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I've applied to several graduate (MSc) programs overseas, and I've received several acceptance letters. Now I have the problem to select one of those programs. How should I do it? What should I look into each program?

  • No program offers funding, and some programs are elegible for a local scholarship.
  • I can fund some programs with my own money.
  • -1: Isn't the question way to broad? We even know nothing about your country, your discipline or your preferences. And even with that is a very subjective matter... – Piotr Migdal Feb 16 '12 at 15:23
  • Possibly related: academia.stackexchange.com/q/124/79 – TCSGrad Feb 16 '12 at 15:46
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May I ask why you chose an MSc instead of a PhD? What is your career goal? I don't mean to imply one is better than the other. If you are going to spend a lot of money and time, it should be well-spent.

In some places, like the UK, not much more time is needed to get a PhD beyond an MSc. In the U.S., PhD's in the sciences are usually completely funded. Per badp this seems not to be the case in Italy.

For either an MSc or PHD I suggest looking at the career paths of former graduates of that lab. This is something I wish someone had told me when I entered my lab. The charisma of the lab boss or excellence of the equipment are meaningless if, after 2-3 years, you can't move on as you hoped. Trace the career path of the last few graduates - from MSc all the way to how many wanted to and got faculty positions and how long it took them. In my experience what you do is much less important that who you know, which comes from getting into the right environment.

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  • I want to get the PhD, but the MSc is just the first step into the PhD. – Dr. Snoopy Feb 14 '12 at 21:09
  • @Matias: My point was that I don't believe that a Master's must necessarily precede a PhD. Nor, do I even think it is common. I am reasonably sure that this is correct in the U.S. both for people born here and for those who come here to do graduate work. It is true though that many of those coming to the U.S. have other degrees. – mac389 Feb 14 '12 at 21:28
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    @mac389 If you are asking clarifying questions, please post those as comments. There's no need to post not-an-answer as an answer and then edit. This messes with voting and generally isn't how the whole thing is supposed to work. Getting your clarifications and then posting a comprehensive, informed answer is a lot better. Thanks. – Adam Lear Feb 14 '12 at 21:43
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    Even though this answer is posed as a question it is IMO actually a pretty good response. Taking the PhD track is an easy way to circumvent no funding, and for my program there is no commitment to continue with the PhD (although I don't know to what extent this generalizes to other programs). – Andy W Feb 14 '12 at 22:31
  • @mac389 hm... I dunno how it works there, but at least in Italy you can't study for a doctorate without getting a master first. – badp Feb 15 '12 at 22:40
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As you are presumably pursuing this degree so you can eventually work in industry, I would consider the following:

  • Find out which programs are more highly regarded in industry.
  • Consider the success rates of each university in helping their graduates find employment; this can vary significantly from institution to institution.
  • Consider the extra-curricular aspects; what does each program's city have to offer? Programs with ties to local industry may help you obtain some useful internship experience.
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Depending on which country you are talking about, there may be league tables for the universities in that country. While the total ranking can be misleading, they provide useful information such as staff to student ratios -- the higher the ratio, the more opportunity you will have to ask questions.

I would also look at the reputation of the universities in the specific field that you want to do your MSc in, e.g. how many people work in that area and are they well-known (involved in many conferences/journals and similar).

In the end it might boil down to money though, so you should probably look at what you can afford first (not only in terms of tuition, but also living expenses in that area).

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