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I have a master's in mechanical engineering from a pretty decent college in my country with a GPA of 7.9/10. I'd like to know what constitutes a good application to a Master's program in CS (ML, to be precise) and how I must choose my Universities that are safe and in those I have a chance.

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    What country is yours, and what countries are you planning on applying in? – Bill Barth Jun 22 '14 at 18:46
  • Sorry about the late response. I am from India. I am planning to apply to USA, Canada and Germany. – Akshay Rangasai Jul 6 '14 at 14:54
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Overall, your MS in ME will be viewed positively when you apply for MS in CS with Machine Learning specialization. What will matter most are how many computer science courses you have taken (and grades you received) and how many relevant math classes you have taken -- calculus, probability & statistics, linear algebra, numerical methods, optimization. The project work you have done in simulations could be very relevant and helpful, too, if the software you wrote was something more than procedural programming or deterministic simulation.

In your Statement of Purpose, it would be to your advantage to make a strong link between your ME education and work experience and your goals in CS-ML. Are there applications or problems that arise in ME that you want to address with ML methods? Are there particular methods of optimization or classification that you've encountered in ME that you want to explore further in other settings?

Regarding what schools to which you might apply: I would suggest that you aim at CS departments that are part of an institution with a strong "engineering" culture or focus. In the US there are many colleges, universities, and institutes that have an engineering focus, including the Polytechnics, Case Western Reserve, Harvey Mudd, Carnegie-Mellon, and many others. In contrast, the CS departments at Yale, Harvard, etc. have less orientation toward engineering.

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One thing that stands out in your question is your mechanical engineering background. That suggest a leaning toward more "theoretical," and less "applied" areas of computer science.

Computer science programs come in many varieties, and in your shoes, I would give the most weight to the ones "heavily oriented toward theory and simulations." Those are probably the "safest" and "best chances" for you.

Note: I have amended my original response based on comments below.

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  • Mechanical is not necessarily a hardware thing. My projects have all been heavily oriented towards theory and simulations. I'd go as far as saying my "hardware" knowledge is quite limited. – Akshay Rangasai Jul 6 '14 at 14:55
  • @AkshayRangasai: In that case, I would give the greatest weight to CS programs "heavily oriented toward theory and simulations." Those are probably the "safest" and "best chances" for you. – Tom Au Jul 6 '14 at 14:57

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