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Stanford ICME vs Georgia Tech ACO


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So, I've narrowed it down to two schools that I'm considering. 


I'm a math major who wants to go to graduate school. Georgia Tech ACO gave me a PhD admit in mid-February, and Stanford ICME gave me a masters admit in mid-March. While the masters admission would normally be out of the question, I recieved an NSF GRFP, so all of my funding problems are gone; I can continue to the PhD program and get a TAship at Stanford as normal once my NSF funding lapses. So here are the pros and cons:





Excellent body of researchers in fields other than applied math (which is what I was accepted for)

Good coursework

Nice faculty to work with; most of them were approachable.

Job placement

It's Stanford



No graph theory (the field of math I would like to work in most)

Not as good an advisor as the one at Georgia Tech



Georgia Tech:


The best graph theory program in the country

An excellent advisor who seems enthusiastic to work with me (he offered me an RAship before I got my NSF GRFP)

Similarly nice faculty to Stanford

Very well known in the field



Not as much prowess in math other than graph theory (the rest of their program is good but not great)

Coursework is less intensive, but similar to Stanford for the most part

Job placement is significantly worse here


A little bit about myself:


Undergrad: unranked, unknown state; majoring in math w/ econ minor
GPA: 3.8 overall, 3.9 in core
Research: I've done a couple independent studies on analytical number theory and a research project on integral equations, which ended in a paper. I've also done an REU on computational geometry which resulted in an unpublished manuscript (I'll publish it when I have time) and I am currently doing a senior thesis project on saturation numbers with a pretty well-respected professor.

Interests: pretty flexible; I'd prefer to do graph theory or other combinatorics but I will willingly work in applied math as well.
TA experience: 1 semester of grading and 1 semester of tutoring
Scholarships: Nothing special; dean's list, departmental stuff, the like.

GRE: 169 Q 166 V 5.0 W; 800 (81%) subject
Other: I have an NSF GRFP; 30 on putnam


So, what should I do? I really have three options:

1.Accept Georgia Tech

2.Accept Stanford

3.Accept Stanford for MS, and defer Georgia Tech for a PhD (this might raise problems with the NSF)



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You say you're flexible, but how much is versatility important to you and how much do you want to work in graph theory? I personally would go for ICME, but that's because of how vital that versatility is for me. The fact that Stanford doesn't have anyone in the field you want to work in sounds like a red flag, so whether or not that is so to you depends on how flexible you actually are. That, and how much you value ranking/prestinge over your research interests. I think the general rule is go for the funding, and if that's secure, go for the research over the prestige. Of course that can vary though (e.g. I don't really have super specific research interests, so prestige weighs in a lot more).


Curious, why would accepting the masters and then moving be bad for the NSF GRFP? I'm not very familiar with it.

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