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Help required choosing between PhD programs in CS


pd1989

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For fall 2017 I applied to 10 programs. Accept - 5, Reject - 1. Waiting for the other schools. In the mean time I already declined my offer from Ohio State University and I would like to rank the other programs I got accepted to and I require help from you people. :) 

My interest area is Systems particularly mobile and embedded systems, IoT and verification of such systems. I am going to list down the universities and the factors I am considering for each school. One of the big factors is that my husband got into University of Texas, Dallas for PhD in AI/ML. That is the only offer he got till now. So, here goes the list - 

1. University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign  -- It is the best systems research institute according to csrankings.org and also in the top 5 in Usnews. I was interviewed by this young professor who joined last year only and I would his second PhD student. He is also providing me RAship for the first year to pursue my studies, I may have teaching responsibilities. His research interests aligns mine somewhat, but explores a comparatively new domain for me. Other senior professors whom I mentioned in my SOP did not contact me. UIUC is almost 800 miles away from Dallas, but the flight tickets are cheaper from Dallas to Chicago compared to other cities in my list. I think I am leaning towards this option because of its prestige and ranking mostly. 

2. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta -- It is also somewhat similar in USnews ranking with UIUC, but its systems research rank is far below UIUC at csrankings.org. There was no interview. But a professor who is quite senior mailed me about joining his group. I also talked with his team. Their research area aligns pretty well with what I had done earlier. GaTech ensures a fellowship for 5 years without any responsibilities. Living cost is much more in Atlanta. It is also around 800 miles from Dallas. 

3. University of Massachusetts, Amherst -- No interview. Admit mail contained name of three professors as my recruiting professors - one senior professors and two associate professors. The senior professor contacted me and I talked with his current student. They are working in the domain I earlier had worked in and one other research line is there also. But I am more interested in the work of one of the associate professors, but unfortunately this professor did not contact me and I dont know if I would get a position in his team. One year TA is offered. But the caveat is that Amherst is far far away from Dallas. :( And I was unable to compute the rough estimate of living costs here.

4. University of Pennsylvania -- Interviewed by the young assistant professor who is interested in me, along with two more senior colleagues of her to be sure of me. All of them has co-authored papers and they liked me very much (mentioned this in their email). One of these three professors have a paper with the prof at UIUC! Anyways, my admit letter says that I am going to work with the assistant professor and I have scope to explore newer areas within my research interest. I am also getting 5 years fellowship with no teaching responsibilities may be. However, the department is smaller compared to that of UIUC or GaTech and it is around 1500 miles away from Dallas. 

Could anyone please help me out in deciding the ranking of the universities? Thank you in advance! 

 

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I'm not in your field so I unfortunately can't comment on that, but from your descriptions it seems that UMass isn't the best fit. One thing to consider regarding distance is that UIUC is a 2 1/2-3 hour bus ride from Chicago, so in terms of total travel time it would probably take you longer to go from UIUC to Dallas than Atlanta to Dallas or even Philly to Dallas. 

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from my experience working at an FFRDC where there's tons of CS people, I'd say UMass Amherst is a great community. I've met women in CS there and they are truly colleagues that you want to know! UPenn (ivy) has a big name, which may help you, but I haven't met anyone from uPenn who was more "outstanding" that anyone else. I work with someone who did a PhD at UIUC who is amazing and utterly amazing, and just amazing. Georgia Tech is also very reputable for STEM (unlike an ivy which does not always carry a huge reputation for STEM).

It's great to have funding without teaching responsibilities, as these will sometimes detract from your research commitments. If I was choosing for you, coming from CS but not in your sub-discipline (I'm more AI/ML), I'd go with UIUC or GaTech. The weather is much nicer in Georgia. My two cents.

 

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On 3/17/2017 at 1:57 AM, pd1989 said:

1. University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign  -- It is the best systems research institute according to csrankings.org and also in the top 5 in Usnews. I was interviewed by this young professor who joined last year only and I would his second PhD student. He is also providing me RAship for the first year to pursue my studies, I may have teaching responsibilities. His research interests aligns mine somewhat, but explores a comparatively new domain for me. Other senior professors whom I mentioned in my SOP did not contact me. UIUC is almost 800 miles away from Dallas, but the flight tickets are cheaper from Dallas to Chicago compared to other cities in my list. I think I am leaning towards this option because of its prestige and ranking mostly. 

2. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta -- It is also somewhat similar in USnews ranking with UIUC, but its systems research rank is far below UIUC at csrankings.org. There was no interview. But a professor who is quite senior mailed me about joining his group. I also talked with his team. Their research area aligns pretty well with what I had done earlier. GaTech ensures a fellowship for 5 years without any responsibilities. Living cost is much more in Atlanta. It is also around 800 miles from Dallas. 

 

I used to live in Atlanta, the living cost is only high if you choose to live in midtown (where tech is) but you can live anywhere on the marta line which runs through some inexpensive places (if you only want public transport). Theoretically you could even live in Bankhead (next to tech) for really cheap, but then you'd live in Bankhead.

Both GT and UIUC have great names, you just have to decide on research fit and what city (or small college town for UIUC) you want to live in for 5 years.

Edited by .letmeinplz//
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