MSE PHD: Rice vs UCLA vs UIUC? - Decisions, Decisions - The GradCafe Forums
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MSE PHD: Rice vs UCLA vs UIUC?


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Time to make a decision, and HELP!!!....I got MSE PhD offers from UIUC, Rice, and UCLA...They are all great schools, and I can't decide now...........I have visited all three of them, and here are some pros and cons that I observed from each school:


Rice: Program too small, not as highly ranked as UCLA or UIUC, only ~7 faculty in MSE department...but I like the campus A LOT!! and the professors seem very nice too with some great publications. It's also very cheap to live there compared to UCLA...Also, Houston has a lot of engineering/energy opportunities...I can imagine myself living there...


UIUC: Highly ranked MSE program, lots of professors/research groups to choose from, offered me the most money and a school fellowship, but I don't really like the location and weather.........If I really and ONLY care about research, maybe UIUC is the best choice, but I also want to live happily, and UCLA/Rice would make me happier.....UIUC can be too cold in the winter, and i have had enough cold winters....


UCLA: Great location and I have very good friends there.. I also have professors who I want to work for..The ONLY thing is MONEY...They didn't offer me first-year funding, which sounds very strange...and i have to pay out-of-state tuition for a phd program, which sounds even stranger to me...........................ok, two of the professors said that they will take care of my first-year funding if I really decide to go there (but it's not official!), so HOW DO I KNOW for sure? What if I went and ended up with no funding? And even if they did give me funding, UCLA should be a very expensive place to live...


ok..another one is Penn State, but I really don't like the location even though they have a really really good MSE program....

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I would take UCLA off the list. I want to be somewhere where I am heavily recruited... not somewhere where I feel unsure of whether I will even be paid for my work!


I personally would choose UIUC... its an amazing school! Rice is great too though and I don't think you will go wrong with going there.

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Hi Laoliu102, I am also admitted to MSE PhD at UCLA, and have to self-support for first year as well (which is so weird...) I am wondering when and which professor did you talk to who would like to provide you with first year support? It's definitely a big concern wrt to the cost of living in LA..

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I was admitted to UCLA for a different program and they told me the same thing: they can offer ONE year of a stipend, but cannot afford to pay for out-of-state tuition for the first year (they can pay in-state tuition when residency is established after year #1). 


So basically I'm on the hook for a year's worth of out-of-state tuition, and then have to find my own living funding for the next FOUR years? I'm afraid that's quite untenable. 

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