MS in Canada compared to MS in USA

Why apply to MS in Canada?

1. H1B and green card uncertainty in USA due to Trump policies

Trump has hinted that he does not like immigrants (which is the intention of 90%+ internationals who go for MS in USA), H1B caps and OPT rules are constantly under scrutiny and green card processing takes forever.

In comparison, you easily get work permit upon graduation in Canada for 2-4 years in any field to work anywhere you want. The study permit itself allows for taking jobs off campus right from the beginning. Within this time frame, you can easily get your permanent residency. Therefore, studying from Canada means not only getting higher education but a hassle-free option of settling in Canada.

2. The high quality of living and curriculum

Canada’s political stability, tolerant government, super healthcare, natural beauty lends itself to the wonderful quality of living in a peaceful environment. Yes, winters might be an issue for some people.
I saw the ultimate reward of being in Canada in our alumnus’ Rafi’s response –

“I used to weigh 120+ kg in India and had multiple health issues. After coming to Canada and seeing the fitness of people around me, it made me work hard to become healthy myself. Today I weigh 70 kg and have learned swimming and skiing. I love it here.”

While Canada may have a fewer number of schools than the USA, most of them are comparable in quality of coursework and research to the top tier schools of USA.

3. Not so bad job opportunities

Plus, for all the health and wellness benefits it offers, the job scenario is also not bad (we are talking about engineering fields for this post). There are increasing opportunities in growing fields such as Data Science. Plus, most of the bigger tech companies are opening offices in Canada if not already.

In terms of the cost of attendance and living, it may be akin to the USA in total. However, financial aid opportunities seem to be abundant in good Canadian universities.

So, where is the catch?

As is the case we discussed in MS in Germany blog post, downsides of studying in Canada are:

1. Lower job packages

While it is not unheard of to get $100K USD+ packages in the USA in software and technology along with handsome relocation bonuses, Canadian offers are lower with little bonuses.

2. Lower possibilities of working in the USA

It is hard to get placement in US offices from Canada. So, if you graduate from Canada, you are best positioned to work in Canada only. I still believe that the USA offers the best job market and growth opportunities in most of the engineering fields.

To summarize, those looking for long-term settlement, relocation to a foreign country and peaceful living, Canada offers you a wonderful opportunity. But if you are studying abroad to earn as much as possible and might want to come back to India, USA is still a better bet.

The comparison is more clear from this interview with Rafi Alam. He shares insights about studying and working in Canada.

Hear it from someone who pursued CS from Waterloo

That’s it, hope it helps you make a more informed choice for your study abroad plans!


We have now covered MS in Germany and MS in Canada. Which other country are you considering and would like to know more about?

Should you consider doing an MS in Germany?

MS in Germany can be lucrative

Did you know that Hyperloop competition by Elon Musk was won by TU Minich students for a second time! That is not all, pursuing MS in Germany can nearly be free in technical streams. German schools further help all students in getting co-ops kind of internships for practical training. However, there is still a catch when you compare it to USA. Read on to find out…

In an interview with Sangram Gupta, we chat about his experience of pursuing an MS in CS from TU Munich, Germany. He is parallelly interning with a Business Intelligence startup called Incuda.gmbh where he is earning 15 euros per hour. Best thing – he did not spend a single penny in his MS.

Interview covers

  • How helpful is the curriculum like?
  • How long does it take to do an MS?
  • How much does one spend on graduate school in Germany? (Its almost free!)
  • Who should apply to German schools (which kind of programs are best)?
  • What is the process to apply to programs in Germany?
  • What is the internship process and ease of doing internships in Germany?
  • What is the employment scenario in Europe?
  • Why you should or should not consider MS in Germany? (Conclusive comparison with USA)

Video

Let us find out more directly from him in this video-

Resources

Here is the list of top German schools that Sangram considered while applying.


We have now covered MS in Germany and MS in Canada. Which other country are you considering and would like to know more about?

How you can get into Research after MS and contact Professors for PhD?

