Previously, I wrote an article on GRE and TOEFL preparation. This is my second blogpost on graduate school admissions. I have tried to compile all the online resources I used to prepare my graduate school application.
Most of this advice is written by professors or senior PhD students, and is focused towards PhD applicants. Several webpages shared in this blog contain a wide-spectrum of advice articles, many of which are relevant to undergraduates and graduate school applicants.

Students’ Perspective on Grad School Applications - Most recently, we have surveyed twelve recent NLP PhD applicants on their experience while applying to graduate school. Unlike the remainder of this article, this article was written by young PhD students who applied to graduate school in the last 3 years. Check it out here!

PhD Application Guides

  • Mor Harchol Balter’s Guide - An excellent but slightly out-dated guide on writing good PhD applications by a CMU professor. This is a very comprehensive article which starts with the pros and cons of a PhD degree, moves to the application process and ends with some advice on choosing the correct graduate program.

  • Philip Guo’s Five-Minute Guide - A short guide describing the initial screening process during PhD admissions. Lots of interesting videos / articles in the “related pages” section at the end of the guide. You might find the Statements of Purpose linked in this article useful. Philip Guo also has a Vlog on finding computer science PhD programs to apply to using CSRankings.

  • Philip Guo’s Older Guide - A more comprehensive article listing the best strategies to maximize your chances of selection. This was written while Philip Guo was still a graduate student.

  • Himabindu Lakkaraju and Aditya Grover’s Panel on ML PhD applications in USA, conducted in November 2020.The panel includes several faculty including Tatsu Hashimoto (Stanford), Rada Mihalcea (UMichigan), Devi Parikh (Georgia Tech), Sameer Singh (UC Irvine), and James Zou (Stanford).

  • Jean Yang’s Guide - A seven-part comprehensive article on the whole PhD admission process. Jean Yang’s Statement of Purpose is very well-written, and helped me considerably. This guide also contains details about what to look for during visit days.

  • Jason Eisner’s Guide for JHU / CLSP - A very nice article on graduate admission process, with a focus on JHU admissions into the Center for Language and Speech Processing (CLSP) (a top research group for prospective NLP / Speech students). This article contains an important section on school rankings (and why they should be taken with a grain of salt). Prof. Jason Eisner has written several excellent advice articles here, some of which are relevant to graduate school admissions. He is also quite active on Quora.

    CLSP has also written a broader PhD admission FAQ here.

  • CMU LTI Admission Guide - This Quora answer by Scott Fahlman is very specific to to MLT / PhD admissions at LTI (Language Technologies Institute) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). There is another answer by Alex Rudnicky here. Scott Fahlman has written several interesting Quora answers on NLP and academica-related topics here.

    Finally, here is an article by Danish Pruthi discussing the conversion statistics from an MLT degree to a PhD degree, an important question many NLP PhD candidates have.

  • Matthew Might’s Guide - An excellent blog focussing on the importance of good recommendation letters and prior research experience (preferrably publications). Has some nice examples of accepted and rejected applications towards the end. Matthew Might has written many comprehensive advice articles (see “Related posts”) on sending emails, doing research etc. One celebrated article (rather, a collection of pictures) is An Illustrated Guide to A PhD. He also has an article on asking for a recommendation letter.

  • David Evan’s Guide for Writing Emails - A popular article on the optimal strategy to emailing prospective PhD advisors. A must-read if you are planning to send out emails to professors.

  • Micheal Ernst’s Guide - You can see all the advice articles written by Micheal Ernst here.

  • Justine Sherry’s Guide - A University of Washington CSE student’s guide on graduate school applications. A bit specific to UW.

  • Christopher Fletcher’s Guide on Personal Statements - This guide includes his personal statements as well. He has shared some more advice articles here.

  • Noah Smith’s Advice (Internet Archive link) - A post-selection article summing up the factors one should consider while choosing between graduate schools. This article advises against using college rankings and focusing on the prospective advisors instead. Noah Smith has also written some advice for undergraduates considering graduate school here. Noah Smith also has a newer article (November 2020), an FAQ for PhD applications.

  • Tim Dettmers’ Guide on Successful PhD applications (Internet Archive link) - A new guide by a successful 2017-18 PhD applicant in natural language processing. Has some interesting statistics on the track record of people selected at top PhD programs.

  • Tim Dettmers’ Guide on choosing a graduate school - An excellent guide on the thought process involved while choosing a graduate school after receiving admits. Tim Dettmers also wrote an older post on this topic.

  • Vijay Chidambaram’s Tweet - A detailed tweet on best practices while writing SOPs. He also has an article on choosing the right graduate school.

  • Mark Corner’s Admission Notes on requirements and common mistakes made by international students applying for PhD programs in USA.

  • Andreas Madsen’s Experience on becoming an independent researcher. While this is not a strict application guide, it talks about the competitive nature of today’s PhD admission process in machine learning, and the steps he took to become an independent researcher.

  • Nathan Schneider’s guide on writing better statements of purpose.

  • Alex Tamkin’s Twitter thread on different types of advisors, tradeoffs, and what prospective PhD applicants should be looking for.

  • Andrew Kuznetsov’s guide on “what do I ask/look for” in a PhD Advisor. A more comprehensive version of this article (with inputs from several PhD students at CMU) can be found here.

  • Gautam Kamath’s article on asking for letters of recommendation.

  • Suchin Gururangan’s guide on writing effective personal statements.

  • Shriram Krishnamurthi’s video guide on applying for PhD programs in USA.

  • Jeff Huang’s collection of useful data (like PhD stipends, professor lists, best paper award lists) while applying to PhD programs.

  • Swapneel Metha’s article on writing better statements of purpose.

  • Rishi Bommasani’s twitter thread on applying for CS PhD programs.

MS Application Guides

  • Karthik Raghunathan’s Guide - An article describing the admission process in Stanford’s MS in Computer Science program. This article after his own experience reviewing applications in the Stanford admission committee. It gives a nice idea about what application reviewers are looking for.

  • Shriram Krishnamurthi’s article on financial aid in computer science master’s programs.

  • Danish Pruthi and Mansi Gupta’s article on why university ranking is not as important as other factors (like match with advisor / lab) while choosing between graduate programs.

PhD Experiences

  • Philip Guo’s Experience (PhD Grind) - A first hand account of Phillip Guo’s experience completing a PhD in Computer Science. This article describes (in utmost detail) the highs and lows during a PhD in Computer Science, and ends with a few reasons describing why a PhD might be worth it. A must-read if you are confused between an MS and a PhD.

  • Jean Yang’s Experience

PhD Advice

These articles are guides for having a more successful PhD (after joining a PhD program).

Research Advice

These articles are more general pieces of advice to have a more impactful research career.