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I'm currently a third-year student at UC Berkeley studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics. I'm still on the fence regarding whether or not I want to pursue a masters degree, and am quite stressed about my chances if I do pursue that route.

My major concern is my GPA. To give some context, entering my sophomore year, I had about a 3.65. About to enter the spring of my junior year, I'm sitting at about 3.12. It hasn't been that the work has been "too difficult," it's that I honestly didn't put in the necessary effort these last two semester and as a result, received less than satisfactory grades. I've done the math and calculated that if I can average around a 3.8 for my remaining semester, I can get to around a 3.4 cumulative by graduation.

As far as outside the classroom, I've done a little bit, but not much. I did a very small research stint last summer, as well as being an academic intern (basically a tutor), and am working at a small start-up on the side right now. I'll also be doing my first internship this summer (most likely at Visa).

I'm just wondering if anyone could inform me about my chances of getting into a graduate program in CS. I realize that I probably won't be able to get into Stanford, MIT, or a school on the level of my undergraduate institution, but I would still like to go somewhere good (been looking at USC and Purdue).

Has anyone been in a similar situation and have any advice regarding grad work?

  • What is the ultimate purpose of you pursuing a Master's? Research or industry? – Compass Dec 25 '14 at 8:21
  • Honestly not sure. Most likely industry. – Ryan Dec 25 '14 at 8:25
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    If you're going for industry, there are part-time Master's programs in CS for professionals. Here's the description for the program I attended. They're a little easier to get into and are usually completed over a year or two, just coursework. – Compass Dec 25 '14 at 8:27
  • I appreciate that, but I'm looking for feedback as far as getting into normal masters programs. – Ryan Dec 25 '14 at 8:33
  • There are "normal" proffessional masters programs, and there are research masters programs. Which do you want? – JeffE Dec 25 '14 at 19:30
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It's up to you to decide whether to pursue a master degree or going for the industry. However, in case you selected to pursue your master degree I would see no reason to be so pessimistic about your chances. You're currently studying at a prestigious university and that's an important point to consider.

The grades of the last 2 years of bachelor program is so important as you would take most of your specialized courses during the last 2 years of the bachelor program.

Be optimistic and keep up working towards achieving your dreams!

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I can get to around a 3.4 cumulative by graduation.

A 3.4 GPA will not take you out of the running for most masters programs (even at prestigious universities like Stanford or MIT), but you will have to demonstrate research potential.

I did a very small research stint last summer, as well as being an academic intern (basically a tutor)

Continue doing research with faculty as much as possible. You will need 3 letters of recommendation, be sure they all have great things to say about you.

and am working at a small start-up on the side right now.

While its great that you are working, start-up experience will not carry the same weight as research experience for top grad schools.

Depending on your situation, it may make sense to quit this job and focus on undergraduate studies and research. I can't tell you if quitting the job is the right thing to do, but focusing on getting a great GPA and getting research experience will matter.

You'll also have to take the GRE to be admitted to most schools (I think MIT may not require it). Study hard and ace it. A good GRE score will provide a counter-point to your GPA.

Consider casting a wider net. Apply to other good schools besides just Stanford and MIT.

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Yes. You can get into a "good" program with that average. Keep working hard now and continue working hard once you gain access to the masters program. Study hard and do well on any entrance exams.

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