Chance me for top 50 EE programs

I’m an international student but I’m finishing my bachelor’s in EE in the states. From what I have heard, international students typically have to apply for around 10 school to ensure an admission. I have pinned down around 20 programs for now but still I simply cannot apply to 20 programs (or can I?). I have talked to other international students who got accepted into top programs and they suggest that I should feel good about applying to top 30 programs, picking out safe schools below 30 and aiming for higher ranking above 20. I’m still having a hard time picking schools. Location is another concern for me since I wish to take on some internships while I’m in grad school, therefore I prefer that major cities and tech areas are within driving distance on a daily basis.

Here are my stats:
GPA: Highline community college AS in engineering 3.21/UW Tacoma BS in EE 3.60
GRE: V156/Q166/3 (Taking it again soon hopefully to improve verbal and writing)
Research: Short-term 2-month online research project with MIT Nanomaterials group on new materials like graphene, MoS2, h-BN and other novel 2D materials. (Very limited experience. Only researched about current method by examining papers and learning from the phd and post doc grad students from the lab but will be getting a letter of recommendation from the mentor.)
Projects: WiFi human behavior recognition using SoC microcontroller. (Collaborating with a smart light switch company. Doesn’t really counted towards an intern since it is a senior project but it is funded by the company. Although project is still ongoing so I don’t think I will be getting a recommendation letter from them since we don’t have a finished product.)

I don’t really have any work experience or internships under my belt because of my status and my lazy ass procrastinating about finding internships thru the summer since we also have to apply for employment outside of campus via OPT and all those kinda crap.

I am leaning towards programs that offers decent human computer interface research like Duke and JHU and of course all the top 10s. The lower the rank, the weaker this particular kind of research becomes. I’ve been looking at basically all top 50 programs and I am just not sure how strong am I as an applicant. I’m pretty sure that’s the million dollar question everybody’s trying to ask.

For now I’ve picked out programs around top 40 as my safe schools such as UCI, NYU, BU, UCD, ASU, Penn State. That’s obviously a lot and you can tell how much I’m unsure of myself. And I’ve picked out my most desired schools such as JHU, Texas A&M, UCSB, UW Seattle, Duke, Rice. And pretty much every program in the top 20 are also ideal. I need help with narrowing the schools down to around 10 to 15 in terms of my chance, school location and also HCI research strength.
Thanks ?

@WendyYu97 - Welcome to the Forum. Are you interested in an MS or PhD? You should interpret my answers a bit differently depending on your degree choice. I will speak to a PhD program below.

The graduate programs will likely merge your transcripts to get an overall GPA. This will probably drop it to 3.45 or so. Your GRE scores are good but overall you are going to have a hard time getting full consideration at the most selective schools. The fact that you don’t have any meaningful research experience will make you less competitive as well once a program decides to review your full application. Remember at the highly selective programs, you will be competing with students who have very high GPA, GRE, and significant research experience. That being said, I suggest you choose one program you would really like to go to from the top 30 or so programs in the field (however that is measured) and focus the rest of your applications on programs that meet your requirements which are less selective than those most selective ones.

If you are interested in an MS then the admission bar will likely be lower and so if your ultimate goal is a PhD, starting with a lower selectivity MS program where you get a high GPA and significant research experience will give you a much better shot at the highly selective schools you are interested in for a PhD.

Thanks for replying! I should’ve put in that I’m aiming for MS right now like you said because my stats and background arent that impressive. What kind of programs are considered to have lower selectivity? Roughly speaking are those the ones with ranking lower than 30 or does it depend on their acceptance rate? I know it varies year to year depending on the application pool but I’d just like a general idea cause I’ve heard about international students got rejected from every school they apply to. I’d definitely prefer to have some “safe” schools in hand.

I’m not an expert in the HCI field and so I cannot recommend any specific programs. I suggest you speak to your faculty mentors at UW Tacoma to see what programs might fit your needs.