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How does my profile look?


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Hi I'm a CS undergrad in Korea

planning to apply for a phD in the US.

I have a somewhat lopsided profile, so I was hoping

someone could help me figure out what kind of chances I have =)

Thanks to everyone in advance!!

So, here goes.


Field of interest: Distributed embedded systems.

School: SNU, Korea (Best one in Korea ^^)

Undergrad in Computer Science

GPA: 3.6/4.3(3.5x/4.0)

Major GPA: 3.7/4.3(3.6x/4.0)

(Funny thing is, I did fairly well in areas of interest, embedded/parallel systems and such(most are A+s)

but I tend to do poorly in areas like PL...)

GRE: V:760/Q:800/A:4.5



2nd and 3rd author in a lesser-known international conference

1st author in a domestic conference.

Translated 3 security-related books into Korean

I have some more research experience that didn't result in a paper... ;(

Work experience:

Led a team during a single-semester project with Samsung

(predicting heart disease from ECG data).

2 years as leader of security team at a big computer game company.


I have 3 letters from Korean professors I did research with.

I think they're pretty good^^


I have no idea what level of schools will be realistic for me...

although I'm also going to try my luck at some of the top ones as well

(you never know^^; maybe my heartfelt SOP will impress someone)

So... any kind of feedback, including criticism will be valued greatly.

Thanks again to everyone in advance!

Edited by aradia
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Your GPA is fine. Your wording suggests that you don't think it is, but it is.

I see no reason that you shouldn't apply to top schools with this. You don't want to apply ONLY to top schools, of course, but you should be reasonably competitive.

For an explanation of how PhD admissions work in top US computer science departments, I recommend this article by Prof. Harchol-Balter of Carnegie Mellon University, who has been involved in PhD admissions at CMU, MIT, and UC Berkeley (all of which are top-10 CS programs) over the course of her career.


The article is a great resource. Section 3, in particular, explains how admissions committees at the top programs value different aspects of your profile.

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Thank you for your reply starmaker =)

It's just that everyone I've seen going abroad had such perfect profiles...

(And my professor tells me scary tales of under qualified students-_-)

I don't want to end up aiming too much out of my league,

and I have very little idea of what league that might be ^^;

The document you linked mentions that I should pick some 'safe' schools as well,

I suppose I should start trying to figure out what that range might be.

Thanks again for your reply!

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The document you linked mentions that I should pick some 'safe' schools as well,

I suppose I should start trying to figure out what that range might be.

To get a sense of how competitive different schools are, one thing you should look at is their acceptance rate. The website Petersons.com provides this info for all the grad programs that are willing to give them the numbers. Since you're a non-native English speaker, you should also look at TOEFL requirements for different programs.

Some program websites may provide links to grad students' websites, and some of those students will have their CVs on their websites. By checking dates and/or looking at the CVs of more junior grad students, you can get some idea of what their qualifications were when they entered.

If your school has alumni who are in CS/CE PhD programs abroad, you could contact those alumni, and ask them where they applied and where they got in.

I would say, start by looking for middle- and lower-ranked programs that happen to have faculty who are strong in your area.

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