Summary

Asha Shibu (LinkedIn profile) pursued MS Energy at TAMU but managed to head to Oak Ridge National Lab as a research intern/engineer. Now, she is applying for PhD with promising responses from Professors. Her review of MS Energy program is available on https://scholarstrategy.github.io/ssreview

She tells her story of getting into a research lab directly after MS. In this interview with her, we cover:

  1. How to explore research options from MS?
  2. Do you have to decide about PhD right away?
  3. What matters when choosing a PhD program to apply to?
  4. Commentary on job prospects in Power and Energy field in USA

How to contact Professors if you are applying for a PhD position?

As a bonus, Asha talks about how she has successfully been contacting targeted Professors in her area. She gracefully shares the email that she used herself to get responses.

Subject: Research on Building Energy Efficiency – Prospective Student

Dear Dr. ____,

My name is Asha Shibu and I’m an Energy graduate from Texas A&M University, currently working as Research Assistant at Oak Ridge National Lab. I’m writing to express my interest in your research on Energy efficient buildings at University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

My master’s coursework provided me with an interdisciplinary understanding of multiple aspects of the field, ranging from an overview of energy technologies; to multi-scale energy systems engineering methods; to energy economics, law, security, policy, and societal impact. During my coursework, I also worked at the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) at Texas A&M University, a Department of Energy (DOE) funded program. In this position, I was trained to assess manufacturing plants and to identify measures that would save energy, reduce waste, enhance productivity, and reduce operating costs. As an Energy Engineer at IAC, I conducted ASHRAE Level I-II energy audits that resulted in $730,000 in recommended savings to date, and I developed practical skills in thermal systems, electrical power systems, building envelopes, HVAC, combustion systems, and lighting. The training I received at the IAC, along with courses such as “Energy Efficiency in Buildings,” sparked my interest in energy efficiency and sustainable energy resources utilized in commercial and residential buildings, and my desire to be involved in the field’s ongoing research led me to work for the Oak Ridge National Lab after graduation. As a researcher, I realize the importance of collaborating with others in the field, and at the same time, of an ability to work independently. Currently, I’m working on two DOE projects, and my interaction with the Energy Efficiency Research and Analysis Group at ORNL has sharpened my appetite for further knowledge in Building Technologies field and this is one area I could see myself exploring further in research as a graduate student.

I will be applying to Ph.D. program in Building Systems offered by University of Massachusetts-Amherst and would very much like the opportunity to join your group. Will you be accepting applications for new graduate students for entry in Fall 2018?

Thank you very much for your time. I hope we have the chance to speak about research in the near future.

Sincerely,
Asha Shibu
ASTRO Student
Energy Efficiency Research and Analysis Group (EERA)

For more info on how to contact Professors, please check out MS Book.

So, without further ado, here is the interview with Asha Shibu.


We are now open for Spring/Fall 2019 admission cycle. Check out our counseling packages to see how we can help you.

How good is Portland State University for MS EE?

Welcome back! Today, I am sharing detailed feedback by Melvin Thomas, who is pursuing MS EE from Portland State University and interning at AMD. This is what he wrote about the program in an email-


Feedback from MS EE student at Portland State University

I know that this is one the last options of many MS VLSI aspirants, if not an unconsidered option because of its unranked status. However, I would like to share few feedback from my time here that might help someone in our group in future:

Tracks

  • Digital IC Design was considered the best thing here and I also joined here for the same. But the Professor who was handling both the Digital IC Design courses has retired and it is no longer the flagship track here. As such Digital IC Design 1 and 2 are taught by a good professor only once a year and sometimes the first course will be taught by him only in Spring term which is the third term provided you join in Fall, and its pretty late to learn the core course then. Still, ASIC Design course is great and the Department are coming up with a separate Physical Design Course as well. ASIC Design will be taught in Winter and in Fall, before DIC1(by the best professor) in Spring and hence you may not be in a position to take advantage of his classes and take the succeeding courses with a systematic learning. But learning DIC1 is pretty manageable on your own irrespective of the Professor and that is what I did in my first term so that I can get the fundamentals early.
  • Computer Architecture track is excellent here and have 4 courses for it and is taught by excellent professors and research scientists working in Intel. The questions asked for all the interviews are directly from the slides they teach even though they are application level question which you cannot answer without understanding the fundamentals. But the fundamentals are structured very well and even the advanced computer architecture courses are handled excellently.
  • The in-demand red-hot winning track here is the Design Verification and Validation track and a high percentage of openings in the industry are verification positions and a large % of my batch mates, including myself, are working in Design Verification and Validation positions. It is excellently organized and taught and it is what fetches jobs here at this point of time.
  • There are many professors who are not that great and few important subjects are taught by great professors only once a year. So making compromises with choice of subjects and professors are very common here to fit your schedule. This is one drawback but there is no other way around this.

