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I hold a BSc and MSc in physics and want to do graduate studies in CS. I did computational and theoretical research and thesis on quantum memories which are useful in quantum communications (not sure if that sounds any interesting to CS admission committees). But I have not officially taken CS foundations courses (well, except some through Coursera and edX). I am willing to pay for a decent Masters program through loans and part-time work though. Here are my questions from you:

  1. Can I improve my odds of getting into a decent department by applying to Masters programs instead of PhD programs?
  2. Besides full score on GRE quantitative, I got a decent score in GRE physics. Can any of these make up for my lack of formal education in CS?
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I'm no expert, but with research experience and already having a Masters in physics, I think that you should directly apply to the PhD programs. During your first two years, you're going to take courses anyway. So unless you don't think that you'll be able to handle those courses, I think that doing another masters and then your PhD will be a waste of time and money. It depends on where you want to go, but a lot of schools will make you take courses in your PhD even if you already have a masters in CS.

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