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UMich Ann Arbor or Georgia Tech - MSCS unfunded


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My field of study would be Intelligent systems / AI.

So I have admits from both UMich and Georgia Tech for MS in CS, and I'm not sure which to pick. I don't have funding, so I'm going to try as hard as I can for an RA/TA position. I heard its very difficult but more possible in UMich because of smaller class size, than in GaTech. Being an international student, the fees are exorbitant for me.

GaTech has asked me to confirm by the 25th, so I need to figure this out, and I'm really confused. I would rather live in Ann Arbor (I've heard its beautiful but cold), and have also heard that the Atlanta area isn't the safest. However, my parents believe that GTech is higher ranked than UMich, and a better choice to pick.

I need more information before I can make an informed decision on this. I've been told both are great schools, whether I want a job or want them as a stepping stone to a PhD, but more concrete

Could you guys give me some advice on which to pick? Especially in terms of which uni is better ranked, which is better in my specific field, which has better opportunities for securing an RA/TA'ship....

Any relevant information really would help.

Or any information actually.

Thanks a lot!

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Ann Arbor really isn't that cold (comparatively speaking...I live about 3 hours north of it.) Not sure which one is better in your field, but I imagine U of M's name recognition is higher in general. It is a VERY good school for graduate programs as the alumni base is very large and well-connected. If you have questions about living in Ann Arbor or what it's like feel free to message me. I lived there for a summer and have always lived in Michigan.

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I'd give Georgia Tech CS the edge -- and it's so ranked by US News and World Report -- but what you need to do now is look at the web pages for both AI departments, and at some of he professors' papers, and see who is working on ideas that seem the most exciting to you. That's what's really going to make the difference not only for your academic experience, but for your eventual job prospects.

TA positions are tough to come by at GaTech, but you may be able to pick up some work as a coder. If you want a stepping stone to a PhD, GaTech only accepts their current masters students into the PhD program if they can fund them, and that doesn't depend just on academic record but if there's funding for the particular program you're applying to. (eg, a lesser qualified person may jump over a more academically qualified person because s/he has a skill set needed for an already-funded project.) Michigan may work the same way; I don't know. However, if you want to go straight to work, GaTech CS masters grads are heavily recruited and well-placed.

Atlanta is a big city, and there are parts of it that are rough, but most of it's safe. You would certainly be safe on campus. Both Ann Arbor and Atlanta are great cities, with an excellent quality of life -- they're both on my list of favorite places (Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, the Varsity in Atlanta -- how to chose?!) Ann Arbor is a college town straight through, while Atlanta -- even though it has three large universities, and more colleges -- has a more diffuse sense of community. You're far less likely to bump into a professor at the grocery store or Target. Winter temps in Ann Arbor are often in the 20s, dipping down to below 0, while summers in Atlanta sees temps in the 80s and even 90s. Atlanta has Hartfield-Jackson International Airport, the world's busiest, and an Amtrak stops twice daily on its run between New York City and New Orleans. The closest airport to Ann Arbor is Detroit, and the Amtrak train drops you in East Lansing where you finish your journey by Amtrak bus (no kidding!)

You hav two terrific choices. Congratulations!

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Hey, thanks a lot for your replies!

I saw in the us news rankings that GaTech is slightly higher than UMich, but I've been told that UMich is more selective or that the class size is smaller. I don't know how true that is though, I've been trying to ask UMich grad students about it. Also the QR world rankings place UMich higher than GaTech.

I know rankings aren't the be all and end all, and I've been told that I can't go wrong with both these schools. But its just confusing right now.

Also by stepping stone to PhD, I didn't mean I would necessarily want it where I did my Masters, I meant that it's a university that has good standing in terms of research so that my application for a PhD would carry weight.

I definitely want to work for some time and not go for a PhD straight, and although people told me that Atlanta would be a better place for finding jobs, I heard that all major CS companies regard both unis in high regard, so jobs won't be a problem....

So advice is always helpful. I'll give cookies! :)

Thank you.

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If there's only a "slight edge" with the rankings...I wouldn't worry about it too much. In the high rankings, a lot of times it's more nuanced than anything. If you think you have a better chance at getting a TA/RA position at Michigan, I'd follow the money. In the end, both schools are going to give you really great degrees. Also, look at the cost of living in both areas. Atlanta is a bigger city, so it might be more expensive than Ann Arbor. Also, I know from experience that you can live in Ypsilanti which is a 10-20 minute drive to U of M for significantly less money.

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