Grad School Application Info

These are various application materials from when I applied to grad school, openly published here to encourage and assist others when doing the same. Feel free to use my LaTeX source files to generate your own documents if you would like.

Statement of Purpose

Endless thanks to Ethan Fast for his blog post State Your Purpose and Jean Yang for publishing her statement of purpose. I found both of these very useful for understanding the tone and content of an effective statement of purpose.


I’m told that my 0.71 GPA from RIT set a low score record for accepted CMU ISR Ph.D. students; I find endless amusement in this. Lesson: there is very little that you can’t recover from, worry about what you’re doing now rather than what mistakes you may have made in the past. My UVA grades were also not fantastic, but at that point I knew that developing and demonstrating research skills was more important than perfect academic performance.


This is the resume that I sent out with my applications (except the address and phone number have been changed). This is not my current resume, but it should give you an idea of what worked for grad school.


Important update for 2020: Many schools are starting to drop the GRE requirement (including CMU ISR). Make sure you check to see if the schools you are applying to require them, if none of them require it I advise not even taking it.

I didn’t study at all for the GREs and went in completely cold. I pretty much bombed the writing portion, but it’s pretty clear that having a coherent statement of purpose and/or having written a paper is more important to admissions committees than standardized test scores.


Here’s the list of the schools I applied to and their response:

A: Accept
R: Reject
N: No Response

*Duke does a strange thing where you’re first invited to a pre-admission visit and that serves both as a visit day and an admission interview. I spoke with two different professors over Skype and am pretty sure that they would have admitted me had I gone to the visit.

Application Fees

Applying to as many schools as I did was very expensive (approx. $2,000). Do not let this discourage you from applying. At the time I did not know about application fee waivers, which I likely would have been eligible for. Most schools offer these, and from what I understand they are usually generous about them. If you think you’d be eligible, you probably are.