Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community polls, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

MIT vs Carnegie Mellon for Computer Science

UChicago2016UChicago2016 Posts: 280User Awaiting Email Confirmation Junior Member
The thread tile basically says it all, if you were offered admission to both universites at Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science and MIT for Computer Science. Which one would you choose and why?
Post edited by UChicago2016 on
«13

Replies to: MIT vs Carnegie Mellon for Computer Science

  • ielizabethielizabeth Posts: 12Registered User New Member
    I'm not a rank-lover.
  • ClassicRockerDadClassicRockerDad Posts: 4,290Registered User Senior Member
    These are somewhat different experiences, and nobody would fault you for either choice.

    As the Kia hamsters say

    YouTube - 2010 Kia Soul Hamster Commercial | Black Sheep Kia Hamsters Video

    "The choice is yours: You can go with this, or you can go with that!".
  • MITChrisMITChris Posts: 1,490College Rep Senior Member
    both are good. really depends on the culture / match / feel. i'd go to both accepted students weekends and see what i liked afterwards.
  • collegealum314collegealum314 Posts: 6,565Registered User Senior Member
    There's no EE core for CS majors at Carnegie Mellon for one (although you could major in math for comp. sci at MIT and avoid EE.)

    Carnegie Mellon's has a fine comp sci. program. That said, it's rare to turn down MIT for Carnegie Mellon, even in comp sci. I knew a MIT guy who interned in a company with a bunch of Carnegie Mellon people at a software company, and they said he treated him like dirt because he went to MIT. I personally worked with a Carnegie Mellon guy, who said they hate MIT. There seems to be some jealousy or at least resentment there. I don't know if that should impact your decision, except that you may have to ignore the "Hey, we aren't really second best" undercurrent if you go there.
  • mathboy98mathboy98 Posts: 3,752Registered User Senior Member
    In the world of undergrad (and perhaps grad too), MIT carries more 'overall' prestige, but there's the share of superstars, very interesting researchers, Turing Award winners, etc affiliated to both schools.

    Basically, if you really want to do computer science, you can do it at either school and it's about fit. But your high school friends will oooh and aaah more for MIT by far. So will most people in general. So it really depends if you care about their opinion (even if you disagree with it, it may be easier for you to get by if you go to MIT; or, perhaps in a different light, perhaps MIT attracts even more superstar undergrads, and maybe going to school with them would damage your self-esteem).

    Other than this, think about the following: what if you do not go into computer science? What will afford you the best options then? I realize this is not what the thread is officially about, but it naturally arises in conjunction.
  • mathboy98mathboy98 Posts: 3,752Registered User Senior Member
    I personally worked with a Carnegie Mellon guy, who said they hate MIT.

    That's too bad. I think this sort of thing exists mainly between undergraduate students, and the faculty at top CS schools probably try to collaborate.
  • k4r3n2k4r3n2 Posts: 937Registered User Member
    I agree with MITChris that you should attend both admitted students' weekends - I was admitted to both CMU and MIT and visited both, but ultimately I felt that MIT was a better fit for me personality-wise than CMU. The MIT admissions officers definitely put a lot of effort into admitting students that they think would be good fits at MIT, which I'm not sure is the case at CMU, so this may also be a part of the reason that most students choose to matriculate at MIT when deciding between the two.
  • phantasmagoricphantasmagoric Posts: 2,200Registered User Senior Member
    While I agree with the above advice, I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the difference in size. CMU has an entire school devoted to computer science, which means that it has 'room' for more diversity of CS subfields, as well as more interdisciplinary options. That's why CMU SCS has several departments in areas that most schools don't have an entire unit devoted to--machine learning, language technologies, robotics, HCI, etc. At MIT, on the other hand, CS is not even independent administratively; it's administered in the EECS department. The same sort of administrative combination is true of CSAIL--whereas CS and AI have separate labs at other schools (like Stanford, Berkeley, and CMU), the two fall under the same lab at MIT. This has both positives and negatives. The point is, because of its administrative divisions, CMU is probably able to achieve more depth across the breadth, as evidenced by the vast array of PhD, MS, and BS programs they offer. This is just guessing, but I'm willing to bet SCS has more faculty than CS at MIT, and offers more courses as well.

    MIT students on CC will bite my head off for saying this, but this greater depth/breadth might actually (gasp!) mean better opportunities for undergrads--more activities, forums, speakers, job advertisements (CMU SCS is a feast for recruiters, I would think), and above all research--more faculty means more graduate students, postdocs, and research associates, not to mention more CS undergrads. Of course, I have no idea what the headcount (esp. faculty) is for SCS and MIT CS--anyone have that data? The takeaway point is that while MIT is more prestigious, CMU has built a "mecca" of computer science and so might have a stronger, “purer” culture in CS.

