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US News and World only ranks about 100 graduate programs in computer science 300 research universities in the US. How do graduate programs of small and/or unranked universities attract graduate students?

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    Perhaps more students want to go to grad school than those 100 programs can accommodate? Just because you want to go to a top 10 program doesn't mean that you are qualified for them. Further, perhaps a non-top-100 program is strong in the area you are interested in. How do undergraduates end up at colleges not in the top 100 (or 1000) rankings? – Jon Custer Jul 6 '15 at 19:12
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    I guess you are talking about the US here? You should say so specifically, because for other regions the answer will be entirely different. – xLeitix Jul 6 '15 at 19:35
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    @xLeitix I very much doubt they'll be entirely different. – Peter K. Jul 6 '15 at 20:20
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    I believe for many people location is the most important factor. I'd say 70 to 90 percent of graduate students at the two universities in my city, both of which are unranked, are from the surrounding area (within 200 miles). – user20284 Jul 6 '15 at 22:19
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    This question seems to presume that there are a shortage of students, which just isn't the case. With a surplus of demand (students) the beat schools take the students they want, and everyone else trickles down. Until there is more than one slot per applicant, there is no need to "attract" them. – The Pompitous of Love Jul 6 '15 at 22:19
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  1. Not everyone has the GPA / research experience to be accepted to those top 100 Universities.

  2. Not everyone is confident enough to apply to those top universities and they feel more comfortable going somewhere closer to home.

  3. Many students have constraints making relocation impossible (e.g., cultural obligations to their family where they cannot move more than 10 miles from their parents), so they go to graduate school in the closest program they can.

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    While I agree with these, I don't think this answers the question. The question is specifically about how these places attract graduate students. – Bitwise Jul 9 '15 at 0:44
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I would think it is a matter of differentiating your department from those at other universities in ways that you are capable of. Perhaps you don't have the reputation and resources to compete with large programs, but are there other areas that make you unique? What makes your program special? What does your department/university/locale offer that is different than other places? Is it a particular sub-specialty? Specific industry-contacts? Killer internships?

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