Get into elite grad school?

what would you try to have?

let's say you're trying to get into a world-class Master's program for Information Security.

Obviously, GPA is important.

you probably also want formal research to show off, or practical projects.

anything else that is useful to have for grad school?

Where I went, the department administrators do the first screen. They screen purely on GPA and institution.

After that, it is a mix of research (aka recommendations), GPA+institution, GRE and/or TOEFL, and essay. Research (recommendations) and GPA+institution count the most, GRE small weight, essay even less. Not too many people have lots of papers in undergrad, so that is why research and recommendations are almost the same.

If you have an opportunity to get a good req from a well-known person, this can help a lot. This may be tougher in security, which is a less-mature field than Chemistry or Physics.

For a Master's, it may be different depending on if you do research.

Amusing note: To my knowledge, the funniest essay that they ever received was the guy writing it as a fake Barbara Walters interview of himself. He got in.

ttt for Andrew

Recommendations are the most important thing. Try to get some research or independent study so a prof or two gets to know you and your aptitude well. You need 3 recommendations, so make sure you develop at least 3 relationships if you can. If you have one good one where the person knows your skills well, and then two other ones where you just got a good grade in their class but they don't know you that well, that's okay.

GRE doesn't matter that much, as long as you're above some certain screening level, which you can usually find on the individual schools' websites.

The first thing you should do is just look at the websites for all the schools you're interested in and check out their application sites, and what stuff is required for each. Also, many of them will require the computer science GRE, which is very hard. Take a look at the practice test from the GRE site now, and make sure you take all the courses that will be required. I skipped some compiler and formal language stuff and it hurt me on that test.

Just to add: I was Andrew's case. 1 stellar rec, 2 OK recs, 3.45 GPA. 90-99th percentile on regular GRE, but 30th percentile on Chem GRE. Got into all places I applied.

Whoa, there's CS GRE! Crazy shit. I've gotta see a study guide for that.

thanks guys.


I know when I did my masters (Minor in Security) they didnt require the GMAT and such since it wasnt a management degree but the school now offers an MSIA which requires 1 cert and verifiable work xp, at least 2 years.

umm frat...

ttt this tomorrow and I will try to give you a good response.

OK, this looks like a professional Master's degree, as opposed to a research Master's.

professional Masters CS degrees vary quite wildly in quality. Some are equally as hard as a research Master's, just with a practical focus, while others are basically CS degrees for someone who is trying to do CS/programming stuff without having a BS in CS, and needs to get up to speed. These degrees are generally not as hard as completing a Bachelor's in CS, since they only last 1 or two years.

you need to figure out where you want to go in security. Do you want to be a network security guy? Do you want to be a software security guy? Good network security guys understand some software security, while good software security guys should understand networking as well.

If you want to do network security, I don't think the listed courses are bad at all. For software security, I don't think they are enough.

try to get into the best program you can. Realize that if you want to be really good, you'll need to do independent research and experimentation.

damn, my head hurts from no sleep.

ttt for Yao, he is the guy with the Master's in security.

yeah, I meant to suggest talking to Andrew. his Master's is from CMU, which Top 3 or Top 5 CS in the U.S.

I agree that that program sounds very introductory, like it's intended for someone who's interested in 50% or more management/policy. It doesn't sound like there's any haxoring whatsoever. It depends on what you want. If you're looking for just enough security to be able to make policy decisions, then it would probably be good. If you're looking to be very technical then it would be a bad fit.