Computer Science Graduate school

Hello All!

Looking for some guidance and suggestions like I’ve done many times here at CC.

Son just completed first year of college at UCSD and leaning towards postgraduate program in computer science.

He will finish his undergraduate degree in 3 years total, so he’ll be starting his 2nd year in college but would be considered a Junior.

A few questions:

  • What is important for him this school year? Research with professor, internship, TA at school?
  • What is the best course of action to gain “letters of recommendation” from professors?
  • Should he take the GRE?
  • What are some CS graduate schools he should apply to? Preferably in California.

My son is an adult, and of course I trust and respect the decisions he makes but at the same time I ask these questions because I hope for more information and difference in opinion than from just him alone. I appreciate and value the vast knowledge and experience here.

For personal stats, he’s taken 14 courses in his 1st year which includes all his lower division major courses. He has about 8 “A+”, 5 “A” and 1 “A-“ course grades.

Thanks so much!

He needs to sit down with his departmental advisor and get clarity on these issues. The faculty in CS know who gets in where and who does not; the departmental advisor can lay out a granular plan for getting there.

At one of my kids schools, it was possible to do a Master’s degree in five years total (so the fourth year of undergrad served as the first year of graduate school) and the students who did this plan were awarded both degrees at commencement. My kid decided not to do that because he wanted to work to gain clarity on what he wanted to focus on in grad school.

YMMV but your son’s advisors can walk him through various scenarios.


Research and TA as an undergraduate will give a preview of what PhD programs will be like. They (especially research) will also be ways to get letters of recommendation for PhD program applications.

Internships at most employers will be more like a preview of the work at the bachelor’s degree level.

Beyond that, the student should consider what specialty area within the field is most interesting to focus on for doing research in a PhD program. A student not ready to decide may want to defer attending a PhD program and work for a few years while deciding.

What is his career goal?

A graduate degree may or may not help, depending on what he wants to do. Asking as a CS graduate degree holder myself.