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I have been awarded the Fulbright Student Award (up to $35k for first year of Master's in the US) and at the end of the week I have to send the list of universities I prefer applying to. My problem is that I don't know how competitive I am and thus how high I should aim in selecting universities. 



I have obtained a BS in Computer Science from one of (if not the) best universities in my country (Romania): University of Bucharest. I have about 1.5 of work experience as a Data Scientist (at Adobe Romania, then at Bitdefender). Unfortunately I have no pure research experience, let alone publications.

My stats:

  • GPA: 3.85 (converted from 9.6/10) undergrad
  • GRE*: ~160Q, 167+V, 5.0A (estimated from latest practice tests)
  • TOEFL: ~110 (estimated from latest practice tests)
  • Personal Statement
  • Study Objectives
  • CV / Resume
  • Letters of Recommendation: I can provide them if someone is really interested in reading them

*I haven't taken the GRE yet because at the end, I should provide the list of schools I want to my scores sent to and that is precisely why I am here — I haven't settled on the schools yet.


School Selection

I want to pursue a research-oriented Master's of Science program in Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning / Data Science. I do not have a requirement for a sub-field (NLP / CV / DM / IR). Interdisciplinary opportunities (HCI / Data Visualization / Social Computing) would be a great bonus.

University preferences, in this order:

  1. CMU
  2. UW
  3. Stanford
  4. Cornell
  5. Georgia Tech

These preferences are based almost exclusively on the high university rankings (taken mostly from here) and the presence of strong ML faculty.


I do not want to fool myself into thinking I can get into even one of these top schools. I would be very grateful if I could get some advice / evaluation on where I stand, what my chances are and what is the approximate range of schools I am competitive for — what I should realistically aim for. Also any advice on what I am lacking / I can improve is greatly appreciated.


Notes: because my application process will be partly handled by the Institute of International Education, I cannot customize my essays for each university. Also I am limited to five schools to send my application to. The scholarship is offered for pursuing a Master's Degree only.


Thank you!

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It's a bit difficult to tell what your goals are for studying HCI from your personal statement and study objectives. I understand you are looking for feedback before your Fullbright deadline, but my suggestion is that you tailor your personal statement to each school you're interested in applying for before asking for feedback. With your current versions, it's very hard to offer feedback because it sounds like you're applying to a non-HCI field since your statements are filled with references to AI. (Hint: Talk more about why you care about interaction/design.)

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