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Duke PhD or Columbia MS


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Hello everyone! Congratulations to those admitted and good luck to those not.

I have been admitted to Duke for a PhD and Columbia for a Masters, both in Computer Science. 

I want to do research in Machine Learning and Columbia is very strong in that area. Of course Duke is a great school but I am on the fence because with the MS at Columbia I can gain more research experience and eventually reapply for a PhD at a top school.

What would you advise me given my interests?

Thank you.

Edited by clairee
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If you know that a PhD is your eventual end goal, then I'd lean towards the PhD. Duke has a top program in CS.

If the MS is unfunded, I would definitely go with Duke and not look back.

If both programs are funded, then here's the question. If you want to do research in ML - can you do that research at Duke? In other words, what is making you not want to go to Duke? For someone who knows they want a PhD, why would you choose to do an MS (particularly if you have to pay for it) rather than take a (presumably funded) offer at a top program in computer science?

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Hello everyone! Thank you for the advice.

Indeed, my end goal is to do a PhD and the Duke offer is great.

I guess I have always wanted to attend Columbia and it's hard to let go of that. Also, in my country, where I plan to go back to after grad school,  Columbia is way more known, I don't know if there will be repercussions in terms of employment. 

In any case, thanks everyone.

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If you look at top ML conferences (csrankings) Columbia is 7th while Duke is 48th, which makes Duke pretty good but Columbia is great. Also depending on if you care about location, Durham vs NYC is something you should think about.  

That said, if PhD is your endgame here, go to Duke unless you've spoken to people at Columbia on how easy it is to transfer to PhD from MS (for my program it is just getting a recommendation from the thesis committee). 

I also wouldn't consider what people know in your country, instead worry about what the companies/organizations know about each school.

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