Fall 2020 MCS Admits FAQ:

Last updated July 28, 2020

Please note that we will continue to update FAQs here.  Please visit this page before sending us an email as your question may be answered more quickly.

Is instruction remote in Fall 2020?

Yes.  MCS courses in the Fall will be taught remotely.  Faculty will provide instruction online and may facilitate engagement through live office hours, discussion boards, zoom meetings, etc.

I am a new incoming F1 student.  How does the recent SEVP guidance affect me?

At this time new students coming from outside the U.S. (incoming for Fall 2020) require at least one course to be in-person.  Please enroll in CS 299P.  NOTE:  Students who remained and have been in the U.S. since the March 9 SEVP guidance are exempt from the one in-person class enrollment requirement and may enroll in all online classes if they wish to remain in the U.S. for fall.

I am an international student, was not able to obtain a visa on time for the Fall quarter, and cannot travel to the US. Can I enroll remotely?


Will Winter (and subsequent quarters) be remote?

Our short answer: We don’t know yet. MCS is not intended to be an online degree program.  Our hope is to resume normal campus activity in the Winter quarter.  However, this will depend on the situation of the pandemic and how it transpires.  Our health and keeping everyone safe are our priority.  We will continue to monitor the pandemic and follow the guidelines and recommendations made by campus, health officials, and governing bodies to determine how to move forward.  If and when we have permission to return to campus, we will move quickly to our in-person format.

I am not accustomed to remote learning.  Will I be successful?

We have not wavered in our commitment to providing an excellent education to all of our students.   Our faculty and Teaching Assistants are very prepared and equipped to teach and engage with you remotely through live office hours and discussions, Zoom meetings, etc. We will try our best to help you succeed in the program.

I am an international student.  Will I be eligible for Summer 2021 Industry Internships through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) if I attend Fall quarter remotely?

F-1 status, full time enrollment for three consecutive quarters, and physical presence in the US by October 16, 2020 are necessary to be eligible for CPT in the summer.  If you meet these criteria, as well as others outlined on the International Student website https://ic.uci.edu/students/currentStudents/employment/curricular-practical-training.php, you may participate in CPT in Summer 2021.

What happens to the Summer 2021 internship if I am not able to enter the US and meet the criteria by October 16, 2020?

We are looking into the option of on-campus work programs in Summer 2021 that do not require a CPT. Since there are many uncertainties, at this point in time we cannot guarantee such an on-campus internship opportunity for everyone.

If you are able to enter the country in early January, you will be eligible for Fall 2021 CPT. You can do an internship and take courses concurrently in Fall.

If you have multiple entry visas, you can do the internship in your home country in Summer 2021 and return to the campus in Fall 2021.

If I cannot arrive to campus until Winter quarter, will I still be eligible for OPT?

Yes.  As long as you have valid F-1 status and are here for Winter 2021, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021, you will be eligible for OPT after you graduate in the Fall 2021.

May I defer my admission?

After a very careful consideration, MCS is not accepting deferrals.  We understand that this may be disappointing to some of you.  Although we cannot legally guarantee your admission, we highly encourage and hope that you will apply to our program next year.  IMPORTANT–If you apply to our program again, please indicate on the Personal History Statement of the application that you have previously applied and were admitted to our program for Fall 2020.

I have decided to reapply to the program.  Do I need to request ETS to send scores to UCI again?

No.   Applicant’s only need to submit their official score one time to our institution code (4859). If you already submitted their official score, it will be automatically copied to your next application.

General Admissions FAQ:

Do you accept students that have degrees outside of Computer Science?

Typical undergraduate preparation for this program will include degrees in computer science, computer engineering or electrical engineering. Applicants from other sciences, engineering or business will be considered if they demonstrate sufficient computer science preparation.

What prerequisite courses or skills are required for the program?

Students should have the following:
1.  A year of programming preferably in Python, C++, or Java; or equivalent or better of professional experience
2. Adequate knowledge of and proficiency in C/C++
3. Familiarity with discrete mathematics topics such as those covered in ICS 6B and ICS 6D
4. Familiarity with linear algebra topics such as those covered in Math 3A or ICS 6N
5. Completion of an introductory statistics course

** Admitted students in the first year of the program should make every effort to take community college classes in the summer to fill holes in their knowledge or to take Coursera or EdX classes. There is an excellent on-line book on Discrete Mathematics offered by Zybooks.

When can I submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

Domestic students are eligible to submit a FAFSA, online, starting October 1st thru March 2nd.

What is the application deadline?

December 15th.

Do you accept admissions on a rolling basis?

No, students are admitted once a year – for the following FALL quarter.

Am I allowed to defer my admission offer?
MCS does not defer admission.  Admission is only valid for the year it is offered.
Is the GRE General Exam required?

