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Profile Evaluation - Computer Science Ph.D Fall 2016


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Institution- University of Wisconsin-Madison

Major- Computer Science

Major GPA- 3.87

Overall GPA- 3.73

Last 2 years GPA- 3.9


Quant - 170

Verbal - 169

Writing - 4.0

Research Experience at UW

  • 15 months (ongoing) in Machine Learning. No publications yet.
  • 3 months (ongoing) in Computer Vision. No publications yet. 
  • 3 months in Human Computer Interaction. No publications.

Other Experience

  • Machine Learning project centered technical internship at Intuit.
  • Software team member in Wisconsin Robotics, a student organization at UW.

Interested Fields for Ph.D

AI, Machine Learning, Robotics

Universities applying to (in rough order of preference)

Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, Berkeley, CalTech, University of Washington, Harvard, Cornell, UPenn, Columbia, Brown, UMass Amherst, UT Austin.


Could anyone please evaluate my profile for these universities. Any advice on what I can do now to improve my chances to get admissions is also greatly appreciated!



Edited by meditatingmuse
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  • 4 weeks later...

It really depends on the quality of your research experience and whom you are doing research with. The fact that there has not been a publication (even a workshop) after 15 months is bit of a red flag.

To be honest I would not waste time applying to Stanford/MIT/Berkeley, unless you think you can get a high profile publication (first author) between now and Dec 15th. I would also cross Princeton/CalTech/Harvard off the list, since their AI/Robotic is small, and you aren't an "obvious" admit.

Finally, it seems like you've just picked the top 20 schools + ivies from USNews without giving thought to relevant faculty doing research in your area. This is usually a bad idea. I suggest you narrow down your search, and include some schools outside of top 20. Even UMass Amhert/Harvard (which is the "lowest" ranked school in terms of USNews) is very very difficult to get into.

Sorry if this is not what you want to hear, but this is coming from someone who saw firsthand how insanely competitive thing are in AI/ML last year (and it doesn't seem like this year will be any less competitive).


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As tough as cicada2014's advice is, I mostly agree. I think you could apply to some  Masters programs to get more research experience if you want to go to these top-20 schools for a PhD. I think your profile is good enough to get you into some top Masters program, where you can build up your profile for PhD admissions. Also try to get some publications out of your current research for when you apply in the future. If you don't want to go for an intermediate Masters, you can apply right after you graduate from UW and make sure you get publications (ideally first author) out of your current research during the rest of your senior year. Good luck!

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  • 4 weeks later...

On the other hand, your chance if you don't apply is 0. If you are really interested in these schools -- apply. Most undergrads don't have publications at all. Sure, the competition is tough, but you could potentially have great LoRs from your research advisors.

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