02 March 2011

Grad school survey, revisited

You may recall a while ago I ran a survey on where people applied to grad school. Obviously I've been sitting on these results for a while now, but I figured since it's that time of year when people are choosing grad schools, that I would say how things turned out.  Here's a summary of things that people thought were most important (deciding factor), and moderately important (contributing factor, in parens):
  • Academic Program
    • Specialty degree programs in my research area, 48%
    • (Availability of interesting courses, 16%)
    • (Time to completion, 4%)
  • Application Process
    • Nothing 
  • Faculty Member(s)
    • Read research papers by faculty member, 44%
  • Geographic Area
    • (Outside interests/personal preference, 15%)
  • Recommendations from People 
    • Professors in technical area, 45%
    • (Teachers/academic advisors, 32%)
    • (Technical colleagues, 20%)
  • Reputation
    • ... of research group, 61%
    • ... of department/college, 50%
    • (Ranking of university, 35%)
    • (Reputation of university, 34%)
  • Research Group
    • Research group works on interesting problems, 55%
    • Many faculty in a specialty area (eg., ML), 44%
    • (Many faculty/students in general area (eg., AI), 33%)
    • (Research group publishes a lot, 26%)
  • Web Presence
    • (Learned about group via web search, 37%)
    • (Learned about dept/univ via web search, 24%)
  • General
    • Funding availability, 49%
    • (High likelihood of being accepted, 12%)
    • (Size of dept/university, 5%)
Overall these seem pretty reasonable.  And of course they all point to the fact that everyone should come to Maryland :P.  Except for the fact that we don't have specialty degree programs, but that's the one thing on the list that I actually think is a bit silly: it might make sense for MS, but I don't really think it should be an important consideration for Ph.D.s.  You can get the full results if you want to read them and the comments: they're pretty interesting, IMO.


  1. Thanks for sharing the results. It looks like my choice to apply at UMD was a good one and had strong reasons.

  2. What was the sample size? Do you also have some demographical information, i.e., were the participants mostly from US? I assume you might have these numbers in your linked pdf but for some reason I am not being able to open it.


  3. @avishek: i fixed the link. the basic demographics are:

    84% applied in 2000 or later
    80% are ml or nlp
    86% are male
    62% did their UG in north america
    73% went to grad school in north america
    50% went directly from UG to grad

  4. I wish the survey had asked what schools for NLP they were applying to -- it's interesting, I think, to see which schools are the most popular for those who are set on NLP/CL.

  5. Interesting! Well... Still Maryland is a "weird" department in Chinese Students' eyes...