I'm an undergraduate student at a top CS school who is looking to apply for my Master's soon (in about a year or so). I am applying to my school's 5 year masters program as a backup, but I would prefer to switch schools just to get a different experience.

My first question has to do with the acceptance rates of various CS Masters degree programs. I found that it was very difficult to search for the acceptance rates for various schools that I am interested in. Some of those schools include Yale, Berkeley, Stanford, and CalTech. However, I was unable to find acceptance rates for any of these schools. Could someone point me to a resource that I could use, or just give me the acceptance rates? Also, are there any "underrated" schools that I should be aware of (and by underrated, I mean high acceptance rates and good departments)?

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  • I'd recommend looking at the U.S. & World Report graduate school rankings (you have to pay for access). At top schools there is probably not too much difference in the qualifications required for prospective MS or PhD students when choosing among applications. – Gabriel Southern Nov 25 '14 at 0:26
  • Professional masters or research masters? – JeffE Dec 25 '14 at 5:29

I suspect that most programs do not post their acceptance rates at the master's level. That's in part because they could be subject to wild fluctuations from year to year, as the number of applications change.

In particular, one other thing to consider: most graduate programs have a target of incoming students they want to enroll. They will generally admit only as many students as they feel they need to reach the goal. If students are accepting offers at higher-than-expected rates, they may lower the admit rate in subsequent years to compensate. Similarly, if they are under their target, they may admit a larger than expected pool.

Considering top-tier schools, my suspicion (although I don't have the numerical evidence) is that they get enough qualified applications that admissions now are partly a "lottery": if you meet the qualifications of a typical student, you may or may not get in, depending on the needs of the department in that particular year. So just do your best.

  • 1
    do you have any source for any of this? I've also heard masters programs described as cash cows where schools try to stuff them full, which runs opposite this answer. – user18072 Dec 24 '14 at 21:58
  • Depends on the school. Some milk the undergrads, some the grad students, some make each level pay its own way. – keshlam Dec 25 '14 at 5:09

I found this link on Quora. It looks like top 30 programs all have nearly same acceptance rates hovering from 6% to 10%.

When you mean underrated, I understand it as underrated by public and does not trigger 'wow' to public which includes Big Ten schools like Purdue, Penn State, UMichigan, UMaryland, UMadison, and other schools like UCIrvine, UCSanDiego, UTAustin, Georgia Tech etc.

Overrated are Ivy Leagues for sure including Harvard, Columbia and revenue generator masters programs in USC, UPenn, Brown, Johns Hopkins etc. (for CS/IT)

Level (neither underrated nor overrated) are CMU, Stanford, UIUC, MIT, Caltech, Princeton etc.

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