Now that you have determined your values-based approach, it’s time to use them to find your dream AI master’s program.
Finding a School
By far the best CS-specific tool for identifying accredited universities is CSRankings.com. CSRankings ranks universities on how “actively engaged” the faculty members are in conducting research in computer science and related fields. A high ranking on this list is a good indicator of industry relevance.
To filter my search, I utilized the values outlined above to match my personal criteria, while also constraining the All Areas menu to just “Artificial intelligence” and “Machine learning.” You can view the search results here.
Though the number varies, one source recommends identifying four to six programs to apply to. However, if you have some extra time and additional funds to cover application fees you can apply to as many as you would like. In my case, I spent two-months researching and applying to programs throughout the Summer of 2022, which is why I opted to apply to a slew of programs.
By scrolling through this list, I identified the programs I wanted to look into. Of those, my top three were KAIST (4th), Columbia (41st), and UCL (59th).
Finding a Program
Once you have your list of schools, the next step is to go to that school’s website and look for their list of graduate programs.
My top choice was KAIST, so I navigated to the College of Engineering’s website and found their list of programs. I then chose the program most relevant to me — MSc in Artificial Intelligence.
You should repeat this for every school on your list, while also making note of any other programs that pique your interest. For example, UCL had two programs that I was interested in; MSc Data Science and MSc AI for Sustainable Development. However, some universities restrict graduate applicants to just one application per cycle. In this case, it is important to find out the university’s policy on multiple applications.
Now that you have found a program that aligns with your values, the next step is to look at program-specific information to ensure that it is a good fit for you.
In the end, these considerations are equally as important as your values when it comes to choosing your Master’s program, so it is a good idea to do your due diligence before applying to anything.
When in doubt, ask! Reaching out to a school’s Office of Admissions is generally a good way to quickly answer any program-related questions.
Important Program Information
Some of the most important things to look for are financial support, application deadlines, and housing situations to name a few. Thankfully, most universities have already compiled this information for prospective students in the form of an “Application Guide” or “Student Handbook.”
While looking at the program page above I found the KAIST Applicant Guide which outlines everything mentioned here in a PDF. Alternatively, some schools, like Columbia, list all relevant information on their website.
One of the most notable considerations when it comes to program selection is the funding methods. While some schools offer competitive tuition scholarships and stipend packages, others do not. It is a good idea to vet the school on account of its financial feasibility in terms of your personal situation.
If you are planning to pay out of pocket for your tuition, then you have a bit more flexibility in terms of what program you choose. However, given that most people will not be paying for their program by themselves, identifying funding opportunities is paramount to finding a suitable program. This is also a good time to ask your employer if they have any programs in-place to finance employees’ higher education.
There are numerous funding opportunities in the US that are backed by both private organizations and the government. However, other countries also offer similar programs, like GKS in South Korea and DAAD in Germany.
Some universities also offer need-based funding opportunities for those who are unable to finance a Master’s degree on their own. Here is an example from Columbia.
In my case, KAIST offered a competitive financial aid package which weighed heavily in my decision. Most international students attend KAIST tuition-free and are given a monthly stipend to assist with living expenses.