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Grad Schools in Boston

tim131tim131 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
edited July 2009 in Graduate School
Hey all,

After I finish my Undergrad degree in the UK, I am seriously thinking about going to Boston (I have family there) to do a PhD in Computer Science, I am wondering, in your opinion, how do the colleges in the Boston area look upon international students, do tehy favour do they discriminate? Also is it true in the states PhDs are free?

Any info would be great,

Many Thanks,

Tim :)
Post edited by tim131 on

Replies to: Grad Schools in Boston

  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Posts: 3,312Registered User Senior Member
    Boston is a major city - you will find both the tolerant and the intolerant. I have yet to hear of any particular discrimination on the part of the universities there.

    Science/engineering PhD's are generally not paid for by the student in the US. While some assistance is limited to US citizens (such as the NSF GRFP fellowships) the majority is in the form of university or departmental aid, either in the form of a work-free fellowship or else as a TA or RA requiring some number of teaching or research hours per week respectively. All of these come with tuition and fee waivers but bear in mind that state-assisted schools often have different rates for in-state and out-of-state students, and that the waivers are very occasionally limited to the lower in-state rate.

    The Boston area is home to some fantastic schools, depending on your qualifications. Good luck!
  • tim131tim131 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    Great thanks for the reply, I went to Boston 5 years ago, and fell in love with the city, it's a very Irish city, so I'd defo fit in, as I'm Irish :)

    would these tuiton fee waivers be available for International students? I know and understand that obviously they should be given to US citizens first, but am wondering, if I were to do a PhD would I come out in masses of debt?

    Thanks again :)
  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Posts: 3,312Registered User Senior Member
    With the exception of the government programs mentioned earlier, tuition fee waivers are not limited to US citizens as they are being granted by the university itself. If you are accepted with a fellowship, RA, or TA offer it will generally include such a waiver, for which you would be 100% eligible. Associated fees are also usually paid, but textbooks and medical insurance may not be. I am not aware of any additional fees automatically imposed on international students. As such, your only debt would be that due to any difference between your stipend and your lifestyle!

    This is really the kind of question PhD students in the US wind up asking - if my RA pays me $23,000 to live in Chicago, can I live on that much?
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Posts: 12,196Super Moderator Senior Member
    Universities in the US don't discriminate against international students, but it's generally more difficult to get into a US PhD program as an international. As has been mentioned, domestic students are often funded by the US government, but international students are usually funded by the department itself. Therefore, schools often have limited funds to support international students, and many very highly qualified international students apply to many programs.
  • tim131tim131 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    Thanks guys, I appreciate the responses, and am happy to hear there is no discrimination against internationals.

    Now, Boston probably has the best colleges in the world, Harvard, MIT etc, and these are all immensly hard to get into. What other colleges do good PhD programs, that wouldn't be as competitve as the afformentioned, and which are maybe international student friendly (like they like to get internationals in)

    Thanks again.
  • threetwelvethreetwelve Posts: 10Registered User New Member
    If you want to be in Boston-proper, you have a few more universities to look at for a PhD in Comp Sci. The first two that come to mind are Boston University and Northeastern University. BU has the better reputation between the two, especially on the national level. NU is considered an "up-and-coming" university, and it's definitely well known in the Boston area. So, if you're looking to stick around here afterward, it wouldn't be a bad choice. I'd say that Northeastern's best programs are in Engineering and Computer Science, actually.

    If you're willing to look in Boston's surrounding areas, there are some more options available to you (Harvard and MIT, for example). Tufts University is not too far from the city (it's on the same subway system) and is well regarded in the US. Brandeis University is another college with a good reputation, but it's in Waltham. Waltham is considered close to Boston if you have a car, but otherwise you're kinda stuck in a not too great city.

    And if you're willing to go even farther away from the city, UMass Amherst or Worcester Poly Tech might be good options. But those really aren't close to Boston at all. Amherst is a big college town, but is essentially in the middle of nowhere. Worcester is a big city in central Mass, but it's certainly not Boston...

    Hope that helps.
  • tim131tim131 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    Thanks for the reply threetwleve it was very helpful.

    I would be really looking anywhere in the Boston area, within walking ditance to the "T"

    I looked at BU - I know it has a great reputation, we've heard of it over here so...

    I was also looking at Northeastern University, and UMass, Boston, they look like good places! But again, I am uncertain if I would have to pay for a PhD, as I couldn't afford it, it's massively expensive.

    Also another quick question, I know you don't need a masters to do a PhD, but some places prefer you to have on I think?

    What is the situation with tuition for Masters? I heard you can get tuition waived if you work for the college or something like that? Is that only for nationals, As I have been thinking, possibly it would be better to do masters, before PhD, but if its going to cost me 60,000 dollars, it probably isn't worth it.

    Thanks again, I appreicate your help :)
  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Posts: 3,312Registered User Senior Member
    Few (if any) programs expect you to have the masters degree, and a masters taken elsewhere may not fully transfer to the PhD program. For most programs, a masters before PhD is used either to investigate a field about which you are unsure, or else to bolster a relatively weak application by providing a new gpa and some research.

    Masters funding is just like PhD funding, only harder - most people who do the masters on its own wind up paying out of pocket. As a masters candidate you can still receive RA and TA positions which would waive tuition and pay a stipend, but most schools prefer to offer them to PhD candidates first, with the masters students figting over the remains. Again, RA and TA positions are not linked to nationality (with rare exceptions, like MIT's Lincoln Lab RA's).

    In case you are not familiar with the abbreviations, TA stands for Teaching Assistant(ship), which is someone who assists a professor with their teaching duties in exchange for free tuition and a subsistence stipend. RA stands for Research Assistant, which is similar but you assist in a lab or research activity instead of teaching. Both are generally available to internationals, and these are the most common ways of getting a PhD. They generally require about 20 hours of work per week on average, but with an RA position you are often doing some of your own research during that time as well. That is one of the reason RA positions are more popular, plus the fact that they often pay more.
  • tim131tim131 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    Thanks for that cosmicfish. It's reassuring, so I think I would be interested in a PhD moreso than a masters, as at least I'm more likely (almost garunteed) to get some sort of tuition waiver!

    Much appreciated.
  • sarbruissarbruis Posts: 290Registered User Junior Member
    If you are accepted to a reputable PhD program in the sciences, you're virtually assured of having enough money to get by. You certainly won't pay any tuition, and the stipend is usually enough to support yourself and can probably be augmented as needed with a TA position or funding from your adviser.
  • Mr.ZooMr.Zoo Posts: 248Registered User Junior Member
    tim131: I just got into a PhD program in BU with a master degree.

    Let me tell you two things: 1, you do not have to have a masters degree to apply for PhD, however if you have one (like me), it gives you much better chance. 2, I am pretty sure as a CS PhD student, your tuition will be waived and school will pay you a stipend, so $$$ is not issue here.

    And yea Boston is a great town.

    Good luck!
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