Computer Science Canada

Masters degree acceptance, specifically in AI?

Author:  roland2323 [ Sat Sep 19, 2015 12:54 am ]
Post subject:  Masters degree acceptance, specifically in AI?

I'm graduating this year (April 2016) and I'm applying to grad schools now for the September 2016 term. I really like AI as a general domain, and would like to pursue it in my masters, although this doesn't necessarily mean it's the only thing I find interesting enough to research.

Does anybody know about the quality of the CS departments in AI oriented fields in Canada? I've heard mixed reviews from many, including professors from multiple universities.

As it stands, I had intended on narrowing my list down to 4 or 5 of the following:


But I've heard good things regarding University of Alberta, as well as Dalhousie. What information do you guys have regarding the general quality of research in these schools?

Also, as a more general topic for some of the more prestigious schools in the above list, what would it normally take to be a strong candidate for acceptance? I understand UofT takes ~0.5% of the applicants. What grades would you need + extracurriculars and projects to really stand out in a school this competitive?[/b]

Author:  Dan [ Sat Sep 19, 2015 7:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Masters degree acceptance, specifically in AI?

For grad school it's not so much about the quality and reputation of the University as it is about the supervising faculty members in the department. You should look through the CS faculty list for each university you listed and check the following:

    1. Are they accepting graduate students?
    2. Do their research interests match your own?
    3. What is their publication record like? Are they actively publishing in a field you like?
    4. Are they a new professor? Are they close to retirement? Or are they somewhere in between? (All of these have trade offs).

Once you find a few professors you like, you should contact them via e-mail to see if they are interested in supervising you. It would be a good idea to include your resume, your own research interests and an explanation as to why you want to work with them. Do not send a form letter, make sure to personalize the e-mail to each professor.

Graduate school admissions are very different from undergrad admissions. The faculty members have a very large say in grad admissions and if you have met with one previously and discussed potentially working with them you are FAR FAR FAR more likely to get accepted assuming you meet the minimum requirements.

Some of the things they will be looking for:

  • Did you have acceptable grades in your undergrad program.
  • Are the courses you took in your undergrad appropriate for the field you wish to study (depth requirement). Do they cover the basic CS topics (breadth requirement).
  • The length of your undergrad degree (i.e. was it honors or not).
  • Do you have good communication skills.
  • Do you show a genuine interest in a suitable research topic or field.
  • Do you have outside funding (e.g. NSERC). What is your potential to get outside funding if you become a grad student here.
  • Did you do anything research related as an undergrad.

I am currently a CS graduate student at Western and I would be glad to answer any questions you might have about our department.

TL;DR: You should not be narrowing down a list of potential schools, you should be narrowing down a list of potential supervisors.