Yes, the general GRE exam is required of all applicants. GRE scores are good for five years, after which time the exam must be repeated.
Only the General exam is required; we do not require the subject GRE exam, although it is recommended for applicants without a background in Computer Science or a related area.

What is required for admission to the program?

Please review our admissions requirements on this page for more information

Can I send photocopies of my transcripts, GRE score or TOEFL scores?

Only official transcripts are acceptable.

For GRE and TOEFL, use institutional code 4859 to have your scores sent from the testing agency to UCI.

Is there a thesis or dissertation required?

No thesis or dissertation is required. There is a comp exam.

Am I eligible for the TOEFL waiver?

For information on TOEFL waivers, please see here.

Can I submit more than 3 letter of recommendations?

Three letters of recommendation are required, but you may submit as many letters.

Is there a minimum score for the GRE?

No, there is no minimum score.

Do you accept GMAT in lieu of the GRE?


Program FAQ:

What is the normative time to degree?

This is a five quarter (15 month) academic program.

Am I allowed to go part-time?

At this current time, the program is designed for full-time students; however, we anticipate that it will be available as a part time option for working professionals or students with outside other obligations in the future.  Please check back later for updates.

Can I apply for the Reader (Grader)/TA/RA positions?

Yes, you may apply for these positions.  However, first priority will be given to MS and PhD students.

Is the internship mandatory?

No.  However, since we are a professional program, we strongly support internship experience.  Students with significant prior work or internship experience may forgo the internship, but should consult with our career counselor first.

What is the cost of the program?

The current cost of the program is $51,041 (regardless of residency). Fees subject to change.

Do you offer fellowships for students?

Full fellowships of up to 100% of tuition are available to domestic students based on academic merit. Full fellowships of up to 100% of tuition are also available to domestic students who strengthen our commitment to diversity and under-representation in Computer Science.

Is SHIP (student health insurance plan) included in my fees?

All MCS student are automatically charged for and enrolled in the UC Graduate Student Health Insurance Plan. If you are covered by another health insurance plan that complies with UC’s waiver criteris, you may apply for a waiver.

Student Insurance Advocates: The Student Insurance Advocate Program is a service available at no charge to all UC Irvine Students. When you have questions about your health insurance, whether about the UC Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP) or other health insurance that you may have, we have a resource to provide you with the answers! We’re partnering with Barney & Barney, an insurance firm, to offer this concierge resource.  Access: By phone: (855) 251-9086 or Email: insurance.irvine@barneyandbarney.com

Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM PST

Is health insurance required?

While health insurance is not required for MCS students, students have the option of purchasing health insurance (Wells Fargo) or through UCI SHIP. See site for more information. Students may also purchase other health insurance on their own.

Is this program online?

No, this program is not online.

Are classes offered in the evenings?

Most courses will be offered in the late afternoons or evenings.

Are the faculty in the MCS program the same as the MSCS program?

All of our faculty in MCS are full-time UCI Computer Science faculty.

Can I take courses outside of the MCS program while I am a student?

No, students can only take the designated courses offered through the program. These include any graduate course that ends with a ‘P’. (Ex: Students may enroll in Comp Sci 250P, but students may not enroll in Comp Sci 250)

Is this a STEM approved program?

All ICS programs (unless otherwise noted) benefit from a STEM classification

Can students attend the UCI career fairs?

Yes, MCS students can take advantage of UCI career fairs, and the program has a dedicated technology career counselor, so students in this program will have extra assistance for finding the best employment opportunities and careers.

Can students in the program request Filing Fee status their last quarter?

This is a lock step professional program, where students pay one program fee and graduate in fall quarter. Therefore, filing fee is not offered for professional programs.

What if I cannot secure an internship in Summer? May I still graduate in Fall?

Yes. While we believe that most students will secure a summer internship, if for some unforeseen reason you do not, you are welcome to pursue an internship somewhere else or to stay at UCI and prepare for your job search in Fall (by improving your English language skills or taking self-paced on-line courses or by doing careful research on job opportunities).

Will the dedicated career counselor for the program provide extra help beyond the typical job fairs?

Yes. The Career Development team will offer career-related workshops and will also be available throughout the program for one-on-one coaching sessions.

What about if my undergraduate degree is in Engineering or Business? Will I still be able to find a technology related internship?

Yes.  We will encourage students with Engineering or Business (or science) backgrounds to include domain specific companies in their searches in order to increase their chances of success.  However, we believe that those students will be able to secure positions in pure technology firms once the program is over and that many will do so in Summer.

Does the MCS lead to a PhD Degree?

No, it does not, the MCS is a terminal degree. You could pursue a PhD degree at another university and they would view the program like any MS in CS, but if you intend to apply to the PhD program at UCI, you should apply to the MSCS program, which contains exactly the same coursework as the PhD program.  Note however that successful completion of the MSCS degree does not guarantee admission to the PhD degree program.

