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CS Masters at top 5

PPofEngrDrPPofEngrDr 1236 replies10 threads Senior Member
Posting for my S who is a CS junior at UofI/UIUC. Currently interning remotely at A->Z. He has set very high bar for CS masters, at top 5 programs only, mainly Stanford and CMU, otherwise goes to job market next summer. He is not interested on fast track/online masters as he wants to build on AI/ML research.
Academics wise he is doing great, GPA 3.90+, his GRE score is 335 (165+170). He is researching with professors who are not part of CS department.
Questions:
How those LORs from non-CS professors would affect his application?
Does he have a fair chance based on profile?
Anything you may like to share and guide us.
12 replies
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Replies to: CS Masters at top 5

  • juilletjuillet 12827 replies164 threads Super Moderator
    This is just my personal opinion, but based on the covid-19 epidemic and how it's affecting universities, your son may want to consider concentrating more heavily on the job market - especially if he does not want to do an online master's. Many programs are switching to hybrid or online-only models to reduce in-person physical contact between students (and thus transmission of the disease).

    I'm not in computer science. We can't really weigh chances for graduate programs, but his GPA and GRE scores make him a relatively strong candidate. He'd probably want to get at least 1-2 recommendations from CS professors; 1 recommendation from a person in a related field who knows him very well and has supervised him in research would probably be fine. (But it depends on the field - I'm in psychology, and while a recommendation from a sociology professor with overlapping research could be really good, a recommendation from an art history professor wouldn't do much for us because our methods and theories are so different.)
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  • PPofEngrDrPPofEngrDr 1236 replies10 threads Senior Member
    @juillet thanks for feedback.
    your son may want to consider concentrating more heavily on the job market - especially if he does not want to do an online master's.
    Thought more people do online masters because of time flexibility and doing jot at the same time. Am I missing something here?
    Many programs are switching to hybrid or online-only models to reduce in-person physical contact between students (and thus transmission of the disease).
    I should have clarified, he will be applying this fall, so master's won't start until next summer/fall. Will pandemic still be non-economic havoc then? From economic point of view, job market in next summer may be little down as this summer lots of folks lost internship and fresh undergrads offers were rescinded.
    (But it depends on the field - I'm in psychology, and while a recommendation from a sociology professor with overlapping research could be really good, a recommendation from an art history professor wouldn't do much for us because our methods and theories are so different.)
    Agree with that, his professors are affiliated with CS related field, robotics, just not part of CS department where he is majoring from.

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  • CalCUStanfordCalCUStanford 193 replies4 threads Junior Member
    PPofEngrDr wrote: »
    Questions:
    How those LORs from non-CS professors would affect his application?

    My two cents -

    1. I'd say it's even better if your S can get great LORs (w/ waiver) from top-notch professors from Math/Stat departments.

    2. Make sure that he would take as many advanced math/stat courses as possible with truly outstanding performance.

    3. Paper published and/or as top award winner from international competitions (e.g., ICPC)

    In addition, aim to get 990 on GRE math subj test. Remember he's competiting with the best of the best minds of the world for several hundred seats at top five CS programs (i.e., MIT, Stanford, CMU, UCB, UIUC/Cornell/Caltech)

    Good luck to him!
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  • BeaudreauBeaudreau 1160 replies39 threads Senior Member
    Has your son given any thought to a graduate robotics degree? Machine learning and AI are core in this field. My son is starting his third year as a Michigan aerospace engineering PhD student. One of his housemates is a Michigan robotics PhD student, so I've looked at it a bit. It's an incredible program! https://robotics.umich.edu/academic-program/

    They attract top students from all over the world, including from MIT, Caltech, CMU, Michigan, Illinois, and top international universities. https://robotics.umich.edu/people/students/
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  • PPofEngrDrPPofEngrDr 1236 replies10 threads Senior Member
    @CalCUStanford thanks for guidance, to your points.
    1. Do you mean CS department? Why Math/Stat department? His research involves with ECE (Electrical and Comp Eng) professors.
    2. I should have mentioned, he is pursuing Stat minor.
    3. tbh, I am not that much familiar and not sure with timeline he can achieve that. I thought publication is generally for PhD programs.

    GRE Math test: Is that required by top 5 schools? I thought only GRE general. UIUC doesn't even need GRE (I believe that one is in his pocket, but he wants to venture out another school). Something I have to figure out.

