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Do I have a shot? [ Stanford and Berkley MS ]


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Hello and thanks in advance for your advice,

I have recently started putting a lot of thought into going to grad school. I am on track to graduate from North Dakota State University in Spring 2011. I transfered to NDSU from a small private liberal arts school three semesters ago with a 3.23 GPA. My GPA essentially started over at NDSU and I expect to graduate from here with roughly a 3.8+.

My major is management information systems (MIS) but I've learned to love the nitty gritty of computers and am interested in getting a MS in computer science. I'll have about two years of work at Microsoft under my belt by the time I graduate. The work as been some programming, database administration, and sharepoint/SQL deployment. I'm also president of the MIS Club on campus and actively volunteer and am starting my own non-profit to help charities. I'm pretty compitent with a number of languages (VB.net, C#, Java, PHP, VBA, SQL) but lack some of the fundamentals I would have gotten with a CS major such as algorithm techniques etc.

I'm typically an above average test taker but I don't expect to be able to hit 90th percentile on the GRE or the CS subject GRE.

The question is, do I have a shot at the Berkley or Stanford CS masters program? If not, any other recommendations. I've got two standing job offers right now for when I graduate, so I likely wouldn't walk away from them unless I got into an upper tier school.

Thanks

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I don't understand how your GPA started over when you transferred. Your grades should be taken into account even if you transferred and you will need to submit transcripts from all schools when you apply.

Stanford

Q: Do you have to be a Computer Science undergraduate major to apply?

No, it is not required that a student have majored in CS but it is important that you have strong quantitative and analytical skills.

http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/Gradadm/Prerequisites.htm

It is pretty tough to say whether you will get in or not, but I'm leaning towards a no for both schools. It certainly doesn't hurt to try though. Maybe you should consult your Professors concerning school suggestions.

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Hello and thanks in advance for your advice,

I have recently started putting a lot of thought into going to grad school. I am on track to graduate from North Dakota State University in Spring 2011. I transfered to NDSU from a small private liberal arts school three semesters ago with a 3.23 GPA. My GPA essentially started over at NDSU and I expect to graduate from here with roughly a 3.8+.

My major is management information systems (MIS) but I've learned to love the nitty gritty of computers and am interested in getting a MS in computer science. I'll have about two years of work at Microsoft under my belt by the time I graduate. The work as been some programming, database administration, and sharepoint/SQL deployment. I'm also president of the MIS Club on campus and actively volunteer and am starting my own non-profit to help charities. I'm pretty compitent with a number of languages (VB.net, C#, Java, PHP, VBA, SQL) but lack some of the fundamentals I would have gotten with a CS major such as algorithm techniques etc.

I'm typically an above average test taker but I don't expect to be able to hit 90th percentile on the GRE or the CS subject GRE.

The question is, do I have a shot at the Berkley or Stanford CS masters program? If not, any other recommendations. I've got two standing job offers right now for when I graduate, so I likely wouldn't walk away from them unless I got into an upper tier school.

Thanks

Your chance of getting in is 0.

There is no way you can hide your 3.23 GPA from the "small liberal art" school. Cal and Stanford admission office will ask both transcripts from both schools. So there is no way you can hide the 3.23. And with 3.23 GPA, your chance is basically ZERO.

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While your GPA from the last two years should be most heavily considered, your overall GPA will be seen as an average of your work at both schools you attended. (You should also calculate your major GPA, and see how that looks.) In any writing you do, you may want to emphasize your personal improvements at your new school, and how they'll help you in grad school.

I hope your lower division institution is not more prestigious than the school you transferred to? That would not bode well. I believe schools can be understanding if you have a lower 3.x GPA from a particularly challenging school, but they won't like it if it looks like you left to earn a better GPA elsewhere instead of trying to improve where you were. If I were you, I'd write some other reason for transferring -- did you have any extenuating circumstances to work through, special opportunities at your new school, or better major options?

If I were you, I'd work on those test scores. If you did really well on the GRE, that would give you a stronger chance.

Also, if there's any way you can start learning some of those CS fundamentals you're missing now, so you can mention your effort in your applications, that could help show your dedication and potential for admissions, too.

Edited by Jae B.
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  • 1 month later...

As someone else said beef up your CS fundamentals, that is take those classes before you graduate in data structures/algorithms, computer architecture, etc and get some C/C++ coding classes as Java, C#, PhP, MySQL, etc are not the hardcore coding languages that the top-ranked CS programs expect to see. Unfortunately MIS is really a soft technical degree and people who get those degrees in undergrad don't really fare well in the admissions/review process for MSCS programs unless they've beefed up their hard technical skills by taking other, harder, more technical classes. If your 3.23 at your small liberal arts school was in liberal arts classes it may not have as much weight. For these technical programs they don't really care if you got a C or B in history, french, etc but if you got your lower grades in math and technical classes you are going to have a problem. So you really need to beef up your undergrad classes and take several hard core CS classes and get good grades in them and get a decent Q score in the GRE. You probably should shoot for 70-90 percentile because you are already starting with deficiencies in your app and the top tier programs will expect near perfect Q scores since most people applying will have them. I think it's going to be hard for you to get into either of these programs not necessarily because of your GPA but because your undergrad program is on the soft side and that coupled with the lower GPA will make your application less competitive.

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  • 1 month later...

Stanford student here. First off, I wouldn't listen to naysayers. My approach is that people who say "no you can't" are people who want to take your place.

On to the topic - have you looked at Stanford's MS&E program? That may be a little more tailored to your needs and background. There's plenty of CS involved too.

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