Admissions Process

Admissions criteria

By now, you’re probably already familiar with the criteria by which top universities evaluate applications.  These criteria do vary by university, but this section provides a brief summary.  

For PhD applications, the committee is looking for strong evidence of previous research contribution, as well as strong technical ability.  Evidence of other factors, such as creativity, leadership (the ability to get projects started and completed), and ability to write/speak could also help, though it varies by committee member how much emphasis they place on this.   For MS admissions, the committee is looking for evidence of your ability to complete coursework (and perhaps, but more rarely, participate in research).  

A strong LOR from a source that the committee trusts can help your application a lot.  For example, if a credible professor writes “this student is already doing research from at a level comparable to a PhD student from a top school,” that will really help.  Research publications (especially ones as first author) in top conferences/journals are also very helpful.  

Good grades in technical classes relevant to your research area is also somewhat helpful, though usually not enough by itself to get you admitted. (E.g., for Electrical Engineering PhD applications, committee may look to see if you’ve taken a lot of advanced EE/CS/Math classes, and done well in them).  

Your SOP and Resume are sometimes also examined by reviewers to try to get a quick summary of your professional background.

The reviewer will sometimes also look at your homepage (if provided), and perhaps even read some of your publications (or class project reports) to get a sense of what you’ve worked on before. Even if you don’t provide a url, some reviewers will search online for your homepage.


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