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How selective are CMU, GATech, Stanford, and Penn for non-CS Majors


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Hi all,


I graduated with a business degree, and I'm interested in going for an MS in Computer Science.  I found that CMU, Stanford, GaTech and Upenn don't require a bachelors in CS for admissions.  But I was wondering, is it very hard for non-CS majors to get  admitted ?I personally haven't taken any CS courses, and I only took up to Calculus 2.  And whats worse is that I got a D in Calc 2.

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Those are all top CS programs, except for maybe GT. With your qualifications, I would

say it is nearly impossible that you are accepted. You may find it tough to get accepted into

most programs. Most successful applicants with a non cs background typically have a 

degree in a field more tangentially related, and have significant experience in computer

science, usually in the form of a minor. They also look heavily upon your math background,

which by your description doesn't seem to be very strong. If you want to improve your 

chances for a CSMS program, you should probably take, at least:


CS - Intro, Data Structures, Algorithm Analysis, Finite Automata, Object Oriented Design, Computer Architecture

Math - Discrete Math, Multivariable Calculus, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations


A strong showing in these classes would make you a much more viable candidate.


Best of luck in your future endeavors. 

Edited by gnufoo
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  • 3 weeks later...

You have a good chance of being accepted to Penn's MCIT program. The MCIT program is specifically meant for people who do not have a Bachelor Degree in CS. There are other similar programs like MCIT at Carnegie Mellon and Brandeis University. It doesn't matter if you have absolutely no programming experience. Your undergrad GPA, your GRE scores, your personal statement, and recommendation letters will determine whether you get in. 

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  • 2 months later...

Cinoadam, I was in the same situation as you, but I managed to get accepted to a top 20 MSCS program. I got in using this method:

1. Took 4 computer science courses covering the basics at a good top 50 school.

2. Took a discrete math / probability class. I had 2 semesters of calculus already.

3. Got a decent GRE quant score.

4. Got strong letters from professors and my boss.

5. Looked at the strengths of the department, found a couple of researchers in AI who I especially admired, read and discussed several of their published papers (why they were interesting, etc). Then talked about what I specifically wanted to get out of the program--work as a robotics software engineer and develop a robotic prototype to assist scuba divers.

I treated the application like it was for a PhD program even though I was under-qualified. I talked about what I wanted to study and why (robotics because it's amazing). My grades in the comp sci and math classes were all A's or B+. My references talked about my potential to do research and I hinted at it too in the SoP. Basically, schools want intellectual titans. If you come off sounding like you want to and can do cutting-edge research with faculty there, they are more likely to take you over someone who treats the MSCS as a terminal professional degree.

Edited by Moonracer
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