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Which graduate school should I aim for?



Hi guys. I want to get into a graduate school in 2024. About 9 months left until the next admission.

I have to decide so-called a range of universities, but it's hard for me since I've never seen a case like me.

Could you help me please? Below is my information.


Research area : computational/cognitive neuroscience, Neuro inspired AI.

Education :

Master's Top 10 university in South Korea (Mar. 2021 - Feb. 2023 exp.), GPA 4.47/4.5, M.Artificial Intelligence, major in cognitive science

Undergraduate : University of Toronto (Sep. 2014 - Nov. 2020), GPA 1.98/4.0, B.Sc (Honours), double major in neuroscience and psychology, minor in computer science

Publication :

One paper accepted in a journal with a journal with Impact Factor 10 (this will be published before the ph.d admission)

One more paper will be accepted in a journal with Impact Factor 5-10 (expected, before the ph.d admission)

GRE : 166 verbal, 170 Quant, 4.5 writing 


I really want to get into Program in Neural Computation in Carnegie Mellon University, but uh... that would be my dream.

Which grad school should I set in a safety range? and which grad school will I be able to challenge? I don't care about nations but the North America is preferred.


Thanks in advance!


Edited by juhng62
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1 hour ago, Dr_Hugh_ said:

It seems that you are in a good position to apply to Carnegie Mellon. You will have a graduate degree in hand that is connected to the field by the time you enter the program, your quant score is good, you have a solid GPA, AND publications, which is excellent.  As far as school selection is concerned, it is important to pick programs where there is one or two faculty members connected to your area of interest. To come up with a preliminary list of programs to consider, I suggest identifying researchers in your field who work on your topic of choice and finding out where they work. This will help you build a list of programs to investigate before coming up with your final list. Keep in mind that what really matters at the PhD level is less the name or reputation of the school than the reputation and name of the researcher(s) you will be working with. It is better to work with a top researcher at a state school than with a mediocre one at an Ivy League.

Hope this helps!

I appreciate your answer, thanks! Actually one of the researchers I want to work with is in CMU. But the issue is that my undergraduate GPA is terrible and apparently Master's GPA doesn't matter since it is often inflated. What do you think about this?

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8 hours ago, Dr_Hugh_ said:

Yes, your undergraduate GPA is not ideal but admissions committees pay attention to your most recent degree. All they want to know is that you will have the skills to be successful in graduate school, which you clearly demonstrated in your master's. I also see that you did really well in the quant portion of your GRE test, which will also make up for your low undergrad GPA. If you have a solid recommendation from your thesis advisor and a really strong application, you have very good chances. That being said, I would still apply to 5-6 schools to make sure you don't put all your eggs in the same basket.

I got what you are saying. Thanks, really!

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Do you want to apply in 2022 for PhD starting in 2023 fall? Sort of confused by your first line.


I got into CMU neuroscience PhD and am likely to attend there starting this fall. Although it might be too early for me to give advice to anyone yet, I am happy to answer any questions regarding program fit. One thing I found helpful for CMU especially is that my past research aligned extremely well with their departmental interests. It helps to have a solid understanding of the work you're doing now, and to do work that is broad in scope. To make sure that your undergrad GPA is not the deciding factor for your application, make sure to contact multiple professors proactively around summer time. All the best

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