    @Beaudreau thanks for information, currently he is debating ML/AI and CV, I know he has heart with robotics since high school club time.
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  • BeaudreauBeaudreau 1160 replies39 threads Senior Member
    @PPofEngrDr - Good luck to your son! He will have some very exciting opportunities. My middle son is just finishing up a BME masters at Georgia Tech (2 weeks to go!) any my youngest son is applying to three on-line masters programs (Florida, Auburn, and Lehigh) in materials engineering, specializing in polymers. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions in general about grad-school apps.
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  • CalCUStanfordCalCUStanford 193 replies4 threads Junior Member
    PPofEngrDr wrote: »
    1. Do you mean CS department? Why Math/Stat department? His research involves with ECE (Electrical and Comp Eng) professors.
    2. I should have mentioned, he is pursuing Stat minor.
    3. tbh, I am not that much familiar and not sure with timeline he can achieve that. I thought publication is generally for PhD programs.

    GRE Math test: Is that required by top 5 schools? I thought only GRE general. UIUC doesn't even need GRE (I believe that one is in his pocket, but he wants to venture out another school). Something I have to figure out.

    @PPofEngrDr:

    Your S is so fortunate to have a parent like you!

    1. Based on my own experience, most top-tier graduate schools in EE/CS program prefer applicants with strong math backgrounds not to mention in the fields of AI/ML as "many of the newest algorithms, such as neural networks, random forests, and k-nearest neighbors, use STATISTICS not only to build a model but also to evaluate its accuracy." I believe your S knows the important roles of Math/Stat play in the field of AI/ML. If I were him, I'd have three LoRs: one from CS, one from ECE and one from Math/Stat.

    2. Good, he's CS w/ Stat minor as stat is the cornerstone of AI/ML. Not sure if he's required to take upper div/1st year G. courses in Inference Theory, Stochastic Process, Prob & Measure Theory, etc. As for Math requirements, he's OK if he's taken upper div. linear algebra and matrix theory, numberical analysis, numberical linear algebra, and maybe real analysis and abstract algebra.

    3. Some of the best minds I met at Berkeley/Stanford in 2000s had already done so either thru joint paper published and/or as a member of winning team in well-known international competitions.

    GRE Math subj test is a way to prove if the applicant is well-equipped with advanced math. It's generally not required but highly recommended. Some schools may have such requirements so please check his target schools for details.

    Given the fact that your S has done pretty well at UIUC, plus the uncertainty of international application (especially from China), I think he has a good chance of landing top 10 CS programs and even Big 4 (Stanford, MIT, CMU, UCB).

    Best of luck to him!
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  • PPofEngrDrPPofEngrDr 1236 replies10 threads Senior Member
    @Beaudreau thanks for encouragement and certainly reach out directly once application process begins in fall.
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  • PPofEngrDrPPofEngrDr 1236 replies10 threads Senior Member
    @CalCUStanford thanks for encouragement and I am fortunate to have capable kids. He took exploratory grade school class last fall t understand nuances of it.
    1. LORs recommendation seems doable.
    2. Stat classes Statistics and probability I, II, methods of applied statistics committed. 2 more stat classes (undecided) in last semester. Math Calc II, III, applied linear algebra, numerical methods
    3. This is certainly going to be challenge if not impossible. Will throw the pitch but rest on him.

    He is planning to reach out few admission offices and find out GRE math test as that is not conducted often unlike general.

    Thanks for confidence. MIT is certainly on radar, should he decide to go PhD route as MIT doesn't offer masters degree.
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  • Rivet2000Rivet2000 1631 replies3 threads Senior Member
    edited July 14
    Stanford's requirements for masters applicants are pretty normal: Statement of Purpose, 3 Recommendation Letters (they recommend that 2 be written by academic sources), resume (great if you have any published papers), college transcripts, and GRE General Test.

    I think LORs can help quite a bit. On the Stanford CS admissions page they list what they like to see on the LORs.

    Good luck.
    edited July 14
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 6643 replies2 threads Senior Member
    edited July 15
    "CS junior at UofI/UIUC"

    This is a VERY good university for CS. You do not need to attend a "top 10" university to do very well with a degree in CS, but since he is at a "top 5" CS program, and with "GPA 3.90+", he is already doing really well!

    "at top 5 programs only, mainly Stanford and CMU, otherwise goes to job market next summer"

    I think that this is a very good plan. If I were in your son's position I do not think that I would attend a lower ranked master's program right now compared to UIUC. His chances are probably pretty good at getting into a top CS master's program, and if he doesn't then working for a couple of years and then reapplying to master's programs would be a sensible plan.

    When I was a master's student at a well ranked university, there were certainly a lot of students (including me) who had some work experience. I do not know whether it was the majority, but it was certainly very common. I have always felt that having had some work experience helped me do better as a master's student.

    I think that your son is doing very well. I expect that you are proud of him!
    edited July 15
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  • PPofEngrDrPPofEngrDr 1236 replies10 threads Senior Member
    @DadTwoGirls thanks for sharing experience. Proud to acknowledge that he is far ahead of me at this stage of life. :blush:
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