I have got my BS and master both with honor with good GPAs. But Now I want to know which of these have more importance to US PhD program in Computer engineering.
TOEFL and GRE or publication records. What I am looking for is some case like this:

  1. T : 107 G : x p : 0

  2. T : 98 G : x p : 1

which case has more chance ?

  • 2
    The TOEFL is important if you're from a non-English speaking country. If you don't do well, it'll look really bad for applications. The GRE is more of a test of basic skills and committees don't really care as long as you meet some minimum requirements. Publications, GPA (particularly in advanced courses you've taken) and recommendation letters are the biggest parts of your application. Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 18:22
  • @CameronWilliams thanks what about honors, Can I count on that?
    – M R R
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 18:23
  • 1
    Honors is definitely a very good distinction on your degrees. It will undoubtedly work in your favor. Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 18:24
  • You are not alone in looking for the admissions formula, but that is just not how PhD admissions work.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 18:54

1 Answer 1



PhD admissions committees at strong departments are looking for clear evidence of potential for high-quality independent research.

Test scores only matter if they're low. In particular, if your math score is low, there will be serious doubts about your math ability, and if your verbal/TOEFL score is low, there will be serious questions about your communication skills. In some departments (like mine in CS), admission to the PhD requires a TOEFL Speak score above a certain minimum (in my case: 22), because all PhD students are expected to be TAs at least once while they're in the program, and the state of Illinois requires a minimum Speak score (in my case: 24) on TAs who are not native English speakers.

Publication records only matter if the papers are either good or horrible. It's utterly impossible to tell from the number of publications whether the applicant has significant promise for future independent research. High-quality papers, written in flawless English, published in well-known venues that are easily accessible online from the US, are definitely helpful. Poorly written incremental results in the Inaccessible Khazakhstani Journal of Computer Stuff is at best meaningless and at worst actively damaging.

  • When I was in charge of graduate admissions (and, as far as I know, ever since), foreign Ph.D. students had to be offered at least a year's support (in order to get their visas), and the only form of support we could offer was teaching assistantships. So when admitting students, we had to be confident about their ability to teach first-year calculus or pre-calculus, in understandable English. If, after they arrived, the college deemed their English inadequate, we had to pay them a TA salary for a year but couldn't use them as TAs --- not good for our budget. Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 15:41

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