often receive inquiries from students who want to know whether to apply to the program. It is very difficult to make predictions about outcomes without seeing an actual application. In particular, we are unlikely to be able to tell very much from seeing just your vita, resume, or transcript. If you are interested in the program, the only real way to estimate your chances of getting in is to apply.

What can I do to improve my chances of getting in?

If you do any or all of the following things, you will make it easy for our admissions committee—or any other—to offer you a place in our program.

What should I say in my statement of purpose

It will help you write your statement of purpose if you know how it will be used.

Another good thing you can do in a statement of purpose is give clear, concise descriptions of work you have done. This is an important skill for a researcher, and you have an opportunity to show that you are already developing this skill. For bonus points, explain the significance of your work.

Back to resources for students or Norman Ramsey's home page.