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2.4 GPA and 169V / 170Q / 5.0 GRE, do I have a chance at getting into Computer Science M.S. programs?


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Here are my stats:

  • B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 2.42 cumulative GPA
  • edit: If I include the 5 post-bacc courses I took, my cumulative GPA would be a 2.6. Is this the number that graduate schools will use?
  • 3.67 GPA for last 60 hours (including post-bacc coursework)
  • GRE: 169 verbal, 170 quantitative, 5.0 writing 
  • Math/CS courses taken since graduation (with an A in all of them)
    • CS50 Intro to Computer Science (online through Harvard Extension)
    • Math E-15 Calculus I (online through Harvard Extension)
    • CS 112 Data Structures (Rutgers University)
    • Math 250 Intro to Linear Algebra (Rutgers University)
    • CS 205 Intro to Discrete Structures I (Rutgers University)

A few semesters of D's and F's early on in college destroyed my cumulative GPA, but my grades improved significantly later on. I'm also good at standardized tests and did well on the GRE, and got A's in the five math/CS courses I took this year.

Realistically, what are my chances of being accepted by a decent Computer Science M.S. program? These are the schools that I haven't yet eliminated on my list, ordered and labeled from the highest to lowest U.S. News ranking in computer science (which I know isn't necessarily accurate, but I just want a sense of what caliber of school is possible for me):

  • #5 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • #9 University of Texas - Austin
  • #13 University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • #20 University of Southern California
  • #23 Yale University
  • #24 Rice University
  • #25 University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • #29 New York University
  • #29 University of Virginia
  • #29 University of California - Irvine
  • #34 Rutgers University
  • #40 Stony Brook University
  • #40 Dartmouth College
  • #48 Arizona State University
  • #48 Boston University
  • #52 Indiana University - Bloomington
  • #63 University at Buffalo - SUNY
  • #67 Syracuse University
  • #70 Tufts University
  • #70 College of William and Mary
  • #70 New York University Polytechnic
  • #90 New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • #112 Temple University
  • #112 Binghamton University - SUNY

Which of these schools might I have a chance at and which do I have none? And if anyone has experience with or an opinion about any of these schools I would love to hear it.


Edited by tobyps
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No research and no internships in CS. I've been programming on my own for several years, and I've done independent projects (but nothing professional enough to include in my application).

All of my recs are from professors in those courses. One of my letters is really enthusiastic, which I know because the professor liked me and voluntarily showed me what he wrote. The other two letters are probably going to be more generic.

Edited by tobyps
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If I were you, I would really get an internship and do research before applying.  That will make a huge difference (given the extremely low GPA).  If that enthusiastic prof were also your research advisor and you had a glowing rec from a summer internship, I think you'd get much better results.  Lastly, can you take another CS course(s), or something?  I know they're expensive.  But, if your portfolio is not at the level you want, you might benefit from more training in order to present some "professional-looking" stuff.  

Also, are you sure those grad schools don't have GPA cut-offs?  Sometimes departments don't post that info.  You have to contact the general graduate school.  From what I've seen in the sciences, someone might be able to slide in with a poor GPA if he/she has a killer portfolio/great research background/whatever.  Without those, I'm not sure how one would fare, even at the lower ranking places.  

Edited by Chai_latte
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Most of the schools on that list don't have minimum GPA cutoffs or only look at the last two years, which is one of the main reasons I'm considering them.

But in case I get rejected by every school I apply to this time, I do plan to take more CS courses and improve my background in other respects. Thanks for the advice.

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I was asking b/c I knew this guy who applied to W&M for physics a few years back.  He had a low GPA; a cut-off was not advertised.  He was rejected specifically because of his grades, which were in the "B-" range.  

Good luck, and it's great if they're only looking at the last 2 years.

Edited by Chai_latte
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