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So I'm currently applying for the Fullbright Masters Scholarship. I want to do Masters in Computer Graphics and there are very few universities in the US that deeply explore that area namely, Utah, Cornell, Stanford etc. The problem with Fullbright Scholarship is that they are responsible for placing you and there is no guarantee you get the University you want.

Since I've a couple of personal research projects already on my Github, I was hoping to email a professor asking for an invitation letter from his university if I appear promising. However since, this is a Masters, I certainly don't want to get bound and give my Master's thesis under the same professor as I haven't even explored all the sub-areas and haven't developed my interests fully. I was thinking that an invitation letter from the university I wish to join will certainly bolster my chances of getting placed there.

So is it appropriate to ask for an invitation letter under these circumstances and if so, should I explicitly mention that I've not made up my mind regarding a specific research area? Any tips or advices are helpful as this is my first time.

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  • Note that the Fulbright program is run differently in different countries. Hence the answer to your question may depend on the country you are applying from.
    – mmeent
    Mar 15 '20 at 22:28
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I want to do Masters in Computer Graphics and there are very few universities in the US that deeply explore that area namely, Utah, Cornell, Stanford etc.

Are you sure there are very few? This website is a very good resource for seeing which programs are active in an area: CSRankings -- Computer Graphics. It lists many universities with faculty who are actively publishing, including in order: Stanford, MIT, UCSD, CMU, NYU, Cornell, Texas A&M, etc. (Utah is only #19 in this ranking, which is based on number of publications at the top venues).

Since I've a couple of personal research projects already on my Github, I was hoping to email a professor asking for an invitation letter from his university if I appear promising.

This is perfectly appropriate, but it does sound like the kind of email many professors are likely to ignore, especially since you are looking into Masters programs and not PhD. So I would be careful to keep it brief, to the point, and state your qualifications / accomplishments early (and/or link to your CV or webpage which states those things).

However since, this is a Masters, I certainly don't want to get bound and give my Master's thesis under the same professor as I haven't even explored all the sub-areas and haven't developed my interests fully.

You would ideally email professors who you would broadly be interested in working for; to not do so is misleading, as you are essentially emailing to open up a connection of mutual interest between you.

However, you should not be worried about being formally bound at this stage. Sending an email is not a formal binding, and as long as you are honest, there should be no hard feelings if your plans change after you join the program or after you are admitted. Research interests inherently change over time, and many people switch to entirely different areas (let alone sub-areas). You can also check with the program to see if students are formally bound to advisors on admission, or later.

should I explicitly mention that I've not made up my mind regarding a specific research area?

I would briefly mention this, yes -- it's along the lines of being honest and not giving a bad impression. Be as specific as you can without being dishonest -- "broadly interested in computer graphics" is fine if that's all you are sure about, but if you know some sub-areas you are interested in (that might align with the professor's), that can help as well.

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  • Hey thanks for the response. About the first part though, I find that most of those universities mentioned in the link don't have any detailed out program specifically for Computer Graphics. You won't even find Computer Graphcis as a research area if you explore it on MIT's website. I did my research on most of USA's universities based on the coursework and the faculty members, I found that the above mentioned universities were the best in terms of the overall program. Especially Utah's program is mostly focused on exploring most of the areas inside Computer Graphics. Mar 15 '20 at 21:21
  • @gallickgunner I really recommend trusting CSRankings over manually searching coursework and faculty members, as you seem to have missed a great deal of professors publishing in graphics by manually searching. As a case in point, see MIT: CSRankings lists at least two professors publishing prolifically, 24 papers each in the last 5 years, Wojciech Matusik and Fredo Durand. If you check both of their pages you can see if their work interests you. They have a graphics group called CFG
    – 6005
    Mar 15 '20 at 22:09
  • I have been through the searching process before, and, like you, I mainly trusted what I found on university web pages about specific faculty. My #1 regret about the search process is that I did not have something like CSRankings available. I'm not here trying to promote some random, not-well-known website; it's widely used and well regarded. The point is that if you do a manual search, you miss a lot of things.
    – 6005
    Mar 15 '20 at 22:10
  • Bottom line, it is totally up to you to decide what is interesting to you, and that is certainly more than how often they publish in top venues. Coursework for instance is extremely important especially for a master's, and CSRankings doesn't include that, so it's good you've been looking into that. I'm not in computer graphics so I don't know the programs. But, if your interested in research prospects, you really want to know what universities are publishing, and you seem to have overlooked some programs.
    – 6005
    Mar 15 '20 at 22:12
  • Oh, I found a link to the graphics group website: MIT Computer Graphics. Anyway, sorry if I got defensive, I just think your statement that MIT doesn't have a good program is really fishy given that they seem to be the top program in this area. Of course you may be right in terms of the "overall program" and qualities that are important to you. I would seek advice from an expert in the area, who can serve as a mentor.
    – 6005
    Mar 15 '20 at 22:22

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