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Which school for master's in EE and related career questions

  1. Apr 13, 2013 #1
    Hello, all.

    I've been accepted to some MS programs in EE. My primary concern is that I don't know how to evaluate what I'll "get out of" each program.

    I can go to school A. I have a RA offer and a tuition waver at school A from a research group that works on materials for thin-film transistors and solar cells, which interests me. I would start working on research immediately. This group consistently sends MS alumni into the semiconductor device industry in the region (and sometimes National Labs). I've met and gotten along with the PI and the research group over a couple of days. School A is a state school of no particular distinction, as far as I know.

    I can go to school B. I do not have an RA offer or a tuition waver at school B, but I've been told that a majority (~70%) of MS students who do a thesis get an RA by the second term. I've visited school B and talked with some of the professors and other prospective students, and they mostly seem reasonable. I have not been invited into a research group, but there are a few groups that I'd be interested in. School B is, to my limited and possibly flawed understanding, a massive, well-funded, well-regarded state school. For whatever this is worth, its EE graduate program is ranked in the top 20 by US News and World Report.

    Some questions I have:

    1. How can I determine where I'll get a better education or a better return on investment?

    2. To what degree does "prestige" matter? Is it an accurate reflection of the quality of the program, or just a pissing contest? Maybe a little of both?

    3. I'm considering going on to get a PhD, depending on if I really like research in academia. If I do decide to go on, am I expected to stay at the same school I got my MS? If I go back for a PhD, can I transition to a different area provided I demonstrate interest and competence in that area?

    4. Should I try to get involved with research that might become super useful in 5+ years, like optical circuits or spintronics?

    Really, any comments or help will be greatly appreciated. I feel like I'm playing pin-the-tail on the donkey here. Also I'm leaning toward school A...

  2. jcsd
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