Transfer to grad school in USA (Austin)

Hey there!

I’ve held this question for a while and am not quite sure if it’s asked in the right subforum, but it’s related to grad school transfer nevertheless. I’ve been looking into studying in the US since high school and since time flies by fast, I’m already starting my 3rd year of University in Sweden (final year of bachelors), still looking for a way to study in the US with respect to the situation I am in right now. Sadly, I’m only mostly interested in Austin in general and a perfect fit would of course be UT Austin as I’m in the computer science field. Although I’m quite sure my grades are too low for that as of now, I’m sitting at around 3.4 gpa and it’s just not enough.

It feels like I’m a little late now since there’s plenty of things to consider and to before applying, I’m 22 and I still want to take part of the student life in the US and meet new friends which is why I want to go there asap. So the sooner I go to the US, the better of course. I haven’t taken the GRE yet, I don’t even know which other options I have or what I should do and the admission process starts very early on in the year it seems which doesn’t really help with everything I’ve stated. Anyways my goal is to study in the US (Austin) with something related to what I wanna work with.

So to my questions:

  1. Should I choose something else other than UT Austin for a CS master? In that case it rather feels like I'm downgrading from what I'm studying at in Sweden, because it's one of the top universities there for CS. But what other good opportunities are there in Austin? Or should I rather wait and try to raise my grades and try to get a good GRE score? Which do they look more at when going for a masters? The issue with waiting would be that I dont really wanna take a break year to raise my grades in my current program, but would then have to continue my degree into masters parallel to trying to get better grades. Transferring in my last year of masters seems a little weird? Or could that be a possibility?
  2. I could possibly finish my whole master here in Sweden and maybe look to take 1-2 years of courses/programs similiar to Computer Science in the US after my MS in CS, maybe even something like entrepreneurship or similar just to have an easier chance to get admitted to UT Austin, but I'm afraid it would be waste of years, since I also wanna start working after my MS in CS. Because in the end another goal is to get those 1-2 years of working permit after a finished degree in the US. Or lets say, if I finish my masters in computer science in Sweden, can I instantly jump into another masters degree program that is similar to CS or something completely different? The reason why Id rather have a master program is that I dont want to start from the beginning again, but rather build upon what I've already learnt and immerse myself into a specific field, while also then having an easier time to get admitted to UT Austin, is that doable? And is it stupid to do?

Sorry if the questions or information is vague, but I wasn’t quite sure how to put it, I’m just trying to get any advice for how I should go about this and if there are any other options I don’t know of yet. Any help is appreciated!

Thanks in advance

There isn’t much student life happening at US colleges this fall. Not many schools are meeting in person and we have no way of knowing when that will change.

If you study in the US you’ll be expected to return home after graduation. If you’re in one of the top CS programs in Sweden and can do a master’s there, I’d complete their program.

I know, I’m not planning for this fall, rather next fall or the one after that since I still have one year of my bachelors in Sweden, and I’m pretty hopeful that it will have changed by then. It’s pretty much the same here though, for a university that is known to have a very active student life. But it’s rather the general feeling of meeting other american students and gain contacts that way, feels like it’s easier when you’re younger and the further you get into your studies/older you become the less likely it is that you find other people that are actually looking to find new “friends for life” as cliche that may sound, as they already have formed groups etc. It’s kind of crucial for me as I dont know anyone there. The student life is just an extra plus.

Hmm, as for how I’ve understood it these past 4 years that I’ve researched into universities in USA, don’t you get guaranteed 1 year of working visa at any company related to the specific program after finishing a bachelor in the US and 2 years of working visa after a masters? After that I know the’ll send you straight home if you haven’t settled with a company that are willing to kind of “buy you out”. I mean that’s kind of enough for me to be honest, I just really want to live in the USA for 2-4 years and feel like it’s easier to do now when I’m young.

Thanks for your answer.

Graduate school life is much different from undergrad life. The stereotypical college experience that UT-Austin represents for a lot of people doesn’t really happen for graduate students, not in the same way. Ironically, I think new college grads who go straight to work have the closest approximation to that (still young enough to want to, but old enough to have money to finance that lifestyle, and a lot more free time than a grad student).

There are much cheaper ways to make friends…and you might be disappointed. Graduate students don’t tend to be looking for new ‘friends for life,’ either. (Of course, I will say it kind of depends on what you go for - many professional programs, like MPA, MBA, even some MPH programs are structured for the students to network and make connections, because that’s part of the learning.)

If you have a computer science degree, why don’t you try to get a job in software development at a U.S. based company? I’d say that my first couple years at my large tech company did feel more akin to undergrad, because most people move here from somewhere else and are looking to make friends.

I think what you’re thinking of is the OPT program for F-1 students (, which allows eligible students to receive up to 12 months of temporary employment authorization in the U.S. In computer science, the OPT allowance is up to 3 years/36 months.

Yes exactly, the OPT program is what I’m refering to, it allows you to get 1-3 years of working time after a BS or MS in stem.

First off, thank you so much for your response!

Although I havent really heard about the UT Austin college experience, I just know that it will be there almost regardless of which uni you choose. I’m looking at UT Austin more because of its status when it comes to the Computer Science program and also especially that it’s in Austin which is the city I’m the most interested in. I guess youre right, uni life kind of ending at grad school is what I expected, but I guess it’s still dependant on what you make out of it? I guess it’s harder to get the student experience and attend parties when you dont know anyone there and most grad students arent looking for friends, but it has to be doable? Here at my uni, I know plenty of masters students still hanging out at parties and enjoying student life, just like they did during undergrad. Then again I know that grad school is pretty difficult and student life is something you cant really think about even. But it would be good to still have the option to actually socialize with students that are open to meet new freinds and feel how the student life is in the US.

