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Stanford or U of Wisc - Madison?
Old 03-18-2011, 08:40 AM   #1
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Stanford or U of Wisc - Madison?

DD has been accepted to Stanford and U of Wisconsin (Madison) for graduate study in computer science. UW - Madison (ranked #10 - US News) offers fellowship (worth about $18K per year) + tuition remission while Stanford (ranked #1 - US News) offers NOTHING. The tuition at Stanford is $42,000 per year (almost the same as their Medical School). A master in CS would take about 2 years. That means it would cost about $120,000 to attend Stanford [ ($42K + 18K) *2].

Would you choose Stanford over UW-Madison for the prestige?


BTW - Tuition @Stanford for MBA is $52K -- cash cow for the university.
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:55 AM   #2
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What is the purpose for the grad studies...to teach or work in the field? The way I see it Stanford = Silicon Valley, hotbed of IT, then I'd think Stanford. UW doesn't have a professional area like this, so if it's teaching, UW makes sense with the free ride. I was think coming out of Stanford being the #1 program would get you top pay compared to UW.
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:59 AM   #3
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Is she planning on doing a master's degree or continuing on for a Ph.D? There is generally more funding for ph.d. students so often times students will apply to that program knowing ahead of time they will stop early.

Also what areas does she want to focus on? and which professors have research programs in those areas at stanford/wisconsin?

One possibility that I have seen with students at stanford is that as soon as she gets there, she tries to get an RA working in a professors lab. This might mean she could get a tuition waiver/stipend for year two.
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:04 AM   #4
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What is the purpose for the grad studies...to teach or work in the field? The way I see it Stanford = Silicon Valley, hotbed of IT, then I'd think Stanford. UW doesn't have a professional area like this, so if it's teaching, UW makes sense with the free ride. I was think coming out of Stanford being the #1 program would get you top pay compared to UW.
She has no plan to get a PhD. It might be true that she may be able to get a slightly higher starting salary if graduated from Stanford, but it may never pay off the difference in cost of attending of $120K. I think the self-pride is the prime benefit.
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:05 AM   #5
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I'd choose Madison. Of course I went to Stanford's rival Cal .

Seriously if she wants to work in Silicon Valley than proximity to Silicon Valley and the connection she makes might be worth it. Madison is a fine school and given that CS degree is already a valuable degree, that is whole bunch of student loans to be burdened with.
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:09 AM   #6
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Is she planning on doing a master's degree or continuing on for a Ph.D? There is generally more funding for ph.d. students so often times students will apply to that program knowing ahead of time they will stop early.

Also what areas does she want to focus on? and which professors have research programs in those areas at stanford/wisconsin?

One possibility that I have seen with students at stanford is that as soon as she gets there, she tries to get an RA working in a professors lab. This might mean she could get a tuition waiver/stipend for year two.
She is going for the master's degree. I came to the same conclusion that she should have applied for the PhD program and then decide to continue. Her interest is artificial intelligence or embedded system. She could have applied for the electrical engineering program as well since she has dual degrees (EE and Computer Engineering). Her chance of getting a fellowship is probably better in engineering.
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:25 AM   #7
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I'd choose Madison. Of course I went to Stanford's rival Cal .

Seriously if she wants to work in Silicon Valley than proximity to Silicon Valley and the connection she makes might be worth it. Madison is a fine school and given that CS degree is already a valuable degree, that is whole bunch of student loans to be burdened with.
Thanks.

She does not know where she wants to work - most likely in the twin cities (Minnesota). If she wants to work in Silicon Valley, she can work for HP or other mega corp and receive tuition reimbursement to complete the MSCS at Standford in 3 years.
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:36 AM   #8
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Would you choose Stanford over UW-Madison for the prestige?
Which school has higher survival rates better weather?

I think there's an element of the paradise and proximity taxes. But if she doesn't need Silicon Valley then they don't need you her to pay the admission fee.
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:43 AM   #9
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I think the job market right now is very good for jr to intermediate level CS grads with masters. So I don't think the prestige of stanford would give much of an advantage over wisconsin except for the personal connections of the faculty (which could be substantial especially re startups).

One friend of mine recently had multiple offers (AI, text mining background) from silicon valley companies without a top-ten degree. However, he is an excellent coder and proved it to his interviewers (I think for one test he had to implement a spell checker starting with a corpus of documents that may have also have spelling errors).
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:58 AM   #10
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One friend of mine recently had multiple offers (AI, text mining background) from silicon valley companies without a top-ten degree. However, he is an excellent coder and proved it to his interviewers ..
Agreed - Thar's really the bottom line: the person.
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:00 AM   #11
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Which school has higher survival rates better weather?.
Obviously Palo Alto has much weather climate (though not as good as Hawaii).
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:01 AM   #12
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The OP has underestimated the cost of each school because there is an opportunity cost of attending any school, which is the income foregone for the period that the student is out of the workforce. Probably the impact of this factor is neutral as between Stanford and UW, but it is a real cost nevertheless.

Assuming that the "cost" of a Stanford M.A. in this field is $120K (rather than, say, $200K, owing to the opportunity cost), the question is not what "we" would do but rather what the OP or the OP's family should do. The answer to that question depends upon the marginal utility of $120K to the OP or the OP's family. And that in turn depends upon "how many" $120Ks that they already have.

