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Admission to PhD with no prior research experience?


whippoorwill5

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Dear friends,

I have a masters in CS from a pvt US uni. My GPA is good but I took the courseware route, did not write a thesis. Is it necessary to complete research a bit before applying to top schools? Also GRE is a problem, I took it decades ago. Please advise.

P.S. I live in India.

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It is possible to get into a school without research experience, however it is difficult.

 

The idea is that when professors look at your application, they are looking for research potential. One of the best indicators of research potential is research experience. Without research experience, they are taking a large and expensive gamble on an admission, and you'd really have to convince them in other ways that you are cut out for research and know what you are getting into in a research program.

 

My best advice would be that its not too late to get research experience. Professors in general like to help people that are interested in graduate school, so if you reach out to people in your area in your field and ask them if you can volunteer part time for them, it will give you a huge boost.

 

As far as the GRE goes, its only valid for 5 years, so you'll have to retake it. 

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Thanks Ohmysocks. The problem is that in my country the only major tech schools, the profs there are so snooty and uptight and they dont entertain anyone outside their school generally, who is willing to do research for them, because they have a lot of bright students there. It is indeed a dilemma. I dont mind retaking the GRE, I dont feel it is that tough to crack.

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Top prof will prefer research exposure. If you are applying to top institutes then it is likely that your competitors will have good amount of research exposure.

@sudarshan (last post) - prof have already too much work to attend along with their personal stuff. They can still agree to work with other guys if those guys have done something substantial to attract prof's attention. I think you should try some research area in which you can start alone. Once you fix and start working on a particular  problem, try discussing it with the authors of papers which address that problem. Personally I think that it would be gr8 if one of the author is a grad student. Then once you do all hard work say 4-8 months, either you will be having some results or almost towards it. If nothing happens, then write a survey paper and if relevant then your ideas which failed, e.g. This problem does not have a greedy solution or the problem is at least in EXP. At the end of all this, you have research exposure. Upload your survey paper at arxiv and link it in your cv/resume.

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Thanks for your enlightening post, cstheory. I wrote to a professor in IIT Delhi and he didn't feel inclined to work with me. I have written to others.

 

I have a classmate who is a professor in Norway in applied Mathematics. He is calling me there to do PhD. But I'd rather spend a year trying to accumulate adequate research experience and then apply to top schools in US/UK. Do you think it would be worthwhile if I do some research with him? Distance between us is a major constraint.

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I would have preferred doing research with your friend if I have no other collaborators to work with. If you choose to stay in India and work with him then it's going to be difficult. However I have seen some people collaborating over video chats and email discussions. It would be better if you could stay with him at least for some initial period (could be internship).

Another option - you can consider joining PhD, and then reapply next year. Since there are chances of repeating coursework, I would prefer the coursework to be less or if it can be carried over to new univ. But importantly , I should have time for research since that is my primary requirement.

You have time so evaluate all your options. Best  wishes.

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