That’s why I’m reconsidering my choice, maybe I should take another path within the US instead, I don’t know if it’s possible to do a bachelors in like 1-2 years, because then that wouldve been a choice too. As after I finnish my masters here, I might have some courses that I could take credits for in a new bachelors degree in the US. Then again I dont know how similar a bachelor in bussiness/economy or entrepeneurship would be compared to Computer science.

To be honest, I was more looking forward to being a student in US, that’s the main part why I want to go there. To actually have the possibility to get the real student experience and possibly meet friends. Just going there to work feels kind of useless when you dont know anyone, as it’s probably even harder than grad school when it comes to finding friends or “friends for life”, as people are older and probably just wanna go to work to get job done and then go home. That’s how I feel I’ll actually experience the US for real as a foreigner, to be able to get to know other people at the same age of me that are also looking to meet new people and that hasn’t really “settled” yet.

But yeah, I think I will have to reconsider my options and see if I could go another path, maybe start a new bachelors in the US after my masters here or something. Because I gotta admit it, I really want to get that real uni experience, maybe there’s a possibility to do a bachelors in a shorter amount of time in another field or something since I’ve already done most of the main math and stem courses.

Thanks once again.

First of all, “transfer” is the wrong word. You would be apply to graduate schools in the US, and most likely to master’s degree programs. This would be after completing a bachelor’s degree in Sweden.

It is possible to get a second master’s degree in the US after getting a master’s elsewhere. At some point a person might wonder what the value is of having more than one or two master’s degrees.

There are relatively few scholarships for master’s programs in the US. You are most likely to be full pay. On the other hand, there are some very good 1 year programs, so you might not be full pay for all that long.

There are a lot of universities in the US that are very good for computer science, and that have good master’s degree programs. Since I am from the northeast of the US, I work with multiple software engineers with a CS masters from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It has a very good master’s program. I am sure that people here can suggest quite a few other schools.

Many of the people that I know have master’s degrees, but admission seems to be rare enough that I am not sure what GPA is needed for acceptance. Some work experience after you get your bachelor’s before you apply for a master’s is not necessary, but is relatively common and can improve your chances of being accepted, particularly if you get very good references from an appropriate work experience.

Why UT Austin rather than U.Mass, Rutgers, UNH, or any one of 100 other schools? UT Austin is a very good school, but so are many other universities.

In my experience “the student experience” for a master’s degree student, or for a bachelor’s degree student who wants to get good grades, involves a lot of studying and not really all that much in the way of partying.

Do you have a budget in mind?

You could of course apply and see what happens. In the mean time try to get the best grades that you can in your current program. Then apply to jobs in Sweden unless you have a university experience that you can afford and that you want to take. After a year of two of working, you can reapply. At that point your senior year of grades will be complete and will matter.

I’m going to ask a question that may seem a little silly: Do you actually want to get a graduate degree? Or are you mostly interested in having a fun social life where you can party and meet some new friends, and going to graduate school just seems like the best way to get that?

I mean, no judgment here - I partied through college and much of graduate school, lol; I’ve commented on this forum before that I didn’t sleep much during my first two to three years of graduate school :stuck_out_tongue: I think it’s totally normal for a person in their early to mid 20s to want to capture some of that vibrancy and fun of life.

Actually, it’s so normal…that young adults do it regardless of whether they’re in school or not :wink: When I was in graduate school, most of my friends were master’s students from other programs, and we hung out and partied after they graduated, too. I also made some friends who were college graduates but were simply working full-time. Most of the people in the club on the weekends are not graduate students :smiley: Honestly, when I went to college in a large city (Atlanta), a lot of the people at the same parties I was at were recent college graduates with no current ties to uni. And after I moved to Seattle in my late 20s, people were still out partying here, too, in the bars and clubs and stuff.

If you want to make friends and socialize, graduate school isn’t necessarily a bad place to do that. But I do think that it is a bad reason, on its own, to go to graduate school - and that’s because life in general is a good place to meet friends and socialize. Remember that people of all ages work - some people go to work right after college (or after high school) and start working in their early 20s. Even people who have gotten master’s degrees will be in their mid-to-late 20s. There are lots of ways that a young person in a new environment can meet new friends - at work, at community events, at organizations, volunteering, etc. Thousands of young adults flock to Austin every year for work and many of them move there knowing no one.

I moved to Seattle five years ago knowing absolutely no one, and now I have some lifelong friends - people I’ve gone on multiple trips with, whose kids call me auntie and for whom I’m on the emergency pick-up list, etc… I met these people when I was 29ish. And looking forward a generation, my parents are in their late 50s and they have friends they met in their 30s and 40s and 50s who are still friends of theirs now.

I feel like the media has pushed this narrative that people make friends in their teen years and 20s and then never make any new friends again! because those are your friends for life! but oh god, it’s so not true. I’ve also heard people say that they’re afraid that people who are “older” (and by older, they usually mean like 25, lol) are already too “settled” and don’t want to meet new people, but that’s not true either! Being settled has nothing to do with whether you want friendship, a good time, etc. People with jobs, families and children like to meet new people and socialize, too!

You seem to be trying to go for a new degree based on what you want to do in your social life, but you can have the social life you want without being attached to a university. If you’ve gone straight from high school to college to your master’s program it may be hard for you to imagine how people have fun and make connections outside of a structured environment, but trust me, they do!