Applying to Stanford’s MSCS Program

I was admitted to and began Stanford’s MS in Computer Science (MSCS) program in Fall 2018.

Some people have asked for advice on applying. In this post, I present some of my thoughts on applying and resources that I found useful. Not necessarily in order:

  1. Learn about the program. It’s 2 years. Research is optional. Be ready to either pay a lot of money or get a Teaching or Research Assistantship. Read the entire FAQs https://cs.stanford.edu/academics/prospective-masters/faq
  2. Compare the Stanford MSCS to other programs. Either PhD, MS, or MEng programs at other schools. In terms of MS specifically, two similar caliber/intensity programs are Berkeley’s MS (not the M.Eng) and Princeton’s MS.
  3. Consider what CS classes you would actually take at Stanford. https://cs.stanford.edu/academics/courses
  4. Learn about the CS research groups at Stanford. If you are seriously interested in doing research, email professors whom you are interested in potentially working with.
  5. Read this guide! I found it immensely insightful. https://nlp.stanford.edu/~rkarthik/DAGAP.pdf
  6. Explicitly decide whether you want to attend Stanford’s MSCS program. Commit to yourself to give it your best effort.
  7. If still in your control, do what you can to achieve a high GPA and GRE score. The article linked above has some good context for these. Unless you’ve gotten a perfect score or really don’t have the time, study and try again.
  8. Using what you learned in 1–5, carefully write your statement of purpose. Start *early* and have as many people as you can read it and give feedback.
  9. When asking for recommendation letters, give your recommender the most information possible to help them write a great letter (e.g. your resume, your statement of purpose).
  10. If you’ve made it this far, you are a step ahead of many other applicants and the odds are in your favor :)

Good luck in the journey!

Co-founder of Lumos. Stanford MSCS ’20. https://www.linkedin.com/in/leomehr/