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I have a bachelor's degree in computer science. I am looking for an appropriate master program. I am interested in algorithms.

My question is not about where I should continue my education. My question is about how exactly should I search for the place to study for my master's degree. I simply don't know where should I start. I don't know what my first step should be. I don't have any experience living abroad.

Right now in order to choose the place I consider just few parameters.

  1. I am interested in algorithms, almost every university that offers master degree in computer science would be an appropriate choice.

  2. Fee. It's really a problem. I didn't find universities in Europe that offer master's degree study for free, few of them offer applying for scholarship. But I am not sure I have a good chance to get one, and obviously it doesn't cover all fee. I don't have citizenship in a European country so I assume it's going to be harder to apply.

What's your experience? Did you try to apply to scholarship? What's your opinion? Can I start doing research and hope for funds.

In Canada there are few places without fee, therefore it should be very competitive, but at least there is a chance. Usually they ask for GRE in mathematics and computer science; sometimes for IELTS. What's your opinion? I assume you should be really perfect in your field in order to get applied.

In China, very interesting option, without fee or with minimal fee plus one year to get a new language. It looks very attractive, especially with approach of Chinese government to education, as I know there are many programs for free. The only problem is to get the minimal communication in Chinese which may take up to a year according to experience of others.

Addendum:

According to responses I decided to update my post.

I earned my bachelor degree 3 years ago, I have a good job, and I work as a programmer. Throughout the last year I am taking courses of master degree in my domestic university. I have one day off in week for studies. Three years is a long break but I feel the power is back. In my place it's not common that employer will pay for studies, of course I have some savings but this is not going to cover fee, and all spendings for at least two years.

I would like to go to research master. Right now I am not ready to get good grade at GRE, but I am working on it. I am not fluent in English, but in my opinion more important to be good in my field of study.

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The reason why you're not seeing scholarships for study at the master's level in Europe is that the master's degree is not viewed as the prerequisite for PhD study, but instead as the direct continuation of the bachelor's degree. As a result, you're expected to move on to the master's program, and usually at the same location you did your bachelor's degree. That means there really isn't a call for a lot of scholarship to fund master's study. However, it is possible to finance one's stay in a European university, as many schools offer part-time positions for master's students working in a research group for some number of hours per week.

However, in the US and several other countries, gaining admission to a PhD program is a good way to get your master's studies funded, as the funding is normally provided for the entirety of your graduate tenure, rather than just the PhD portion.

To get in to most programs in English-speaking countries, you will need to show evidence of a good scholastic record as well as good English skills, as evidenced by the IELTS or TOEFL. If those aren't in place, it's going to be very difficult for you to be competitive, and almost impossible to be competitive for a scholarship or fellowship.

  • the PhD route seems very appropriate, I'll take a look – com Feb 29 '12 at 14:07
  • how much do I have to get in IELTS or TOEFL to be good enough? – Alex Sifuentes Aug 17 '15 at 1:23
  • @AlexandroSifuentesDíaz: Obviously the higher the score the better, but you'll need to check with each school you want to apply to, as they may have different minimum requirements on testing. – aeismail Aug 17 '15 at 9:35
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There is no such thing as free lunch. If some university is offerring ou free tuition they want something from you. Mostly in the form of research. So PhD has a very high chance of getting a scholarship unlike Masters just because they know you are going to just study and not primarily do research.

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    Another option that I've heard people doing but I wouldn't recommend is applying for a PhD with funding and get out when you get your Masters. – aruva arumugam Feb 29 '12 at 13:12
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This can only be answered backwards, by asking what you hope to get out of the study. You state you want a masters degree... masters are typically used to get a job in industry, and scholarships can be difficult to obtain. You will typically have to pay in order to go this route. There are some graduate programs that offer research masters (at least in engineering), but (1) I'm not sure how prevalent this is in comp sci, and (2) you'll be adding on at least a year to your degree in order for you to complete the research.

If you are looking for a masters so that you can move to industry, your best bet would probably be to look for jobs now, work a year or two, and then have your work pay for your masters. Many workplaces offer education benefits, and this can be a very nice way to further your education while not paying for the degree.

If you're looking for research, consider going the PhD route, which would open up possibilities for stipends.

  • I've updated the post, the research master seems very appropriate, actually I do want to continue to PhD route. – com Feb 29 '12 at 14:05
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    The statement masters are typically used to get a job in industry is true for US and perhaps other countries, but not in general. However, in the continental Europe, masters is usually bundled within undergraduate studies (so you need to have one before applying for PhD studies there). See also meta.academia.stackexchange.com/questions/58/… – Piotr Migdal Feb 29 '12 at 18:55
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    To complement Piotr's comment, in some places such as France, there are actually two explicit kind of Masters: those for industry (with which it will be hard to get a PhD) and those for research (with which it will be hard to get a job in industry). – user102 Mar 6 '12 at 21:06
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You should consider France. The second year of the master program is roughly the 1st (or 2nd ?) year of a PhD program in the US. You are not paid during this year, but you are during the next step : the PhD, and it is so during 3 years.

Now, if you are already a skilled programmer, you can apply for a short term (1 year) contractual position in a research project in a french university. During this same year you graduate from the master program, then you go straight into the PhD program.

Of course, this requires that you are attractive (scientifically speaking) since this is not the usual way of entering into a PhD program.

PS : I said France, but you can probably do that in many others countries.

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    I was wondering: do you know if the fees for a Master or a PhD are the same for EU and non-EU students? I know there is a difference in the UK, but I don't know for France. – user102 Mar 10 '12 at 21:54
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    The fee is supposed to be the same for everybody, and in 2011-2012 this is around 250 euros for a year. However, in some "grandes écoles" (business schools mainly) this is a completely different story. And some universities have specific curriculum for foreign students, that are more expensive. I forgot to mention that you should add 200 euros for the health insurance. – Sylvain Peyronnet Mar 10 '12 at 22:18
  • In my experience, universities are much cheaper in France than they are in the United States. So if the OP is coming from the US (like me), then 250 euros for a year of tuition is about 1/20 of what you (generally) pay in the US. My level of French is high enough to directly enroll; I don't know about the OP's... so that may have an impact on the cost as you said. – Chris Cirefice May 27 '14 at 17:34
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I can't comment on the solution posted by @Sunil. I disagree with him. You should never do that. You are depriving others of a position who really want to do Ph.D. You should follow that Ph.D. route only if you really want and absolutely positive that you want to do the research, otherwise, you should not do it.

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    I think that Sunil is actually not recommending this solution, but only mention that some people do that. – user102 Mar 6 '12 at 21:07
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In Canada a research Masters generally comes with financial support. There are tuition and other fees, but the support generally exceeds the fees and should also cover basic living expenses. Naturally it is quite competitive to get a position, and if you get one, you are expected to work hard to earn your degree. If you are interested in going further, a research masters can be a stepping stone to PhD work.

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