Computer Science, probably the most sought-after field for a Master's degree and also the most competitive one!
So, what do you need to do in order to be a teensy bit more confident that you could be pursuing your degree from one of the best colleges. That's exactly what I am gonna tell you.
But first let me tell you which colleges are considered the 'best' for CS. The top 25 universities in the USA for Computer Science as of right now are:
(According to US news Ranking 2017)
All of these seem like heaven for anyone interested in the field of computer science. And why shouldn't they, they're the best in the world for a reason!!
But this also means that they're extremely picky during admissions and take only the students who they think are the best of the thousands of applications that they receive.
This is just a hint towards what they look for in an applicant. But even so, we all know how dynamic the admission procedure is and how much it can vary from person to person!
But overall, this is the trend that gets followed by most of the university admits.
A high GRE score
This is probably the first thing that universities look at. A GRE score of above 327 with a quant score of above 165 should be satisfactory for most of the schools mentioned above.
But, the higher score you have, the higher you can go in the list rank-wise.
Though universities do not directly reject students with a lower GRE score, but when it comes to preference between two similar applicants, the one with the higher GRE score is preferred.
GRE preparation for a score like this can generally be pretty long and intense but in the end, totally worth it.
A good TOEFL score
It is a general understanding that the TOEFL score is just to ensure that the applicant knows good English and is just considered as a minimum requirement to be fulfilled. This is not true. A good TOEFL score signifies that not only does the applicant know good English, but also that he can
communicate well in real life situations and has certain soft skills that enhance his overall personality.
The TOEFL score is considered extremely important when applying for a RA or TA.
Generally, a TOEFL score above 107 is considered good and honestly not that difficult to get if you have been learning English as a subject since school time.
Speaking from personal experience, I gave 4 complete days to TOEFL prep alone, with 6 hours a day of practice and got 113.
A better than average CGPA
Well, the importance of a high CGPA extremely obvious and requires no explanation.
A CGPA of above 8.75 should be good but then again, the higher the better!
Internships, job experience and projects
Having any kind of practical experience in the field of your interest is always good. It makes it known to the admissions committee that you know your area of interest as you have had practical experience and shows them that you're confident as to why you want to further pursue MS in CS.
Even here, which field you have experience in matter. For example, if you have worked as a business analyst for a year before applying for MS in CS, it will not be as beneficial as working as a software developer. Or having done an internship in marketing has zero reflection on the fact that you have good technical skills!Thus, relevant work experience is the one that directly reflects that you have practical experience in the CS field.
Similarly with projects. If you have taken up a project that doesn’t require much technical skill, it will not be given as much importance as a project that involves more technical skill. For example, developing a simple android application versus designing an entire backend database for the same application maybe!
You really have to show yourself as someone who is both proficient and interested in CS.
A good SOP
A good SOP is extremely important. It can make or break an application. It is the only document you have to represent yourself to the admissions committee and make them believe that you are the perfect applicant for the program. You need to present your reason as to why that universitiy is the one for you for MS in CS. You need to highlight your strengths and show how the course can help you become stronger.
The main focus of your application is your SOP!
These are the main deciding factors for a strong application and for a slightly higher possibility of getting an admit from the universities mentioned above.
Of course there is no hard and fast rule that these are the only factors or that these scores will be the only thing that can get you through.
Applicants with lower scores have gotten an admit and applicants with higher scores have been rejected! It is the overall profile that counts. Make sure you make it count!