Transferring into UT-Austin Computer Science

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Admission to Computer Science whether you’re applying as a first-time freshman or transfer is extremely competitive. Popularity of Computer Science programs nationwide has expanded geometrically in the past ten years.

Consider this post showing application numbers for first-time freshman from 2010-2016.

Last year, many 4.0 applicants with relevant STEM experience did not gain admission. Getting in requires nearly perfect grades, an extensive resume/compelling essays, and getting really lucky.

Here is the profile of an admitted CS applicant for Fall 2016.

Prerequisite requirements to transfer into Computer Science

All applicants must apply in the fall and have 24 hours completed or in progress. Minimum GPA consideration is a 3.0 with competitive applicants earning 3.8 or higher with a 4.0 in STEM courses.

To be most competitive, students should have earned credit for calculus and should have complete or in progress a minimum of nine credit hours in first-year math and science courses for science majors.”

At a minimum, you should have completed or in progress the first year of calculus. Since there are no admissions statistics for the CS transfer admitted student profile, it’s hard to make firm recommendations.

Incoming transfers should also anticipate spending at least three years completing their degree regardless of how many credits you’ve already earned.

Tips for External Transfer to UT Computer Science

Reviewers are looking for a demonstrated commitment to activities and interests related to computer science. Because so many students apply, they can be selective about who they choose. Although CS/Programming/Robotics experience is not necessary to get in, it definitely helps.

The reality is that, with access to a ton of independent study and resource options that are either free or inexpensive, there are way more opportunities than when I was applying to college. Admissions staff regularly sees applicants with a high level of competency, so it's important that you set yourself apart.

Even though applicants may be doing really neat things, they're not always good at expanding upon their activities in their resume or elaborating on their interests and showing how they're a good fit for computer science in their essays.

Like any other program, reviewers are looking for self-starters, students who can work independently and/or in groups, curiosity and passion about their future studies.

Reviewers want to see that you spend your free time tinkering and exploring just because it will help your admissions chances but because you can't imagine doing anything else.

There is a huge range of successful kinds of Computer Science applicants, and most of them won't have a typical resume of leadership experience, volunteer hours, or your standard list of extracurricular activities.

All things equal, independent study will almost always look more impressive than joining an organization or contributing to an already established project.

Crafting your Computer Science Essay A Statement of Purpose and Expanded Resume

This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you an idea of some things to consider in your own portfolio based on what I've seen other successful applicants submit. You need to be as explicit as possible about:

  • Which programming languages and software you know

  • What resources you've used to learn and your level of competency (elementary, intermediate, proficient, expert)

  • Any independent projects, applications, or games you've developed

  • Leadership positions in niche or underrepresented communities like women in STEM or a Hispanic robotics team

  • Advanced mathematics beyond high school calculus like linear algebra or differential equations

  • STEM extracurricular activities like robotics, Technology Student Association, Science Olympiad, Intel ISEF, etc.

  • Consider including your personal site if you want to give reviewers the chance to look at your work (they won't always do so)

  • If you've conducted research with a professor, note any publications that may be in progress, the journal, and if you're a sole or co-author

  • Unpaid internships or paid employment with technology companies or start-ups

  • Certificates, open-source courses, or university credits you have earned and the approximate number of hours it took for completion

  • Related community service or volunteer projects (like building a website for a non-profit, creating a record keeping software for an animal shelter, constructing and managing a mailing list, etc)

  • Experience and/or demonstrated competency in graphic design, video editing, search engine optimization, online marketing, digital publishing, cryptocurrency, architectural/engineering/statistics software, music production, 3D printing

  • Unconventional activities that are important to you but may be unfamiliar to your reviewers yet are important to you

  • Special circumstances or obstacles you've overcome, i.e. not having AP Computer Science at your school, no access to mentors with relevant experience, starting your own club, not having internet at home

For activities or interests that are most interesting to you, consider spending at least some parts of your essays providing context why they interest you, how it helps shape your current and future academic/professional goals, and why you would be a good fit for your choice of major.

You should also consider discussing why UT-Austin specifically is a great fit for you. I suggest that you explicitly identify at least a few resources, student organizations, professors, research labs, upper-division coursework, and professional opportunities in Austin and why you are uniquely interested in UT.

Interested in maximizing your UT-Austin Computer Science transfer chances? Get started with a free consultation.

Kevin MartinTransfer