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How to Choose Between Two Phd Offers (Purdue and Iowa State)


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I have two PhD offers from Purdue and Iowa State and am primarily interested in the fields of statistical learning. What are the general guidelines that I should follow in order to decide which program is better?   I ask this as my area of interest is quite broad and am having trouble differentiating the two depratments..so some advice on how to go about it will be really helpful.

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Will you be visiting Iowa State next week? If so I'll see you there! Also, I'll be visiting Purdue next Tuesday so DM me if you want to hear about that!

I'm choosing between Iowa State, and Purdue, UIUC (and OSU) so it looks like we have a similar decision to make. I've found from visiting UIUC and OSU that visiting the department and getting a picture of how well I'd fit in means at least as much to me as rankings and reputation. So, I definitely recommend you visit both before deciding. In addition, you'll get a better idea of which faculty are currently doing research that is interesting to you. It may help to look at the department pages to get an idea of research areas for each professor, then look up their google scholar page to see if they have a track record of publishing in good journals (other people here can better speak to how to chose a research advisor). 

As far as what I personally have heard about each program, I've met some faculty members from Purdue who seem to do interesting research and who are generally friendly, but I've also met a couple folks who've recently dropped out of the program after quals or moved to another program. They do have a large group of researchers tackling computational stat problems, which probably fits in nicely with your interests. 

For Iowa State, I know two PhD's from there in my department who speak highly of the program, one who has had some success publishing papers in stat learning. I also know a couple professors from there who are involved in the stat education community. Their reputation is certainly better than Purdue, but I'm not sure if they can still claim to be on par with programs such as NC State (in the past they were considered pretty comparable). I would make sure to look at their stat learning faculty first, though!

Feel free to reply or DM if you want to discuss further! Tough decision for me as well. Here's a recent thread from me if you haven't seen: 


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I’m not familiar with those programs but I can give you some generic advice.  

Things I considered:

1. Prestige: very similar for Iowa State / Purdue so you could ignore this

2. Degree requirements: length, qualifying/prelim process, required courses

3. Research Areas of faculty

4. Happiness factors including funding, location, weather, etc. 


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  • 2 weeks later...

Rankings ISU 20 vs. Purdue 27 (from US News)

But to my acknowledge Purdue is very strong in Machine Learning and Deep Learning, far stronger than its ranking suggests. I think Purdue strictly dominates ISU in your field of interest and you should go there. 

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