I am an undergrad from India from a good university( not IIT,NIT). Our GPA is calculated on a different percentage scale and mine is 73-75% which is a very good score according to our system. My GRE score=1600. I have an internship at a major company. I am thinking of writing a research paper but have no research experience. Do I have a chance at the top colleges like UC Berkeley,or Michigan or even Carnegie Mellon?


Maybe. There's really no way to tell without looking at your complete application.

If you applied to my department's research MS program, your good grades and GRE scores would probably attract enough attention that someone would actually review your application. Most of our MS applications are rejected without review. But that's as far as grades and test scores will get you.

Since you claim not to come from an IIT or NIT, there might be some question about how good your university is. If we've never admitted someone from your school before, we don't know how to calibrate your grades or recommendation letters. Every year we seem to get applications from two or three new schools in India that even our Indian faculty and graduate students don't recognize. We do sometimes admit one or two truly outstanding students from unknown schools as a way of gathering data.

Having an internship is definitely good, especially if you did something creative and independent, and not just "My boss told me to implement this thing, so I did."

But the admission decision would really depend on your research statement (or "statement of purpose") and your recommendation letters. As I have written many times before, graduate admissions committees at top departments are looking for potential for research excellence. My committee would judge that potential from the content of your statements and letters, and from the credibility of your letter-writers. Research experience is certainly helpful, but it's not necessary, especially for an MS.

This is really an question for your letter writers. Ask them directly if they can write strong and substantial letters that focus on your research potential. If they look uncomfortable (or they don't know what "research potential" means), you should probably aim a bit lower.

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  • Actually I am from Mumbai University which is not too bad. – abc May 29 '13 at 1:09

Top PhD programs in Computer Science are very selective. Just having good or even excellent grades is not enough. At least, you need to have very strong recommendation letters and preferably some undergraduate research experience. I would suggest applying not only to top schools but also to second tier schools.

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  • Sure I will apply to second tier schools too :). – abc May 28 '13 at 14:57
  • I was wondering if my internship will help me and if I have a chance at a top tier school. – abc May 28 '13 at 14:57
  • Btw it is MS program not Ph D. – abc May 28 '13 at 14:58
  • Research MS or course-based MS? – JeffE May 28 '13 at 15:23
  • Research based preferably. – abc May 29 '13 at 1:09

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