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Stanford MSCS student here, ask your questions!

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Hi all,

I figured I'd try to come back here as GradCafe's forum was really helpful in my getting feedback and ideas for application (and it helped me also decide between the two schools I had gotten into). I'd rather not answer questions about "would I get in with this profile" because I think that's really up to an admissions counselor and it's really on a personal basis, but any other questions about Stanford's CS program I'd love to answer (from my limited knowledge so far). You can PM me if you'd like not to share personal information, or if you'd like to verify that I am indeed who I say I am.

Me: first year Master's in Human Computer Interaction

Undergrad at: Swarthmore College

Status: International

Living: off campus


CS147: Human Computer Interaction with Scott Klemmer

CS224W: Social and Information Network Analysis with Jure Leskovec

CS448B: Data Visualization with Jeff Heer


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  • 4 weeks later...

Some things I've condensed from queries so far:

I think the admissions committee is looking for experience, research experience (to a lesser degree) and passion for the topic that can be demonstrated somehow qualitatively (did you do a project that got some reception? a conference publication? where did you do your undergrad?)

I'm not aware of the average GRE and GPAs of students in the Stanford MSCS program, though I don't doubt it's pretty up there.

I did a few interesting research projects while at undergrad, and spent a year working in the field I wanted to pursue my MSCS (I was a UI Engineer). I guess it boils down to demonstrable passion (not just going there for the name) and demonstrable quality of work. I'd spend much less time fretting about grades and much more on what you think really is important to you about getting an Master's degree.

Here's a couple of good questions to ask:

a - If you knew it gave you a better idea of whether or not this is the school for you, would you visit it, even if it meant buying a $400 plane ticket? (That's what I did)

b - Would the fact that Stanford is a "big name school" be a big part of why you're applying? (Be honest - I actually seriously was vacillating between Georgia Tech and Stanford, both have really really good HCI programs)

c - Are you interested in getting a career out of Stanford or do you want to continue to do research, or do you want to get a Master's to find out?

d - Who are the most prominent professors in your field of interest? Have you read their papers? Their resumes?

Edited by truediarist
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  • 3 weeks later...

An exceedingly late reply here:

It probably isn't too far from the truth, in that they vehemently assure you that there is absolutely no guarantee for funding. That often turns away a lot of good potential candidates to Stanford, too, which can be a boon for others. That being said, I think if you're stubborn and persuasive enough and you have the right skills, you can get funding. I'm funding my own way through grad school after spending a year working, which means I had just enough saved for about 2.5 quarters with rent, not quite enough to get through an entire year. I was looking to be a little more comfortable financially, so I managed to snag an RA-ship for this upcoming quarter, though not in the CS department. That required a lot of work and some amount of convincing, but it's not impossible.

I do agree though, the CS department isn't exactly easy to get into, and it's hard to know what a professor or the department is looking for every year.

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  • 3 months later...

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