Columbia GS vs USC Viterbi

Hello everyone,
I am an international student, and I was accepted to Columbia GS and USC Viterbi as a transfer student. My major is computer science, in the future, I want to pursue a master’s and Ph.D. degree. I know Columbia has a higher ranking, but it seems that GS does not have the same reputation as CC and SEAS. I want to know which one is better for me.

You get the same classes and professors at Columbia GS so why does “reputation” matter?

For a PhD (BTW, in the US, you’d apply to a fully-funded PhD program straight from undergrad and pick up the masters along the way), it would be all about your performance in undergrad, specifically research and professor recommendations. The “reputation “ of Columbia GS (because it is easier to get in to than the other undergraduate schools of Columbia) would only possibly matter if you are looking to work after undergrad, and then only among the snobbish (and even then, it’s not clear that USC is perceived to be better than Columbia GS, though many people won’t even notice that you are in GS).

Of greater concern to you may be that Columbia CS would have large classes. Though I imagine CS classes at USC these days are large and full as well, and Columbia would still send a lot more undergrads to PhD programs than (pre-professional) USC.
USC CS seems more collaborative with better school spirit but obviously Columbia has the better brand name (though that is something that really only matters if you are looking for a job as profs would care about what research you’ve published if you are going for a PhD regardless of school). Though both place very well employment-wise (USC to SV/Big N companies; Columbia there too but also financial companies in NYC).

Fit should matter a lot to you. Have you visited both? What do you feel? The environment would be pretty different between the 2 unis.

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At Columbia GS you can take all of the same courses as other Columbia undergraduates can. Many classes are mixed.

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Thank you for answering! I have been to NYC before, it really attracted me, and I think L.A. is a very nice place too! It seems easier to find a IT-related job in California (I plan to earn a higher degree but I noticed that Master‘s Programs in many universities prefer students who have work experience, so I may work for one or two years after my graduation) In this case, do you think USC has some advantages for my plan?

They would both be good for getting you a job straight out of undergrad if you have proper work authorization (tougher if you aren’t an American citizen or permanent resident) but I think you’re confused.

A lot of CS masters programs in the US are terminal degrees. They often are for Internationals coming to the US or folks who attended no-name undergraduate programs or maybe weren’t CS majors during undergrad. I doubt many require work experience but I can see why they would like work experience in Internationals because that would help their employment prospects and thus the placement record of the masters programs.

If you want to work, whether Columbia or USC (assuming all else is equal) would depend on what coast you would prefer to work (though Columbia would get you to the West Coast while it would be tougher to go from USC to the East Coast).

But if you are aiming to get a PhD, none of that stuff really matters. You would try to get in to a funded PhD program straight out of undergrad and what would matter most is research and what papers you publish. You may or may not work; may or may not get a masters, but what matters is research and what papers you publish.

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So in short, I’m confused because you seem confused. What is your ultimate goal? Why do you say you want a CS PhD?

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Thank you! I get the picture.

A PhD degree is my dream and it is my family’s expectation too.

Honestly, that’s a poor reason to devote 6 years of your life (in a fashion that many who went through the process wouldn’t recommend) to getting a PhD.

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Some rankings have Columbia CS ranked higher, while others have USC CS ranked higher. I have a CS degree and think CS rankings for undergrad are pretty useless. Professionally, it won’t matter which of these schools you go to. If one school offers a specialty track or more courses you’re interested in, go there. Otherwise, pick the one you feel most comfortable at.

I wouldn’t worry about a PhD at first. Get your Bachelor’s then work three or four years. Only then should you make a decision about going further educationally. There’s not as much value in getting a PhD in CS as there is in other fields. The only exception is if you want to teach.

And they are cash cows!

There are essentially two types of MS degrees. Those that are intended to be terminal as @PurpleTitan referred to and those awarded to PhD candidates who for whatever reason wash out.

If you intend to get a PhD, which, as had been previously mentioned, should not be a foregone conclusion, start in a funded PhD program and skip the MS. It’s a waste of time and money.

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My Master’s from USC was a terminal degree. The school made a nice chunk of change from my employer, who was paying for it. Tuition for one USC graduate level class cost more than a year of tuition where I went to undergrad. There actually was a route to a PhD with a terminal Master’s, although I never had any interest so can’t say what the route was. Maybe you had to take another class or two in research methods.

If you consider yourself non traditional, go to GS. But if you consider yourself traditional, go to USC.
Also, Columbia has CS program in all 3 departments (CC,GS,SEAS) vice versa USC offers CS program only at Viterbi.

I don’t think that’s a great way to make a decision. Reason being, yes, GS is for suppose to be for nontraditional students, but in practice, GS, SEAS, and CC students all take the same classes with the same profs at Columbia so whether the OP considers himself “nontraditional” or not doesn’t actually make a practical difference.

There may not actually be anything wrong with that, BTW. Some of those cash cow CS masters programs may still give a hefty boost to earnings/job prospects.

You could argue about whether it’s due to the program or because they take in very strong candidates (so not because of the value-added of the program), but grads of both the Stanford and UCSD terminal CS masters programs earn about as much as grads from top MBA programs a couple of years out.

GS is designed for non traditionals, that is, they can take a gap year or attend the school part time. Don’t know why you’re leaning towards the “same classes” thing, I never mentioned that. I mentioned GS as a non traditional focused school because GS gives you much more flexibility than CC or SEAS. Fair enough?

And I’m saying that that is a poor way to look at it because regardless of who/what GS was designed for, in practice, GS/CC/SEAS students all take the same classes together, so what is the practical difference?

Where is the added flexibility?

Were you offered housing as a transfer at either university? In order to integrate more quickly into the university’s culture and fabric, housing would be a big point. If housing isn’t provided, does the office of International students help you find roommates?
Academically, both would be excellent, so you have to look at the other factors.

Well, you are keep getting off the track.
First, based on your opinion, you’re basically disagreeing with Columbia GS agenda. If you go back to the first post that I’ve written, I mentioned GS as just non-traditional focus school. NEVER mentioned abt same classes. And you are keep bringing up the same classes thing over and over. Yes, they take same classes and “also” students can take a gap year quite a lot and attend it part time. I think these are huge benefits that are typically not offered to traditional students.
In this context, you said “that is a poor way to look at it.” What exactly is a poor way r u talking about? And after you said that I have a poor way of looking, you keep sayin abt “same classes” I believe this is the poor way of lookin.
Second, you look like you like the word “practical” a lot businessman. You said what is the practical difference, I never mentioned abt practical difference. You brought it up. I want to ask you actually, what is the practical difference?
Third, where is the added flexibility? Go check on GS website.

Honestly, have you even applied to GS? Cause I have. I’m international veteran and I consider myself nontraditional as well. And I have high respect to other veterans and nontraditional students. It’s hard to come back to school and compete with younger students. And I know GS program thoroughly.
And you’re saying I have a poor point of view on GS?