Research Program Application Guidelines

As an applicant to one of our research degrees (Master of Computer Science or PhD), you are expected to provide information about your past research record and future research interests.

Your past research record is included in your Curriculum Vitae, while your future research interests are included in two documents: (a) Research interests statement; (b) Research proposal

In order to maximize your chances of admission and to be considered for financial support, kindly follow the guidelines below.

A. Curriculum Vitae

Your CV should have the following information, when you have applicable information.

Full name, Postal address, email, telephone, home web page, telephone

For each degree, provide the following information:

  • The official name of the degree, name of the program, name of university, city and country.
  • If the degree had a thesis (typically bachelor or Master’s thesis), include the title of the thesis, and the name of your supervisor.
  • Year and month you started the study towards the degree, and the year and month you completed the degree
  • Status of the degree: completed, in progress, not completed

Do not include information about the high school you attended.

For each position you have held in industry as intern or employee, or in a university or research institute as lecturer, research assistant or teaching assistant, provide the following information:

  • The official name of the employer (organization and department)
  • City and country
  • Year and month you started and ended your employment
  • Specify if it was full-time or part-time
  • Job title
  • The technical and/or managerial content of your work

4. PREVIOUS RESEARCH PROJECTS (max 100 words/project)

Summarize briefly the research projects you have worked on, describing the scope of the project and your role within the project team. Include your undergraduate and Master’s thesis, as separate projects, if your respective degrees had one. You are welcome to provide links to: (a) github pages with your code, (b) publisher’s web pages of your publications that resulted from your research projects, (c) recordings of presentations that you gave, e.g. to online conferences. 

Do not include course projects or course assignments that were prescribed to you.

Provide your Google Scholar or ORCID ID, if available.

Beginning with the most recent, list your publications in the following groupings

  1. Papers published or accepted in refereed journals or conferences
  2. Papers submitted to refereed journals or conferences
  3. Other contributions (e.g. technical reports, papers, conference presentations, posters, etc)
  4. Open-source software contributions (provide link)
  5. Patents submitted or awarded
  6. Technical blog posts

For each publication, please include:

  • The full authorship as it appears in the original publication,
  • Year and month published (if it has appeared), accepted (if it has not yet appeared), submitted (if under review)
  • Full title
  • Venue name, volume, issue, publisher, number of pages or start and end page
  • DOI (Digital Object Identifier) for your paper, or URL of the published version
  • Briefly describe your role and contribution to this publication. (max 50 words/item)
  • Upload a copy of each publication to the Dal FCS grad app. If it is an accepted paper, upload the official pdf version in its published form


Beginning with the most recent, give the name of each award (scholarship, prize, competition ranking, etc) that you received, its value (if applicable), the period held or given, the scope of the award (i.e. whether it is institutional, provincial national or international) and a brief (max 100 word) description of the significance of the award.

Feel free to provide any other additional information that you feel might help us evaluate your application (max 150 words in total).

Upload your Curriculum Vitae as a single pdf file to the respective document on the Dalhousie Grad App.

B. Research Interests

Select from the list in the online graduate application form:

  1. The research area(s) you wish to pursue in graduate school. Ensure you select at least one and no more than three research areas, from the list in the Dal FCS grad app.
  2. The names of at least one and no more than three prospective thesis supervisors at Dalhousie University. 

Describe your research interests, addressing each of the following points (max. 250 words in total). :

  1. Your future academic and career plans and aspirations after graduation with the degree you are applying for.
  2. Those aspects of your previous education, training, and work experience that prepared you for graduate school and your future career, and how they helped you decide on your career path.
  3. The reasons you are interested in our graduate program.

C. Research Proposal

Submit a sample project proposal for the research you wish to undertake during your studies.

The purpose of this proposal is to show background knowledge, understanding of research methods, and ability to think through a research topic.  The expectations of a research proposal differs for a Masters application versus a PhD application; we provide separate instructions for each of these kinds of applications. 

Your research proposal does not commit you to this research direction. Indeed, most thesis students depart significantly from their initial proposals once they get here, take a few courses and start working with their supervisor.

The topic of your research proposal can vary: it could be a future research project that follows your bachelor’s or master’s thesis, or a previous research project you have worked on. If you have been in contact with a prospective supervisor at Dalhousie, your research proposal may be based on a potential thesis topic you have discussed with him/her. 

