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CMU Master of Language Technologies vs. Georgetown Linguistics PhD (Comp Ling) vs. University of Washington Linguistics PhD (Comp Ling)

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Hi friends, I have most of my admissions results in, and I'd love to hear people's thoughts on my options! 

About me: I have an academic background in linguistics and computer science, and I've been working as a software engineer for a few years. I like what I've been doing, but I want to be able to focus more specifically on research in the domain of human language technologies (maybe in academia, probably in industry). I'm aiming to get a PhD in an area relating to Computational Linguistics.

Here are my options so far:

1. CMU: This is a research orientated masters program, and I think it has a very good reputation. It's part of CMU's SCS, which is very well ranked, and it has a large number of faculty working in HLT. I think this program is also more CS focused, and would prepare me to re-apply to CS PhDs. The main issue is that I was hoping to start a PhD, not a masters program (I applied to their PhD program, but was admitted to the masters), and that this program doesn't guarantee funding. They say people often find at least some funding from research projects once they come to campus, but you won't know anything until you've committed to the program and the semester has already started. This set up makes me somewhat uncomfortable.

2. Georgetown: This is a PhD program in Linguistics that offers a Computational Linguistics track. I think the department has a good reputation in Linguistics, but the department's strength is more Sociolinguistics rather than Computational Linguistics. There are only 2 main Comp Ling faculty, but I'm very interested in both of their research, and with the adjunct faculty, there is a good variety of Comp Ling course offerings (this is notable because it's a somewhat coursework heavy program for a PhD). The program offers 5yrs fully funded, which is also significant to me.

3. UW: This is also a PhD program in Linguistics that offers a Computational Linguistics track. I'm actually still waitlisted at UW, but I'm trying to consider it now. I think UW has a good reputation for Comp Ling research, but I think that generally refers to NLP work in the CS department, and my degree would be in the Linguistics department. UW also as a pretty well known Comp Ling professional masters program, which is actually offered by the Linguistics department, so there are a good amount of Comp Ling courses (again notable because this program requires a good amount of coursework as well). There are a few professors that I think would be good to work with, and about half the PhD students in the program are interested in Comp Ling. Not being admitted, I don't have as much info on this program, but I think they also try to ensure that their students have full funding for 5yrs.

There are also 2 CS PhD programs that I'm still waiting to hear back from, but it's so late that I'm assuming they're both rejections.

I'm also trying to think about whether I would be better off in a CS program or a Linguistics program as someone who wants to do research in Computational Linguistics. I think it would be happier in a Linguistics program, but it's hard to deny that a CS program would be better for career prospects.

I'm currently leaning towards Georgetown because it's a PhD program with full funding, and even though the Comp Ling section of the department is small, I like the curriculum, and I'm interested in the research going on there. 

So what would you choose in this situation?

I'd be interested in hearing any advice on my options, including general opinions on the schools, or additional factors that I should consider in my decision making process.


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  • 2 weeks later...


Glad to hear that you have so many good options. But considering everything else you've said, Georgetown I'd assess as the best of the lot. It is undoubtedly an excellent dept, and even though they have 2 comp linguists, I'd say it's more prudent to rely on the strength of the overall department while making assessments. I'm an international student, so my "additional factors" would be different from US students, so I can't speculate. Incidentally, Georgetown is going to be my own school for the PhD beginning Fall 2021 (my concentration is Applied Ling). I am very excited.

Anyway, all the best of luck on your decision, and do let me know if you ultimately choose GU!


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Thanks for your reply! At this point, I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with Georgetown. Even though the Comp Ling section is on the smaller side, I think the research is well aligned with my interests, so I think it will be a good fit.

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