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Graduate school

Considering going to graduate school to get a Masters in Computer Science. What schools do you folks recommend?

We've all seen US News & World Report's rankings, where MIT, Bekerely, CMU, and Stanford invariably top the list. Can you corroborate or debunk these claims? Or can you recommend other less well-known schools that have strong programs?

Or do you think CS graduate school is just a waste of time anyway and, gosh darnit, get out there and start getting some real experience?

Grad Wannabe
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

grad school in CS is a waste of time, but aside from getting a paycheck, so is is most work as a programmer, so just pick the one you think you'd like best. 

i have had a career bouncing between consulting in high pressure / high pay corporate gigs and no pressure / not-so-bad pay research-lab gigs. there are a lot of eternal grad student types at the research labs and i think that probably 70% of people in full time grad school are kind of just there because they haven't thought of anything better to do.

thus, my unsolicited advice is that it is probably good to examine your goals before enrolling in a grad program. "getting a master's degree" in itself is not a good goal. getting a master's degree because you feel like you need to learn more about computer vision, or DSP, or something, because you want to work on biometrics hardware instead of backoffice apps, is a better goal.

grads
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

What you should really do first is decide what type of graduate work interests you. Are you interested in digital signal processing, medical imaging, natural language processing, compiler development, etc., etc., etc.

Next, after you've picked one (or two) areas of possible specialization, start searching with Google for information about your chosen specialization. Start with general queries (like "Natural Language Processing") and get more specific (like "generative semantic lexicon"). As you get more specific, you should start finding some interesting research being published. Read some of the articles. People often publish their theses and dissertations (or at least the abstracts) on their university-provided web space.

When you find research that is interesting to you, make note of the person who wrote the research, and start doing searches for other articles published by the same person. Since academics tend to work together on publishing these papers, you'll find other professors and grad students at the same institutions.

You'll probably also notice that the people publishing these papers are either faculty, grad students, or alumni of schools with computer science grad programs. If you like the research being published, get in contact with the author of the research (especially if the person is a current grad student) and ask that person questions about the program.

Even the best CS schools have their strengths and weaknesses. Some departments are better at computer vision research, while other schools excel at developing new 3d raytracing algorithms.

Just because US News & World Report says that Carnegie Mellon is a great CS school may mean nothing to you if your interests don't match up with CM's core strengths.

When you're in grad school, you're not really interacting with the school itself so much as you're interacting with the professors. And finding great professors whose work interests you is the best way of finding the best grad school _for your interests_.

Benji Smith
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

"grad school in CS is a waste of time, but aside from getting a paycheck, so is most work as a programmer, so just pick the one you think you'd like best."

Ha!  Best line I've seen here yet.

My answer - you'll have to tell us why you want to go before we'll enable you in the endeavor.

Bob

Robert Anderson
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

most top mba schools will ask two key themes when you apply.

why an mba?
why now?

tapiwa
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

tapiwa wrote:

"most top mba schools will ask two key themes when you apply.

why an mba?
why now?"

Also, "why our school?".

And just like in job interviews, you should never tell the truth.  Instead, say what you think you need to say in order to get accepted.  Sure, you know you're lying, and the interviewer knows you're lying -- but everyone is playing by the rules, and we're all happy for it.

J. D. Trollinger
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

"grad school in CS is a waste of time, but aside from getting a paycheck, so is is most work as a programmer, so just pick the one you think you'd like best.  "

keep comming back to this one!

Prakash S
Wednesday, November 13, 2002

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