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Choosing a University!

This by far is one of the most important and time-consuming processes a student has to encounter. He or she has to consider several actors before making this single most important decision.

They have to consider factors such as:

Most of these factors are important because a lot of international students look for funding in terms of a Research, Teaching and Graduate assistantships. There are thousands of universities located all around the United States each have their unique requirements and conditions for admissions.

You will have to pick out the university that best suits your abilities and interests.

How to choose a University ?- Mor Harchol-Balter, CS Prof in CMU

  • i. Count the faculty in your chosen area of research. Now subtract all the ones who are not actually present (their name appears on the web page, but theyíre actually on leave). The number left are the resources you will have to help you with your thesis research. Since half of all people end up changing their research area, itís a good idea to repeat this count for at least two more areas that you might be interested in going into.
  • ii. Count the number of faculty whose research you feel really excited about. Now subtract off the number who are not taking on students. Whatís left is the number of faculty whom you might be choosing from when you look for an advisor.
  • iii. Try to assess the atmosphere within the department. Is the atmosphere competitive or collaborative? Do people tend to mix areas (e.g., research combines systems and theory) or stick to one area. A lot of hints can be gleaned by looking at the seating arrangements: Are areas separated by floor, or mixed up? Are the students within an office all working in the same area, or are students mixed up? Are the faculty offices separated in floors from the student offices, or are faculty offices side-by-side with student offices.
  • iv. How are graduate students treated within your area? Perhaps the most important question here is: How freqently do the grad students in your area meet with their advisors? Talk with students of professors with whom you are considering working with. What do they work on? Are they excited by their research? Is their advisor helpful? Do they like the other students? Graduate students will reveal all!
  • v. How are graduate students treated by the department overall? What is the equipment and office space given to students? Does the department have a method for reviewing grad students and sending them progress reports every semester (this is very important to get you through your Ph.D.). What is the fraction of students who come in wanting a Ph.D. and actually leave with a Ph.D., (not an M.S.)?
  • vi. How does funding work within the department? Are you restricted to choosing an advisor who has funding? What happens if that advisor loses her funding? Will you have to then become a teaching assistant?
  • vii. What are the hurdles associated with completing the Ph.D. degree? What are the course requirements? What exams will you have to pass? What are the teaching requirements?
  • viii. Pay some attention to what is outside the department. For example the Department of Computer Science at CMU (which consists of about 66 faculty) is contained within the School of Computer Science (which consists of over 200 faculty). The School of Computer Science is made up of about 6 individual departments including the Computer Science department, the Robotics Institute, the Language Technology Institute, the Human Computer Interaction Institute, etc.
  • ix. Consider the overall ranking of department. This is important only because it determines the average quality of your peers (the other graduate students). Your peers are the people who will teach you the most in graduate school.
  • x. Lastly, keep in mind the cost of living. At almost every graduate school, you can expect a stipend of around $1700 per month. In some cities, you will live like a king off of this. In others you will be live like a churchmouse. This may not bother you at first, but it can grow old after 6 years.
  • There are two types of graduate schools in the US,public and private schools. Public schools typically get a lot of funding/aid from the federal sources. They are built to help the local communities and hence most of them have lower tuition fee than private schools. UC Berkely is a public institution and Stanford is a private one.
    So lots of students do go to public schools and hence the competition is fierce amongst students.

    Irrespective of the school types,tuition in the graduate school level is high for all students,even more so for international students.

    For all schools there are two ways to calculate tuition fees, one of them being in-state-tuition and the other being out-of-state tuition fees. International students mostly end up paying out-of-state tuition which is always higher than in-state tuition.

    So getting financial aid is very helpful for all students be it local or international students.

    We in desigrad.com have meticulously labeld each of our schools public or private. We have also tried our best to show you the approximate out-of-state tuition fee for graduate schools.

    Example of a snap shot of our database below:


    graduate_school_snap_shot (62K)

    • The GRE general exam is also taken up by most of the international student who would like to pursue a masters or PhD degree in Engineering or similar related fields of science. Some graduate schools in the US do not require this score. Most of the reputed graduate schools in the US do see this score as a measure of the international students ability into the program. This GRE,TOEFL score also plays a crucial roll in your eligibility to get financial assistance.

    • We have meticulously collected the minimum GRE & TOEFL scores required by most of the schools for their admission process. However just looking at this minimum scores does not gaurantee you an admisson, so we have developed a few additional ways in analyzing the live statistics of fellow applicants shown below to further enhance your chances
    • Most of the graduate school have a minimum requirement in your GRE scores,however by meeting these requirements you are not guaranteed an admission into the graduate school. The admission depends on lots of other requirements such as your academics,recommendation letters,SOP,eligibility of funds in the dept or by the profs, international students applying for that term,etc.

    • On signing into our website, you will be able to access the individual GRE & TOEFL requirements of the graduate schools. You will also be able to view the international students\ with simillar GRE & TOEFL profiles.

    • graduate school GRE requirement (33K)

    • A lot of stress should be given to the funding scenario. As you know by know that graduate school education is not cheap. We all need to have some kind of funding or the other. Our website does collect a lot of indiviual information regarding research capability for any given university.

    • By clicking on each university you can look at the relative funding expenditure each department in that university. Especially when you look for any school just beacuse its highly ranked overall does not mean it has good funds in your particular major.
    • On signing into our website, you will be able to access all the funding information of the graduate schools.

      graduate_school_financial_aid (77K)

      graduate_school_aid (84K)