Career Development FAQ:

Will large tech companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon participate in upcoming career fairs?

Large tech companies will participate in upcoming career fairs, but not all of them, due to the high volume of student interest they receive and because of their recruitment timelines.  In addition to career fairs, large tech companies may be on campus for other events, so always be on the lookout!

To register for upcoming UCI Career Fairs and to see employers who will be in attendance, please log into Handshake.

Employer events hosted by the School of ICS or by ICS Professional Programs will be in ICS CODE.

When should I start applying to internships? When do companies start recruiting?

Most large tech companies will begin recruiting in Fall, some as early as July, but mostly late August/September.  Smaller to mid-size companies will usually start in Winter beginning as early as December/January.

Once you have identified your target companies, we recommend you visit their career/university pages to find the internship postings, most of them have deadlines that you should not miss.  If you do not see a posting, set up email notifications through their website so you are alerted right away and can apply as soon as the position is posted.

Regardless of when you apply, the most important thing is to make sure you meet the application deadline, if any.  We recommend you submit your application within the first two weeks of the position being posted, and at least one to two weeks prior to the deadline listed.

If I am interested in an internship at a company, should I apply directly on their website? Or should I go through a recruiter? Would it be harmful to apply through with both?

If you see an internship postings on a company’s website, and you are confident with your application materials, we recommend you apply as soon as possible.  Please also pay careful attention on the postings to see whether there is a deadline to apply, and plan to apply at least one to two weeks prior to that deadline.

For larger companies, anyone you talk to will likely direct you to apply on the company website, including the recruiter.  It will not be harmful to do both.  However, another way is to reach out to your current contacts at the company, if you have any, to see if they are able to make a referral before you submit your online application.  This way, some job sites may allow you to include the employee’s name as your referral.  Even better, your contact may send your information to their seniors or managers, which will help you in the entire process and increase your chances for being invited for interviews.

What is the typical timeline for an internship application? I.e., once I submit my online application, when should I expect a phone interview, technical interview, on-site interview, and the offer?

Industry research shows that on average, the entire recruitment process from sourcing a candidate to hiring a candidate takes 26 business days.  While this timeline is mostly accurate, this timeline does vary with different companies, regardless of their size.

Some students received call backs within one week of application submission, some received call backs one or even two months later.  The key is your follow-up; sometimes that makes a significant difference in how fast the process will move forward, if it moves forward at all!

Will networking and connecting with HR/recruiters increase my chances of getting hired?

For internship positions, you will quickly learn that HR/recruiters play the role of a gatekeeper, ensure equal opportunities, and manage a fair and consistent recruiting process for all applicants.  As such, due to the high volume of applicants they receive, an HR/recruiter will most likely redirect you to apply via the company’s website.

For full-time positions, however, a company’s recruiting process can be a bit different wherein an HR/recruiter may be more responsive because they may actually be seeking you out to consider their company for employment.  Again, this varies depending on the company and how they leverage their recruiters.

In all, while it is good to know recruiters, we encourage you focus your networking effort in connecting with actual working professionals (including UCI alumni) who is working or has worked at your target companies.  Usually, these contacts can offer additional advice for you and some may have insights as to hiring needs within their teams.

What happens if I am unable to secure an internship?

First and foremost, let’s stay positive from the get-go and approach your search with the intended result of securing an internship.  This mental shift will help you tremendously throughout your search.

That said, if you are truly concerned, here are some options in lieu of an internship:

  • Take on a personal project to boost your resume (e.g. build a website or app)
  • Work for a professor on campus
  • Volunteer for an organization that needs software/web development support
  • Learn a new skill through online courses from Udemy or Coursera
  • Participate in in-person or online Hackathons
  • Practice on Leetcode or HackerRank to improve performance on technical interviews
  • Fully dedicate time to networking with industry professionals and secure a full-time position for after graduation

Who can I go to for career development and job search support?

As a student in an ICS Professional Master’s Program, you have access to a dedicated Career Development team that will provide you career development and job search support during your program.  Throughout the year, the Career Development team will deliver career workshops that have been strategically timed according to the internship and job search timelines for most students.  Please sign into CODE to see upcoming workshops and events.

You also have the option to attend events and workshops through UCI Division of Career Pathways (DCP).

What is the best way to schedule a meeting with a Career Advisor?

The Career Development team will hold office hours beginning Fall Week 1.  In order to support as many students as we can prior to recruiting events scheduled in Fall, there will be additional office hours for individual appointments during Weeks 1 through 3.

Please note that appointments during Weeks 1 to 3 will be limited to Resume and Cover Letter review for incoming students.  Other appointments such as LinkedIn review, mock interviews, will be available to all students beginning Fall Week 4.

You can make an appointment with an advisor on the Career Development team in CODE up to two weeks in advance.

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