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My Background I graduated with a master's in CS from Rutgers in 2017. I was a part-time lecturer for an intro to CS course for two semesters and I barely focused on the master's course work. I got a 3.33/4 GPA. I have an 8.04/10 in undergrad from an unknown college in India. No research experience or papers. My goal in those two years was to get a high paying job and get out. To that end, I have been working as a Software engineer at Bloomberg for about 3.5 years till now.

What I want Half of the industry research jobs in machine learning, natural language processing either require a Ph.D. degree or 2 to 3 papers in a top conference. I badly want those jobs. Not because of the money, not because of my vanity or anything. I frequently attend tech talks, lightning talks about the ML projects that research scientists in my company are working on. I read the code they produce on Github. I Can say with confidence that is this something I find immensely interesting. I really badly want a job as a research scientist.

Also, people say that there are not many research scientist jobs and all. I think about 80% of the people I know at Rutgers who were getting their Ph.D. are working as research scientists today or as an assistant professor somewhere. So I pretty much made up my mind. I want a part-time Ph.D. admits. This is my goal. I am 29 years old and I want to start my Ph.D. program as soon as possible.

What I have done There are about three professors at Rutgers. I searched for all the papers they published up until 2016. I read 5 to 6 papers per professor in detail. I read the abstract of all the papers. Suffice to say, I am moderately familiar with their research. I have a rough idea of the problems that they are trying to solve.

What should I do? Given that I have defined my situation, my goal, the things that I have done so far, what should be my game plan to get a part-time CS Ph.D. Admit. Even if it is not funded, I don't mind. If push comes to shove, I am more than willing to foot my own bill.

Who should I talk to? How should I approach a potential professor whose research group I am interested in joining. What are the chances that they will indulge me and invite me over to talk in person. Is there even the remotest chance that I can get a part-time CS Ph.D. Admit or am I just wasting my time?

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    You should treat a PhD as a job. If you do not wish to quit your current job to get a PhD, you do not wish to get a PhD. Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 5:52
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    Are there well-regarded part-time PhD programs in CS? There are no such programs in my ( admittedly orthogonal) field. I suppose some people transition to part-time when their projects drag on too long past their funding. But that is considered a bit of a mismanagement by all.
    – Dawn
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 6:02
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    @Dawn. Part-time Ph.D. and full-time PhDs are basically the same right. Like on the diploma it wouldn't mention if I am a full-time student or not right? Also, at the end of the day, I think I would have to take the same qualifying exams and dissertation defense as full-time students right? Rutgers definitely offers a part-time Ph.D. program and their full-time program is well-reputed.
    – Aditya
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 6:09
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    In my field they are very different in purpose and quality. Looking at the NYU website, I don’t think they even offer part-time. It looks like Rutgers may, but it is certainly rare for a reseach-oriented program to do so.
    – Dawn
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 6:15
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    @Aditya I got curious and looked at Rutgers CS's website. I did not see any part-time option. The classes, seminars, colloquiua, etc. are all likely to be scheduled during ordinary working hours. They even have an "in house residence" requirement. It sounds as if you have first-hand knowledge which I don't, but unfortunately I suspect that what you're looking for may be difficult or impossible. Good luck.
    – academic
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 9:45

2 Answers 2

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Who should I talk to?

You should start applying to PhD programs. You probably missed the deadline for many programs if you’re thinking of starting in the fall though.

How should I approach a potential professor whose research group I am interested in joining?

A short email letting them know your situation and your interests should be sufficient. Be prepared to be ignored though, or getting short, curt answers.

What are the chances that they will indulge me and invite me over to talk in person. Is there even the remotest chance that I can get a part-time CS Ph.D. Admit or am I just wasting my time?

It’s hard to say, that really depends on your CV, your capability to convey your interest in a compelling and succinct manner and many factors beyond your control. I’d say that a masters from Rutgers is a pretty good step in the right direction, though a low GPA is not a good signal.

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  • Basically, there are just two colleges near my house, where I can attempt to do a part-time Ph.D. Rutgers and NYU. Up until this point I have never even considered applying to NYU, but all things taken into consideration, NYU is closer to me. Would it be easier to get a Ph.D Admit in Rutgers than NYU, since I already have a degree from Rutgers?
    – Aditya
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 6:02
  • Like if I were to apply to NYU, I think I would have to retake my GRE. Maybe Rutgers wouldn't ask me for LORs, but NYU would definitely ask me I assume.
    – Aditya
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 6:24
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Since your CS MS is done you should try to find a program without much course requirements, preferably your same institution.

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