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Linda Cai

Help! Princeton vs Stanford CS Master

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I have been very fortunate to be admitted to the master program from both Princeton and Stanford. I want to do a thesis master in theoretical computer science but haven't found a sub-subfield/problem for my master thesis yet. Fortunately both schools have very strong theoretical computer science department.

My main goal of the master is to develop my interest in theoretical computer science and improve my profile for phd application. I have enough money to pay for a master but am unwilling to blow through money from parents anymore. Weather and social life is not a factor in my decision. 

Here is my dilemma: 

Princeton:

1) Fully funded (32k) by teaching assistantship! (the matter of funding is not just about money for me, it's also about the peace of mind it offers so I can concentrate on research) 

2) More research oriented master (we only have to take 6 classes as Mse student, giving more time to research)

3) Very skewed towards computational complexity, theoretical machine learning, and game theory, potential research interest misalignment [1] (I definitely don't want to do computational complexity. Game theory problems and theoretical machine learning looks interesting but I have never done work in it/read much research paper about them. I have a busy semester and won't have time to do it now) 

Stanford:

1) No funding yet (although I *may* be able to find CAship and according to my stanford buddy it is not very hard) 

2) Hectic master courses requirement [2] (students have to do 45 units of course work)

3) More balanced theoretical CS department, has research in subfield I already know I like (aka graph theory and graph algorithms) 

 

[1] Disproportional amount of students at Princeton are in game theory and TML http://theory.cs.princeton.edu/PeoplePages/Students.html

[2] Complicated Stanford CS requirements https://cs.stanford.edu/degrees/mscs/programsheets/psguide1718.pdf vs Princeton https://www.cs.princeton.edu/grad/degrees

 

I'm feeling pretty conflicted. I was able to visit Princeton, but the tour was canceled due to snow storm and a gunman on Princeton campus. In reality I wasn't able to actually visit any of the 2 schools. Any experiences or input would be greatly appreciated!

 

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