Put another way, "I" would spend the money on Stanford, and not (only) because of the prestige. But someone with fewer $120Ks than I have might logically make the other choice. This is in fact why land-grant universities like Wisconsin were created -- to service the middle class.

A footnote: If the student will take full economic advantage of the Stanford opportunity, then the $120K delta will in hindsight prove to have been a wise investment.
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:08 AM   #13
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Put another way, "I" would spend the money on Stanford, and not (only) because of the prestige. But someone with fewer $120Ks than I have might logically make the other choice. This is in fact why land-grant universities like Wisconsin were created -- to service the middle class.

A footnote: If the student will take full economic advantage of the Stanford opportunity, then the $120K delta will in hindsight prove to have been a wise investment.
Thank you. It's probably true that an advantage of the Stanford opportunity may exist if it is in MBA or law. I have worked with many engineers and managers with graduate degrees from Stanford over the last 30+ years. Their compensation is very similar to mine even though I hold degrees from lesser-known schools.
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:11 AM   #14
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Congrats to your DD!

I feel both schools meet a need, but depends on the DD's intention after graduation.

My caution would be related to DD truly enjoying the career path. Sometimes it's suggested to engaged in employment in the field first before pursuing a Master's degree. This will allow the person to get a flavor of the career and perhaps focus more in a specific area of her grad studies.

While I understand the job market is tough, has she applied for any positions? If she lands a job, they may provide tuition reimbursement to help offset any cost.

Also, is she independent enough to be away from the family during her studies? or will the family be relocating to CA making it moot.
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:22 AM   #15
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Let me just say oh my goodness your DD is one smart chickie! Congratulations--acceptance to both those schools--whoa!

Although Stanford isn't offering anything official it's hard to believe there wouldn't be work/study or other outside opportunities to take down some of that tuition.

I have always heard that one should go to the best grad school she can get into so I guess I'd vote Stanford. But #10 is an awesome school too.
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:37 AM   #16
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While I understand the job market is tough, has she applied for any positions? If she lands a job, they may provide tuition reimbursement to help offset any cost.
There are at least three local companies that are ready to offer a job as she has worked for them as an intern and co-op since her freshman year. She will return to one of those companies as a summer intern in June.

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Also, is she independent enough to be away from the family during her studies? or will the family be relocating to CA making it moot.
She is very independent. I like to return to the Bay Area but DW's root is here in the Midwest.
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:45 AM   #17
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DD has been accepted to Stanford and U of Wisconsin (Madison) for graduate study in computer science. UW - Madison (ranked #10 - US News) offers fellowship (worth about $18K per year) + tuition remission while Stanford (ranked #1 - US News) offers NOTHING. The tuition at Stanford is $42,000 per year (almost the same as their Medical School). A master in CS would take about 2 years. That means it would cost about $120,000 to attend Stanford [ ($42K + 18K) *2].

Would you choose Stanford over UW-Madison for the prestige?


BTW - Tuition @Stanford for MBA is $52K -- cash cow for the university.
Both are great schools. I don't think her employer will "look down" on a UW Madison degree.........

My sister got two BS degrees, a masters, and a PhD from Madison. Michigan State actually had a more prestigious program at the time, but she still became a world renowned expert in her field, so it IS about the PERSON...........
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:48 AM   #18
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Let me just say oh my goodness your DD is one smart chickie! Congratulations--acceptance to both those schools--whoa!
She is -- and we are proud of her academic achievement. She has managed to get a free ride for her undergrad study and a few intern and co-op positions. She's debt free and has over $20K in her bank account.

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Although Stanford isn't offering anything official it's hard to believe there wouldn't be work/study or other outside opportunities to take down some of that tuition.
Stanford, though no guaranteed as stated in their acceptance letter, may offer her TA/RA only if she's registered for the program.

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I have always heard that one should go to the best grad school she can get into so I guess I'd vote Stanford. But #10 is an awesome school too.
Since Stanford, Berkeley, MIT and CMU are all tied as number 1, Wisconsin is really number 7. If you look at the ranking score (from U.S. News), schools that ranked lower than number 1, such as 2 - 15, are neck-and-neck in terms of ranking.
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:50 AM   #19
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Both are great schools. I don't think her employer will "look down" on a UW Madison degree.........

My sister got two BS degrees, a masters, and a PhD from Madison. Michigan State actually had a more prestigious program at the time, but she still became a world renowned expert in her field, so it IS about the PERSON...........
You are absolutely correct - it's the the PERSON!
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:53 AM   #20
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Is her area of research interest specific enough that she can identify the professor(s) or lab she wants to work with at each school? Maybe she can speak with them and see who she likes better.

If both schools were the same price, would the decision still be hard?

Is she the type of person that wants to work 40 hours and live her life, or is she extremely passioniate and prone working until someone tells her to go home?

If her work is going to be her passion, I'd say Stanford. If not, UW Madison. Over a long career, the 120k difference is a drop in the bucket. If she works for 10 years and becomes a stay at home mom, the 120k becomes a big regret.
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