Consider the following tips for writing your research proposal:

  • Be as clear as possible. Avoid jargon and acronyms. Don't write for specialists. Explain what you want to do as if talking to your parents.
  • Break your research into a series of research activities.
  • Explain exactly how you're going to do what you propose to do to show your knowledge of research methods. Be specific.
  • Include relevant academic references if you know them, particularly for a PhD application: scholarly, peer-reviewed articles in journals and conference proceedings.
  • Explain the impact or implication of your work. 
  • Get someone to review your proposal. Proposals full of typos and grammatical errors will not be successful.
  • Write 1200 words and then refine it down to 700 words (PhD) or 400 words (Master’s).
  • Write your research proposal independently. Ideas and text belonging to others must be properly referenced.
  • Make  the research proposal self-contained. Do not refer the readers to URLs or other publications for supplemental information.

Research proposal for a Master’s application (up to 400 words plus a page for relevant references)

Provide a detailed description of your proposed research project. Be as specific as possible. Provide background information to position your proposed research within the context of current knowledge in the field. State the objectives and outline the empirical or theoretical approach to be taken (citing literature pertinent to the proposal) and the methods, techniques, and/or procedures to be used. Explain the significance of the proposed research.

If you have not yet decided on a specific project, you must still provide a detailed description of a research project or research direction. You may change your research direction or activities during the course of your studies.

Provide a bibliography that includes citations for all works referenced in the research proposal. These citations should be in a format used in Computer Science journals and conferences. You must ensure that all citations are clear and complete, to allow reviewers to easily locate the sources.

Research proposal for a PhD application (up to 700 words plus one page for relevant  references)

A 700-word proposal might be laid out as follows. This is just an example; you don't have to follow it exactly

Background (2 paragraphs);

  • Paragraph one: define the topic of interest and motivate the proposed research by identifying a specific opportunity to make the world better.
  • Paragraph two: describe what is known about this area, including references. Make sure it's obvious how your idea extends or departs from existing research, without being overly critical or dismissive of existing research.

Objectives and Hypotheses (1 paragraph)

  • One short paragraph for objectives or research goals followed by a numbered list of research questions, one per research activity proposed in the method section

Method (3-4 paragraphs

  • Describe a set of research activities (one paragraph per activity).  In most disciplines, these research activities are a series of interconnected or related activities that build on the previous activities.
    • Assume you have what you need (e.g. if you need buy-in from an industry partner or a $10,000 piece of hardware, or 100 hours on a supercluster, just assume it's available).
    • Each research activity should answer one research question or address one hypothesis from the Objectives section. Begin each paragraph, "To address RQ1, we will…" or "To address H1, we will…"
    • It is usually a good idea for the first question to be about the state of research on the topic of interest, and the first research activity to be a systematic literature review on the proposed topic.
  • For each research activity:
    • Clearly state the type of activity (e.g. a literature review, a randomized controlled experiment, an implementation with a novel outcome or infrastructure, a proof, a questionnaire survey, a case study).
    • If one of your research activities involves building something, you need a key insight that allows you to build something novel. If you propose design-as-research, describe your exploration and feedback, and how they will inform your design.
    • Clearly explain what results or data you must collect to demonstrate success and, if the steps involve data, explain how you will collect and analyze the data.
    • Briefly address any design considerations for the proposed research activity. For example, if you're doing an experiment with human participants, you might say it was "between subjects, fully crossed design" or a "within-subjects pre-test, post-test design." If you're going to use generative modeling, name the specific technique you will use (e.g. Hidden Markov Models) and state why it's appropriate for this kind of data.
    • Be specific without using jargon. Assume the reader knows what an experiment is but has never heard of your topic.

Expected contributions (1-2 paragraphs)

  • Describe how the research will (a) contribute to knowledge and (b) help regular people. Don't be modest. Sell the proposal like you are presenting it to a panel of business investors, and convince them that your idea is worth investing in. Without being pretentious, explain who will benefit from this work, how they will benefit, and why those benefits will be significant. Don't skimp on this section. If your proposed research is more fundamental than what could reach regular people, discuss its impact on and implications for the research area.

Conclusion (1 paragraph)

  • Explain why, for this work, Dal is the right place to do it, why you are the right person to do it (based on your academic background, work experience, volunteer experience, community service, etc.) and why your proposed supervisor is the right person to supervise it. Tie it all together so everything about the proposal aligns. For example, if your research was about the programming language Python, you might explain that you contributed to the Python open-source project for several years, and that's why you're proposing the project about Python, and you can use your contacts from the Python Software Foundation to get your work into the next release of the language. 

References (up to 1 page, not included in the 700 word count)

  • Provide a bibliography that includes citations for all works referenced in the research proposal. These citations should be in a format used in Computer Science journals and conferences. You must ensure that all citations are clear and complete, to allow reviewers to easily locate the sources.

To submit, combine your Research Interests and Research Proposal into a single pdf file and upload it as the “Statement of Intent and Research Interests” document on the Dalhousie Grad App.



Please upload all documents to your application in the Dalhousie Grad App system.