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Is admissions really that competitive?

royalrangeroyalrange Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
edited December 2016 in Graduate School
From sources such as thegradcafe, I have seen mountains and mountains of rejections for MS degrees before one admit shows up. This is from a school ranked around 20-30 nationally (US) in my field of interest. Another school I looked at (ranked 50+ nationally) boasts an admission rate of approximately 10% or lower for their MS degree.

How is it possible for even MS programs to be so incredibly low? People say to first do an MS to boost your chances of getting into a strong PhD program if your current credentials are lacking (which probably fits my scenario). But if programs in the top 50 or so only accept few (10% or lower) applicants for their MS, how exactly does one get in without applying to some low tier school?

Because of this I am extremely anxious about graduate admissions. There are a number of schools that have Jan 15 deadlines or later in which I can still apply to, but I feel very unmotivated thinking about my prospects.

Replies to: Is admissions really that competitive?

  • xraymancsxraymancs Forum Champion Graduate School Posts: 4,647 Forum Champion
    It very much depends on the field and the specific graduate program. You don't provide enough context for anyone to really answer.
  • royalrangeroyalrange Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    edited December 2016
    I am applying for programs in electrical engineering.

    The University of Wisconsin-Madison, ranked in the 20-30 range in the US by QS, provides statistics for their admission rates: https://www.gradsch.wisc.edu/webextras/education/academicprograms/profiles/382MS.pdf.
    The number of admission offers for international applicants for the MS, for the most recent period given, was a low 9.3%. I am an international applicant.

    The Iowa State University, ranked in the 50-60 range in the US by QS, states "For the MS and Ph.D. degree programs... admission is typically offered to 5- to 10-percent of our applicants" :http://www.ece.iastate.edu/academics/graduate-faqs/. Although it can be argued that the admission rate for MS at this school is much higher, I highly doubt that there is such a significant percentage difference between the admission rates for the MS versus the PhD.

    I haven't applied to these programs, but I am feeling hopeless just by looking at figures like these. Are admission rates like these typically expected for MS programs, even at schools ranked ~50+ in the US?
  • Karme1121Karme1121 Registered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
    I am not sure if this is the case in your field. However, many graduate programs are fully funded in that they give you a living stipend and cover the majority of your tuition, If that is the case for the program you are looking at then that could be one of the reasons why. I have a daughter graduating with her masters and applying to many schools for a PhD program. Some of the schools only accept 1 or 2 students per year, mainly because they need to be paired up with a professor as their advisor/mentor that has the same interests in the field and she is only looking at schools that will fully fund her. It is extremely competitive. She has applied to many schools from the higher ranked to the lesser ranked schools in order to try to increase the odds to get accepted into at least 1 program/school. Best of luck to you!
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,713 Super Moderator
    While thegradcafe can be a source of really useful information, it should primarily be viewed as a place for qualitative information and not any reliable quantitative data. The acceptance/rejection statistics at thegradcafe are based entirely on people voluntarily providing accurate data to the engine. But not everyone is aware of the website, and therefore not everyone who applies to a program reports their results. You may only be seeing a small fraction of the people who applied to a program, and maybe the people who did report to thegradcafe are disproportionately the folks who got rejected. You definitely can't estimate acceptance rates from the website.

    My advice may sound counterintuitive, but don't worry so much about acceptance rates. What you really need to worry about is your fit for the programs you are applying for and your own credentials. The fact that a program has a 10% acceptance rate, for example, may not matter if you are a superstar candidate. Your odds may thus be higher. Maybe a program has a low acceptance rate because everyone is trying to shoot their shot despite not being qualified.

    So talk to your advisor, take a good look at your application, and think about where your credentials match the average profile of students who are accepted. Then don't worry about acceptance rates.
  • ~~~~~~ Registered User Posts: 103 Junior Member
    UW stats shows that domestic admission acceptance rates for both PhD and MS are 50+. Internationals are 10- I wonder the acceptance rate for international without Chinese students?
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