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merlinyx

CS PhD: UW vs EPFL

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Hi friends! I'm having a hard time choosing between the two schools. The context is that I'm an international student, currently undergrad in the US.

UW and EPFL both have good locations (for me), and I'd be down to learn French for daily use, but in some other aspects I don't know which would be better.

In terms of funding, EPFL is a little better than UW (this included considerations like health insurance and tuition). There is a 1-year fellowship, and the lab is well funded. But they require students to teach every semester, although the PhD students there told me it's not very hard and basically you only teach tutorials, and grading is mostly done by undergrad TAs. UW requires 2 quarters of TA, but if advisor runs out of funding I'll have to TA. Right now I'm not so sure about the funding situation at UW, but I heard that my POI is new so they will have start-up funding. 

In terms of research fit, I like both schools' research. EPFL's POI is already very established and our meeting went pretty well too. I feel they have a clear framework of doing good research. The lab also has three postdocs (another is coming in the fall too) and currently 2 PhD students (one of them is graduating soon), and they publish regularly at top conferences in my area. I feel I will have a lot of freedom and get to learn from many experienced researchers. UW's POI is AP, hasn't had students yet and I would be in their first batch, so there is a risk if I choose them. Their publication records have been pretty strong. They are very excited about me, but one of the potential projects we talked about during the meeting seemed less interesting. There will be one postdoc coming into the group. 

In terms of career prospects, graduated students from EPFL's lab all had pretty good placement, but I'm not sure if being non-EU international will change things (I heard work permit in Switzerland is hard to get). UW apparently has a lot of advantages because so many companies are in the Seattle area. 

My goal is to go into academia/industry research positions if possible, but okay with software engineering jobs as well. I really appreciate your opinions on the two schools/experience with them! Thanks!

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