Going back to academia

March 30, 2024

I plan to go back to academics and the post describes few thoughts on pursuing masters and the process/documents needed.

Results update: Got admitted to both the Masters in Computer Science programs I applied to: GaTech OMSCS and UT Austin MSCSO! I haven't decided on which university I will pick yet.

Reasons to pursue masters

It has been 4 years since I did my undergrad (2020 grad), and after 4 years, I plan to do masters in Computer Science. For those with whom I've talked, know that I wasn't someone who was inclined to do masters. That is one of the biggest reasons to write this blog —- to describe what changed. A few reasons:

  • I felt that my knowledge of Computer Science was not deep enough at multiple occasions. I knew a little about software engineering, but not much about computer science. To give an example, words like Quorums, Paxos, and RAFT were totally unknown. I have learned them now, but it has made me question how many such things are being missed.
  • I wanted to try more core computer science than just software engineering. Example: Rather than using cache systems like Redis, Memcache on a server, I wanted to build a cache system - and that required me to know core computer science concepts that I wasn't completely aware of or had studied before.

I could have learned these things on my own, but wanted a more systematic and structured approach, That's when I decided to pursue fundamentals of computer science. I started reading books on my reading list sincerely. Meanwhile, I came to know about online masters and that seemed like the best option. It is later than when most folks would pursue masters, but I'm okay with that. I now feel the extreme need and even higher motivation to do it, so all is well!

Why online masters?

There are three main reasons for me:

  • Learning is the goal: Masters is considered one of the most standard ways to enter the US and settle there. While there is nothing wrong with that, for me, learning is the main goal with masters. I am not inclined to settle in the US at this point.
  • Uncertain tech market: With everything happening in the tech market, I didn't feel leaving my job would be a wise decision. Also, I like the work at my current job. That's when I came to know about the online masters program and felt like it was the right thing to do.
  • No distinction of degree: The universities in the US offering online masters didn't differentiate in the degree given. It is the same for both the on-campus program, and the online program.


I went over majority of the universities in the US, and the following looked like the best options (in no particular order):

I applied to OMSCS and MSCSO programs because of the affordability and both of them are top schools for computer science (Top 10 rankings in the US).

Application process

The application process to the online masters is as rigorous as the offline program. Applying for masters programs is a marathon and not a sprint. Things will take time, it will be slow, so be patient! For context, it took me almost a month and several iterations to write the statement of purpose.

Different univerisites have different requirements, but overall, you need the following for the applications:

  • Three Letters of Recommendations
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Resume
  • TOEFL/IELTS exam
  • Transcripts from university
  • GRE (optional)

For the statement of purpose, talk about your internships, research projects, work experience, intent to do masters, areas of interest, why choosing the university. The following GitHub repository has a great collection of resources: shaily99/advice. Please feel free to reach out to me if you need any help.

Here is the statement of purpose and resume that I wrote while applying:


I hope to get accepted and looking forward to start this journey from August 2024. Balancing work, academics, and personal time will be a challenge, but I'm approaching it with optimism and a can-do attitude. I hope to write more about the program and the learnings.

Thank you for reading!