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How competitive of an applicant am I for top EECS PhD programs

ilovedonuts000ilovedonuts000 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
Hi everyone, I am about to apply for programs for signal processing and I don't have a good understanding of how competitive my application might be. I am aiming for top 10 schools in EECS to pursue signal processing and do image processing research. I have some more work to do to identify specific professors with whom I'd want to work, but at the moment I have my eye on UC Berkeley. I know nobody can tell me my exact chances, but I want to get a feel for how realistic it is for me to get accepted into one of these competitive programs. A little about myself:

I did my undergrad at Brown and graduated with honors. Brown does not compute GPA and doesn't append +/- to grades, but on a 4.0 scale I'd be around a 3.75. My degree is in Neuroscience and I did 3 years of computer vision research. I published this research as the primary author in a peer reviewed journal after my senior year and presented at the VSS conference. I TA'd 5 courses, 4 were computer science courses and 1 was a biological computer vision course. After graduation I went to work at Google as a software engineer. I work on a research based team that does video compression. I have been here 2 years and have 1 primary authorship from my work at Google and 1 conference talk. I also recently had 1 paper for which I was the primary author, and 1 for which I was a secondary author accepted to ICIP (IEEE image processing conference.) I have filed 4 patents on algorithms related to video compression, but it is not yet clear how many of these will be approved. I think I have 3 solid letters of recommendation from people well known in the fields computational neuroscience, signal processing, and computer graphics. I have not yet taken the GRE, my test date is in 2 months. I assume I'll be able to do well enough on the math for top schools, but realistically, my reading scores might be pretty average. I haven't written my personal statement but I am very close with my letter writers and I think I'll be able to get good feedback from them.

If I work hard to put together thoughtful applications, do you think I have a chance at getting interviews at top programs? Is there anything you think I should try to accomplish by the time I apply in December?

Replies to: How competitive of an applicant am I for top EECS PhD programs

  • RenaissanceMomRenaissanceMom Registered User Posts: 1,043 Senior Member
    Hi, Based on my son's grad app cycle this year, I'd say you're pretty competitive for UCB and other top schools. My elder son is also a Brown grad, neuroscience concentrator, who's worked in a neuro lab at another Ivy for the last two years. His GPA is just slightly under yours, he had a 334 GRE (168 math, 166 verbal, 5.5 analytical writing), three publications (one generated by his brown honors thesis), 10 conferences. He applied to 8 schools and was accepted at 5: 1 in the top 3, another 2 in the top 5, another in the top 15 and his safety, which is ranked around 25. So, if his experience is any indication, I think you'll do well.

    One thing he did do, which may have helped him get into programs, is apply for some grad school grants, which he discussed in his interviews. He applied to 3, was awarded one, got an honorable mention on another, and rejected from the third. At the very least, you should probably apply for a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship grant. Brown students/alumni do well with these.


    Also, you'll probably get more responses on Grad Cafe than on CC.

    Best of luck to you!
  • nakorurunakoruru Registered User Posts: 142 Junior Member
    I'd say that you are decently competitive so far, pending the results of your GRE.

    Your research portfolio is great and you GPA is not bad, though if you are worried at all about the GPA not being high enough for a top 5 EECS PhD program, you might want to consider pursuing a master's degree before going for the PhD. Get a good GPA in a master's program would help demonstrate that you can succeed well at the graduate level.
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