Ph.D from Ivy league

Credit Karma 🐨Koala
Oct 30 48 Comments

I recently got into AWS and going for Google soon. However, I am more inclined towards Ph.D (after few years of work experience).
Any tips on getting into Ivy league for Computer Science Ph.D?
Which Ivy league would be easiest to get into? I am confident I can score 330+ in GRE and get good recommendation letters. My GPA is good but I don't have a stellar university either for BS or MS or prior research experience.

How should I prepare to get into Ivy league for Ph.D? I am ready to undertake multi-year effort to build my profile to get into some Ivy for Ph.D

Edit 1: self-driving ML (took a course related to this in UG)
Distributed systems (did assistant-ship in Master's).
Interested in these 2 fields.
However, more inclined towards ML.
Reason is not just salary - not happy with climbing the corporate ladder. I think I will be happy in academics even with lesser pay.

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TOP 48 Comments
  • New llIIl
    Top schools prefer people freshly out of undergrad or Masters because they want to work you to death.

    If you're older or have a family, you'll likely produce fewer papers for your advisor. As a result, you'll have a harder time gaining admission. Do the PhD sooner, rather than later.
    Oct 30 17
    • Google fodswb
      I had multiple first author publications in top ML conferences, very strong letters of recommendation, perfect GRE scores, and went to one of those top schools for my bachelors/masters.

      For what it's worth, I think that I had a much better shot getting in at this stage, as I was able to publish stronger work in a top industry lab, which resulted in stronger letters. Those are the two factors that matter most to admissions committees as far as I can tell.
      Oct 30
    • New / R&D tonyperkin
      There you have it, literally just be an ideal candidate like @fodswb and your age won't matter.

      I wonder if subjects like pure math or theoretical physics are more difficult to get into after a gap
      Oct 31
    • Google fodswb
      ML is extremely competitive right now, so if age doesn't matter in this case, then I doubt it would matter in any field.
      Oct 31
    • New llIIl
      Statistically, if you are over 30, your chances of PhD admission are slim. One person being admitted doesn't change this.

      fodswb, link us just 1 or 2 lab webpages where you have multiple students over 30. Doesn't have to be your lab/school.

      For anyone else reading, don't believe us? Walk around your local university's CS/AI department and tell me how many students over age 30 you see in the offices.
      Oct 31
    • Google fodswb
      It's hard to say as I don't how old most of my labmates are. People generally assume that I am 22-24 even though I am actually 33, so it's very possible that I am doing the same with others... Maybe everyone in my program is secretly 40.

      Also, I don't feel any particular need to *prove* that doing a PhD after 30 is normal, as clearly it is not. However, I'm guessing that it's mostly that people don't choose to do a PhD after working for so long, rather than that they can't. But who knows. All I know is that grad schools actually seemed to appreciate my experience.
      Oct 31
  • New / R&D oopsies
    What interests you about the PhD? It's very important to love what you do and the search for knowledge. If you persue a PhD for the hope of higher salary, you will hate it.
    Oct 30 3
    • Credit Karma 🐨Koala
      OP
      Not higher salary. Knowledge purpose and self-driving ML interests me the most
      Oct 30
    • New / R&D oopsies
      That sounds good. The important thing is that you find a great lab doing work in your desired field. That area is quite broad, so I recommend exploring the literature and reaching out to labs. You will want a professor to be advocating for you if you plan to apply.
      Oct 30
    • Rakuten / Ops
      tooQ10

      Rakuten Ops

      PRE
      Rakuten USA
      BIO
      Obligatory: YoE 20, TC 41k. Such is life for us non-SWE office monkeys!
      tooQ10more
      Seconding. I went for a PhD in linguistics in full knowledge that it would not help my TC; it was because (1) I loved the field, and (2) it would be am escape hatch in case I couldn't stand my job anymore.

      I ended up finishing the PhD but staying at my low-TC job. I take far more pride in the papers I published than in the TPS reports I file at work every day 😅
      Oct 31
  • Snapchat 🐨 koala
    Strong reference + good PS. Email professors to show your passion and your past achievements. Choose best program/professor instead of school. Hurry up if you want to do it this year - deadlines are coming
    Oct 30 9
    • Snapchat 🐨 koala
      What's self driving research... Robotics? CV/ML?
      Oct 30
    • Credit Karma 🐨Koala
      OP
      CV/Human interaction.
      Not interested in going on hardware side
      Oct 30
    • Snapchat 🐨 koala
      CMU is good. Keep that on your list
      Oct 30
    • Credit Karma 🐨Koala
      OP
      Cool. I thought CMU was famous for robotics, I didn't knew it had strong CV program. Thanks, will check it out
      Oct 30
    • Snapchat 🐨 koala
      It's under robotics. CI2CV. Also their HCI is good
      Oct 30
  • Snapchat 🐨 koala
    🍿what's the area you want to do research on? Not all ivy league have top phd program for CS.
    Oct 30 0
  • Rubrik Wckx74
    Why ivy league? Not all Ivy league school has the top CS ph.d program
    Oct 30 7
    • Credit Karma 🐨Koala
      OP
      Ohh that's a good advice. I will try to find a professor.
      Yeah I know Ivy are only 8. I didn't meant Ivy exactly, I meant top schools like Stanford, Georgia Tech, UC Berkeley etc.
      Professors help getting funding more than Ivy/top universities in your opinion? Sorry I am pretty new to this so maybe a dumb question
      Oct 30
    • Snapchat 🐨 koala
      bezos gets it. Professor/program so much more important than name of school
      Oct 30
    • Amazon real_bezos
      Yes, professors help get funding. Plus professors associate themselves with companies like Microsoft Research or NASA and they get funded from them. That matters the most.

      Don’t worry about being dumb. Everyone has to start somewhere. Ask any question relating to PhD.
      Oct 30
    • Credit Karma 🐨Koala
      OP
      @real_bezos thanks.
      If I don't have a strong research experience, how do I start building it somehow so I can be ready to apply for Ph.D? What's a good way to build strong profile for Ph.D?
      Oct 30
    • Amazon real_bezos
      Publish a paper or two. DM if you need advice. Publishing papers is a strong way.
      Oct 30
  • New PFjv17
    Which research area? (I went to a top-3 school for an ML/CV focused PhD)
    Oct 30 4
    • Credit Karma 🐨Koala
      OP
      I want to try for Self-driving cars ML research
      Oct 30
    • Zoox / Eng streetfood
      Best SDC research is going on in industry right now.
      Oct 30
    • New PFjv17
      Others might disagree, but this is my take...

      Letters of recommendation from people with connections to the admissions committee (i.e. faculty at the school you're applying to) are crucial; these letters need to come from university faculty (can't be someone with a PhD somewhere else) and they need to have supervised you during a research project. Published papers are also hugely helpful (even if you're not there first author). It's important to do well enough on the GRE to avoid being screened out, but acing it isn't going to help.

      If I were you, I would find a professor at the best possible research university that you can and get some research experience. For you, that might mean doing a research focused masters degree. That professor will be able to write you a letter of recommendation and you might get a paper out of it too. Basically everyone in the PhD program I was in had prior research experience and a letter of recommendation from a professor at a top-50 program (and usually a top-4 school).
      Oct 30
    • New PFjv17
      Zoox is right about SDC research too
      Oct 30
  • Credit Karma 🐨Koala
    OP
    Edited and added research areas interest
    Oct 30 0
  • Reliable Software / Eng Sugoidesu
    I want to know the answer as well. But more importantly have you decided your specialization interest? I cannot figure out what I like in math or computer science to even think about phd
    Oct 30 0

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