Its the time of the year when students aspiring to pursue Masters in the US are in a dilemma in finalizing a university. Some may haf finalized the university. Whether you belong to the former or the latter, you are sure to haf many Qs racing in your mind. I've been getting a lot of emails, wall posts, messages etc. regarding information about North Carolina State University (NCSU). The questions are all the same. Hence I decided to write a FAQ which will answer most of the Qs. Hope you find this blog post useful.
Q. Are there any chances of financial aid at NCSU for international students (Masters Students)? [This is the most popular Q]
A. NO. You need to be born with a golden spoon in your mouth to be funded at NCSU; be it in the CS or ECE department. There is almost absolutely NO funding at NCSU. If you are banking on funding for your MS then just forget about this university!
[Update] This was not to discourage anybody. The point is that nobody can guarantee your funding/scholarship being thousands of miles away. I have not seen a single person in ECE/CSC get scholarship right during the admission process. Most of the scholarships are awarded when the students work with a Professor for at least 1 semester, where the Professor gets to know the student and his/her abilities.
Q. How is the financial aid scene like at NCSU this Fall?
A. There are rumors that the university has cut some percentage of TA and RA funds. Hence getting funding at NCSU this semester would prolly be much much much and much more difficult now, if at all there are any.
Q. Does work experience help?
A. It surely does. Having an industry experience helps in academics, in projects students work for [under professors], while applying for internships, jobs etc. But it cannot be generalized that people with no work experience are left out. That is not true.
Q. How is the career fair like, at NCSU??
A. NCSU Career Fairs are organized at a pretty large scale. Its a big event and a huge number of companies and students [from many other universities, as well] participate in it. You can see biggies like Intel, AMD, Google, MS, Siemens, Cisco, IBM, Qualcomm, Broadcom, nVidia, NetApp, Mentor Graphics, Harris, Lockheed Martin etc. in the event. However, due to recession the job scenario for students [esp. the international students] is nothing to write about, currently.
Q. How about on-campus jobs at NCSU?
A. There are a few on-campus jobs. That is however, subject to availability. A lot of positions are held by the current students which may be vacant by December (when many students will graduate). Arriving at NCSU as early as possible may help [in the sense that you will haf lesser competition among your new-comer-peers]. But that doesn't mean you will get a job for sure.
Q. Can I change my major from CS/EE/CPE - Networks to CS/EE/CPE - General or from CS/EE/CPE - General/Networks Non-Thesis to Thesis option (or any combination thereof EXCLUDING BRANCH CHANGES - CS TO ECE AND VICE VERSA)?
A. Yes, one can do that. It must however be done asap [last day for change is before your second semester ends]. However at the time of change, if your CFR (certificate of financial responsibility) is older than 6 months, you will need to produce a fresh one as you will be issued a new I-20 due to change of major.
Q. How is the CS/ECE Networks department at NCSU?
A. AFAIK the Networks department is the best in the whole of the US. Almost the whole syllabus has been structured by companies like Cisco etc.
Q. How is the current internship/job scenario?
A. Not so good. Internships and jobs have taken a hit thanks to the recession. Its worser for international students as compared to the US citizens. However, everyone predicts that things should be fine in an year or so.
Q. How many courses can/should I take in the first semester?
A. Depending on the course difficulty and the individual's capacity one can take up 3 or 4 courses. The fee for either of them is the same. Be aware, though that the minimum number you are required to be enrolled in to maintain full-time student status in the US is 3 courses. This rule is relaxed only in the last semester where-in you may haf only 1 or 2 courses left for the completion of the 30 mandatory credit hours.
Q. Can I get books from my home country?
A. You most certainly can, if you've decided on the courses and emailed the course instructors asking them which books they'd like the students to refer to.
Q. How many credits do I need to obtain an MS degree? Can I delay my MS?
A. You need a minimum of 30 credits. Each department has specific requirements (you need to take certain courses which will enhance breath and depth in your field of study - true in ECE department, not sure about CS department). If you complete all those requirements then you will need to graduate (whether you complete all the requirements in 1.5 years or 2 years). For more information download the Graduate Handbook from your department's website.
Q. Any tips for CS/ECE/CN students?
A. Certainly! Work on your C/C++/Data Structures skills. You gonna need an unlimited supply of these capsules! Once you get here, you will be busy with projects during which time you will not get an opportunity to brush up these skills. Now that you are back home, utilize this time to dust off your programming skills and make it bright and shiny!
Q. Should I pay my first semester's fee by the due date indicated on the NCSU website?
A. The due date (usually July 31st of every year) mostly applies to the current students. New students might not haf even arrived by that date. So its better to mail the NCSU cashier's office and let them know of your arrival and request a later date for fee payment.
Q. How much is the average living expenses at Raleigh?
A. Including rent, food, utility bills it comes to about $550-600 per month. It also largely depends on your lifestyle.
Q. What about the medical immunization form?
A. Make sure you get a complete health check-up done before you come here and get the necessary vaccination done. The immunization form must be completed and signed by a registered medical practitioner (RMP). The form can be submitted after you arrive in Raleigh even though the due date mentioned on it is much earlier (But make sure you email the university and let them know that you will be submitting it after your arrival).
Q. Any useful links?
A. Of course!
Maitri: Indian Student Association [Contact them for airport pickup/temporary accommodation]
NCSU Bluwiki: A nice compilation of useful information
NCSU Newcomers Y! Group: A group to interact with your seniors and peers
If you are reading this post you may be interested in the following posts too:
MS in the US, a guide: Part ONE - Exams - GRE and TOEFL
MS in the US, a guide: Part TWO - Reporting scores and applying to universities
MS in the US, a guide: Part THREE - Reporting scores and applying to universities
MS in the US, a guide: Part FOUR - Applying for a VISA
MS in the US, a guide: Part FIVE - Booking your tickets and packing your bags
MS in the US, a guide: Part SIX - Traveling to the US and initial days of stay
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