The PhD Program in Computer Science FAQ

Here are a list of commonly asked questions. I hope this helps all of yall on the hunt for higher education and enlightenment. :D

There is a ton of information at The Stanford CS Admissions Page, so please look there before emailing me. (If you want to get a PhD, you will have to be good at research, so you might as well start practicing now! :D)

  1. What academic background is required?

    A bachelor's degree in CS. More detailed information is at The Stanford CS Admissions Page.

  2. What can I do to boost my application?

    Having publications in internationally recognized journals and conferences is a bonus. Have done research previously is nice as well. You will also need strong recommendations.

  3. What do I say in my statement of purpose?

    Write about topics of research that fascinate you, that intrigue you. Your enthusiasm will come through to the admissions committee.

  4. Any other ideas?

    I highly recommend applying for fellowships like the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships. Obviously a student who is "free" is more attractive than one who requires funding.

  5. You have an Indian surname so I thought I would ask you about whether my qualifications are good enough...

    My parents are from India, but I was brought up in the U.S. So unfortunately, I cannot give you any useful advice about whether your program of study in India is adequate.

  6. I'm an international student. I took test "ABC" and got a score of x. Is that enough to get into Stanford?

    I am not familiar with any international exams. As a rule of thumb, you will need to score in at least the top 90% of any test to be considered for admission. I don't know what the current requirements are (See The Stanford CS Admissions Page), but you need to do well on the General GRE, Computer Science GRE, and TOEFL.

  7. What about funding?

    If you are a Master's student, you can try to get a TAship, or get an RAship from a willing professor. Note that for Master's candidates either of these are often hard to get, so try to find a professor whose research meshes well with your qualifications. You can find a directory of professors and their interests over at the research page.

    On the other hand, the department funds the Ph.D. candidates for the first quarter, after which he is expected to find an advisor, who usually funds them for the rest of their stay at Stanford.

  8. What's the difference between the MS and PhD programs?

    The Master of Science program is separate from the PhD program. While PhD students generally are funded and do not have to worry about tuition, Masters generally do have to pay tuition.

    Admission to the MS program does not guarantee eventual admission to the PhD program, although in special cases it can provide a nice stepping stone. For example, if you do great research for a Stanford CS professor as a MS student, then you will increase your chances of getting into the PhD program later on. But this is still no guarantee.

  9. My GRE/CS GRE/ <your favorite test here> score is X. Is that good enough?

    You need to be in at least the top 10% percentile of test scorers.

  10. I want to do research in field X (X != AI). Whom should I contact?

    The research page contains a good, up to date summary on our faculty, and their proficiencies.

  11. What are some good places to study Logical AI?

    Other than Stanford and CSLI, I recommend these institutions:

  12. default: Any other questions, I may not be able to handle as I have graduated and been out of the loop of the department for over a year now.
For more information see The Stanford CS Admissions Page.

Good Luck!

Aarati Parmar
Last modified: Fri Aug 20 11:51:20 2004