    Not as helpful, but the SCS complex is some 217,000 sq ft, whereas CSAIL takes up a portion of the Stata Center, which is 720,000 sq ft. I can't decide which one is uglier.

    All that said, for those who want me excommunicated for not praising MIT properly, know I'm not some CMU ****, nor do I go to MIT. I'm applying to both for PhD, and if admitted, my personal preference is MIT (for various other reasons). But I do think people don't give CMU enough credit, and among the perennial top 5 CS schools, people are often tempted to shunt CMU to the side because the other 4 are big brand-name schools.
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Posts: 12,247Super Moderator Senior Member
    I don't think anyone will go so far as to stone you -- we are actually pretty friendly here on the MIT board -- I wouldn't mind disagreeing, if possible.

    In my field, molecular/cellular biology, the same argument you made in favor of CMU over MIT could be made for Harvard over MIT. Harvard has several departments of biology on the main campus, as well as even more in a large program at the medical school, and overall has many more faculty in biology than MIT. There are even multiple degrees awarded at Harvard in specialized subfields, while MIT has only one department of biology.

    Having been a student at both schools, I don't think I would recommend Harvard over MIT for a biology-leaning undergrad based on that reason. While there are more professors at Harvard in biology, and therefore more potential research opportunities for Harvard students, there are more than enough opportunities available at MIT for MIT students, and no one goes wanting. Noteworthy speakers will always come to both places. Job and grad school offers will be plentiful in both places.

    In short, I think that for students, especially for undergrads, there is a saturation point beyond which additional academic activities can't fit into peoples' lives. It's a fantastic experience to be an undergraduate in a world-class department. I'm not sure it matters that the department is gigantic.

    (For what it's worth, I also think the same is true for graduate students. It's all well and good to go to a program with eight zillion world-famous PIs, but since you have to pick just one for a thesis lab, the others don't really matter for you that much.)
  • UChicago2016UChicago2016 Posts: 280User Awaiting Email Confirmation Junior Member
    Thanks Phanta, you helped in my decision to choose CMU over MIT. I was leaning toward CMU over MIT because at CMU there is alot more diversity in students, they have CFA and many other engineering schools. Everybody at MIT is a tech-ky.
  • CalAlumCalAlum Posts: 1,367Registered User Senior Member
    @ UChicago,
    Good luck with your application to CMU. I can see that you stated on the CMU board your intent to apply ED to the school.
  • bookwormbookworm Posts: 4,872Registered User Senior Member
    I second what Mathboy said. My son was torn between CMU (SCS) and attending a tech school. He had an interest in exploring a scientific field as well as CS, so chose the latter.

    To the OP, I'm curious why you posted this question on so many boards, e.g. U Chicago?
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Posts: 12,247Super Moderator Senior Member
    I was leaning toward CMU over MIT because at CMU there is alot more diversity in students, they have CFA and many other engineering schools. Everybody at MIT is a tech-ky.
    Diversity in majors =/= diversity in students.
  • MITChrisMITChris Posts: 1,490College Rep Senior Member
    UChicago2016
    my decision to choose CMU over MIT

    one of these things is not like the other
  • mathboy98mathboy98 Posts: 3,752Registered User Senior Member
    In short, I think that for students, especially for undergrads, there is a saturation point beyond which additional academic activities can't fit into peoples' lives. It's a fantastic experience to be an undergraduate in a world-class department. I'm not sure it matters that the department is gigantic.

    What is the saturation point specifically? I've certainly heard of arguments in favor of, say, small LACs, stating that they provide what the 'undergrad' experience is meant to be. I've also seen Mollie post many senses in which undergrads and grads are not distinguished as much at a school such as MIT.

    To me, the breadth of offerings and resources (courses, professors in various fields) is invaluable for the undergrad years when one is least sure about what to do in the future. However, that betrays a bias in terms of aspiring to do graduate study. However, someone who is contrasting schools based on the characteristics of the specific departments is inherently displaying a degree of similar interest (if not in graduate study, then at least in the academics).

    I think representation of fields is important for undergrads, as the undergrad years probably influence how you develop your preferences (because you get time to sample) a lot. Not every top school does a good job of that representation, and department size can definitely be something of a hinderance.

    As for research, I'm pretty sure MIT students get enough opportunity from what the alumni/current students say. Another issue, though, is what one researches. If what you're researching and spending time on is important to you, it tends to be crucial to have a broad collection of research interests represented among the faculty.
    one of these things is not like the other

    True, but (to me) one of the funniest things is that even if a thread begins as a **** one (oh, and I don't believe in assuming it is), there may be useful info communicated. Contrasting two top CS depts is pretty cool, no matter how much whoever intended to start an argument.
«13
Sign In or Register to comment.