I am an undergraduate applied math and statistics major and plan on applying to PhD programs after graduation. My research interests are in machine learning, cv, etc.. And do research in the stats and CS department in ML/DL. I am thinking of applying to PhD CS programs, but have only taken 4 CS classes in undergrad, but I have had two internships with Amazon as a software engineer. Can my experience in industry make up for the lack of CS classes as an undergrad? I obviously want to get into the best program possible, but worried that my lack of CS classes might hinder my chances of getting accepted.

edit: Not a duplicate. Not worried about weak grades, gre, research, etc.. I am just wondering from a graduate admissions perspective will they look negatively on less CS classes even though I have research and industry experience in CS.

marked as duplicate by Richard Erickson, scaaahu, corey979, Jon Custer, Bryan Krause Jun 12 at 18:21

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  • @RichardErickson I am not asking because of weak, grades, gre, or research. I have research in CS and strong skills. I am wondering if grad school admissions will see having less CS classes as a negative even with research and industry experience. – KS6 Jun 11 at 17:33
  • Can you credibly link what you did in your industrial internships to the subject you'd like to potentially do a PhD dissertation in? For example, if you want to do a PhD dissertation on something about machine vision, did you do machine vision in an internship? – Nat Jun 11 at 19:50
  • Best way to find out is to write a short and polite email to a likely supervisor, asking them. – Flyto Jun 11 at 22:25

While not every place will respond positively, I don't see a huge problem in the US. But you will need to write your application materials so that people look at your "special case" positively and find strong evidence that you will likely succeed. You will be facing a lot of stiff competition at good places by people with a more standard and easy to judge set of qualifications, so you need to find a way to stand out.

Your current majors are useful in your proposed study, of course, even if you are missing some CS things.

So, don't stress the lack of additional courses in CS but the possession of skills related to the program that you want to join. Your academic record is what it is, though you may have time for some additional courses, but your other activities may, in the eyes of a reviewer, compensate for that and even give you an advantage. It is all, or at least a lot, about how you present yourself and your skills.

It might depend, of course, on which particular CS courses you took and on the kind of things you did in the internships. But like anyone, you have to make it easy to answer the main question: "Is it highly likely this person will succeed?". If you make it obvious that the answer is yes, then you have a shot. It will also be helpful if you have some ideas, even if only partly formed, on the kind of thing you want to study. Fairly specific. Fairly detailed.

  • Rather than getting three academic references would the OP might benefit from getting a references from a technical leader at Amazon? – Patricia Shanahan Jun 11 at 22:28

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