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Torn between UW PhD and Princeton Master's


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Hi friends,

 

I've been extremely lucky to be accepted by both programs. UW is my dream program since I seriously considered pursuing a Ph.D. and my focus area is big data. I visited campus and POI last October before apply and I was accepted by the professor. I was very excited and determined to move to Seattle when I was offered admission last week.

 

However, Princeton is very kind to accept me for masters and provided full funding and stipend which means money is out of the consideration. Plus the program is research oriented and I will have a thesis advisor and do good research. So if I decide to continue to do a Ph.D after masters I might be able to get into the top four. But UW is not that far from the top four anyway...

 

Doing a master also gives me more flexibility I guess, if I have a change of mind (I do that a lot) and want to switch to other career paths.... but UW is so perfect in terms of environment, city, weather (I mean it)... 

 

I am really having a hard time deciding... 

 

Best to all,

VB

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For big data, UW PhD is better than Princeton PhD. For UW PhD vs Princeton Master's, this shouldn't be a question. Go to UW.

 

This is the same guy who said Harvard was better than CMU in computer science (ML) because Harvard is more well known in a general sense.

 

I believe the "ivy" status of Princeton is what attracts him to it over UW, and if that is more important to him than the actual program itself then he knows his choice already.

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My two cents:

 

Taking money out of the picture:
Go to Princeton for a funded MSc (flexibility, smoother transition, career opportunities maybe) and then decide if you want to continue for a PhD. I believe that there is a good chance they'll accept you at UW (I mean, you'll be even better by then).

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My two cents:

 

Taking money out of the picture:

Go to Princeton for a funded MSc (flexibility, smoother transition, career opportunities maybe) and then decide if you want to continue for a PhD. I believe that there is a good chance they'll accept you at UW (I mean, you'll be even better by then).

UW is a better school for that field, how would career opportunities be better?

 

Also if he rejects their acceptance and then applies 1.5 years later to the same program and degree he rejected I doubt they aren't going to remember him.

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I don't doubt you, it is just that in UW he will be in a PhD program. As he seems really unsure about what to choose, maybe it is better that he starts from a MSc program (smoother transition) and then proceed. Maybe when he graduates, he'll find a great job and reconsider about a PhD (that's what I meant with career opportunities). If not, he can always apply to UW. You think that they will hold a grudge against him?
 

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Getting a masters doesn't give you more flexibility in this case because UW awards you a masters on the way to your Ph.D. So if you decide you don't want a Ph.D and are at UW, you can drop out and have a masters and go on with your life. If you decide you want a Ph.D and you are at Princeton, you will have to apply again to another school.

 

Rankings hardly make a difference once you get up this high, even though UW might not sound that prestigious because it's a state school. So IMO if UW is your dream school, go with your dream school. But ultimately it is your call. I would highly encourage you to come to the visitation weekend and see if UW has a culture you like.

 

I'm super analytical, but if I were you and couldn't decide, I'd take out a piece of paper and write down all of the factors I consider important when looking at graduate schools. Then I'd rank both choices in terms of those factors. And I'd also make a note of which factors I weigh more heavily than others. Be honest with yourself if you do this.

 

Also, what's your goal in going to graduate school? What do you want to do with your graduate degree? That's an important question to consider when deciding between an MS and a Ph.D. I want to be a professor, so an MS is basically useless for me :lol:

 

Also I promise I'm not just recruiting you because I might go to UW. I still haven't accepted their offer haha. I need all opportunities in front of me before I decide! But it is a great school with great people.

Edited by thissiteispoison
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Here's my source:

 

 

What if I want to apply only for a master’s degree in computer science?

The Computer Science and Engineering department does not offer a separate, full-time master’s degree. All students evaluated and admitted into the Ph.D./M.S. program are determined to be capable of earning a Ph.D. and performing research in computer science. We consider all applicants with only Ph.D. criteria and potential in mind. The master's degree is earned on the way to completing the Ph.D..

 

http://www.cs.washington.edu/prospective_students/grad/application/faq#masters

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I would say please go to UW and decline Princeton ASAP so I can get off of the Princeton Masters wait list...haha (for real though).

But in all seriousness, UW is great for big data, and like others said, you can still change your mind about your career and leave UW with just a masters if you want. So if I were in your situation I would choose UW. But you can't really go wrong with either option :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Go to UW.

 

The fact that they offered you full funding at Princeton means you're probably one of their top admits.  And you know what they say about being the smartest person in the room - it means you're in the wrong room.

 

Also, if you reapply for PhD programs after you do your Master's, you might even have a worse chance, because

(a) your research during your Master's program may not be as good as your undergrad research, and then you'll have to explain what you've done for the past couple years

( b ) since you effectively had 6 years instead of 4 to prepare for your PhD, you'll probably be expected to have done more stuff

Edited by thr0waway
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( b ) since you effectively had 6 years instead of 4 to prepare for your PhD, you'll probably be expected to have done more stuff

 

This is an unfortunate reality of the process. Admissions committees are generally more critical of someone who has been out of undergrad for a few years regardless of what that person has been doing. Which is silly to me, because it's very easy to throw yourself into a Ph.D program after finishing undergrad, but very hard once you've had a few years to think about it; the former might mean you're not sure what to do with yourself, but the latter means you're absolutely committed. But hey, I'm not on an admissions committee :)

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The fact that they offered you full funding at Princeton means you're probably one of their top admits. 

 

This is false, afaik all cs masters admits to Princeton get TAship + tuition waiver which I assume is the package received by OP. 

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I got similar question.

 

 

How about PhD Program in UC, Santa Barbara and master program in UIUC. 

I do want to get a PhD and in UIUC,  student in MS program can transfer into PhD.

And both of the program provides TAShip so money is not a big problem. 

I am a little bit prefer UIUC because I can continue PhD there or even apply again(Apply for  other top 10 schools) after getting a master degree.

 

My area is game theory, TCS in broad. 

Edited by S.W.C
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