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Admission chances from Physics background


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Hi everyone,


I'm looking to apply to Computer Science MS or PHD programs in the states, but my background is from Physics at one of the top universities in Canada (UBC).


My background:




I am minoring in Computer Science, and have obtained top of the class or top 5% standing in almost all of the courses I've taken, including advanced artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer graphics and functional programming. I have additionally been in the top of my class for most of my Physics courses, including several awards.

My overall average is 89%, which is a solid A just bordering an A+ at my university, although we do not have a GPA conversion system.




I have participated in 4 distinct research projects. One in laser technology, one in ultra-cold atomic physics with an internationally renound professor in the field, one in Particle Physics, and one in Natural Language Processing. The three in Physics did not lead to papers, although the most recent one should lead to an international conference publication this year. All research supervisors can provide very strong reference letters.




I spent 8 months working for a large company in Vancouver which does satellite imagery analysis, the principal investigator here can also give me a very strong reference.




I have had leadership positions at my university, some teaching experience, and some community involvement for science outreach.



I'm taking next month, but I expect them to go fairly well.


With that in mind, the schools that I would be applying for would be hopefully near the top of the pile, but I'm not sure if this is reasonable or not:

- Berkeley

- Stanford

- Cornell



- Washington







Can anyone give me some recommendations/thoughts about how feasible my plan is? It would be much appreciated.


Thanks all!

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I think that you're very optimistic, especially for those "Backups".


Also picking universities based on ranking alone is not that useful for your future plans. Each university in your list has an admit percentage from 3 % to 10%. During your graduate studies you shall do a research project or thesis. I encourage you to check out what research is done in the universities you selected and if that research interests you at all.

A ranking of a university in a particular sub-field may be much greater than the university's overall ranking (for example, John Hopkins U in AI). Also the reputation of your advisor-professor in the target school is much more important (for funding, career opportunities) than the university's ranking.

Edited by compiler_guy
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Also picking universities based on ranking alone is not that useful for your future plans. Each university in your list has an admit percentage from 3 % to 10%. 

Agreed on this. Actually, many of those have admission percentages of <5%. I'm not trying to discourage, but do realize that at such low admission rates, it's pretty much up to chance whether the person reviewing applications is having a good day or not. It's definitely worth a shot, but I also recommend applying to about 10 schools.


Are you looking into doing AI research? Some other great places to apply to would be UT Austin and USC. These places do have low acceptance rates as well, but the more options you look into, the better.

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I'm not in CS but I graduated from UBC Physics too (in 2010). I don't think your main target list is unreasonable, especially given that it's probably not worth going to the US for a school that is not as good as the Canadian ones (e.g. Toronto, McGill). But maybe add UBC to your "backups" too and if you would rather go to a grad school than nothing at all, then pick another Canadian backup school (don't know what is good in CS).

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