Coursework, and Research

  • The course offers great flexibility and you will end up completing multiple tracks by the time you graduate because one track’s core courses are another track’s breadth and depth courses. Few compromises have to be done to fit your schedule and planned coursework because learning systematically is very important. For me, staying ambitious with my courses has been vital and I have taken the risk of two tough subjects in one term just to leverage the options of being taught by good professors but that required full dedication in that term. Even while doing my internship I have opted for the course that adds value looking at the market, and not for the sake of taking a course to have a relaxed term. This is where many go wrong, but provided you work hard with total dedication, things are manageable and certainly rewarding with time.
  • There is no research happening here. There is no funding for it. And there are only 2 or 3 “real professors” – others are adjuncts who either have strong industry experience with PhD or are instructors without a PhD – and it shows in the way they teach. But it doesn’t mean they teach bad, rather they teach differently as compared to a real professor. It then comes down to how much you want to learn and how much you try to learn from them and as long as you do it, you are still getting benefits – ultimately the learning happens but in a different way.
  • Quarter system is really tough. There is no real time to grasp things as they are taught and also we don’t get time to do huge projects as compared to those in semester systems. Any slight slack off costs you so much as such and we have to be ambitious with projects and do additional projects during breaks to match our competitors.
  • CS Department here is one of the worst. I strongly discourage anyone from joining PSU for CS. But ECE Department is glorious with respect to VLSI and especially Computer Architecture and Verification and it is going to stay so for the upcoming years. Also, the Embedded track here is not good. It is totally different from the coursework of other universities with courses that aren’t organized well and I strongly discourage anyone to join PSU for an embedded program.

Job/Internship Prospects

  • This is not an Intel place at least for the past few years. Intel is on freeze and very few have got any calls except the ones who have someone at a senior position to refer them. That being said, Intel is not the only company around and verification jobs are plenty in other companies.
  • There are no career fairs here. Everything depends on your portal luck and mostly referrals help you. I got 3 calls through portals because I have a high CGPA (>3.9), and I am one of the few people to get this portal luck. Yet what is effective is someone to refer you and otherwise your portal luck never aids you mostly.

Scholarships, and Finance

  • Getting a TA is totally dependent on your academic performance and rapport with the professors. There are many who had less GPA and who got an internship because they had someone to refer them in. But they could not get a TA because Professors do know your capacity from your grades and projects. I got 2 TA offers – one in my third term which is rare to be honest – and one currently and another Grader position. Being a TA covers nearly covers all the expenses of a term and paid me around $7000 for 3 months. Being a TA here is sometimes an easy task – you don’t have to take class, most of the time – rather conduct office hours and help them either then or via email and I never tried for an on-campus job – but no job could be better than a TA, especially when I am studying along and when it provides me flexibility with my timings.

Location

  • Portland is a fantastic place to live and study and its cheap. It is blessed with nature and for me with the right academics too and I truly enjoy being here. It was tough for me to make this decision because I was going to an unranked University but I decided to join PSU instead of UTD because of my financial situation. But my decision to join PSU quitting my job at HPE was one of the best decisions I made and I never regret coming here and irrespective of what people told me a year ago, I am doing my internship in a well reputed big shot company and alongside people from USC, UMinn, UPenn etc. – my journey is different, my route is different, but with support of all those who believed in me, including you, and with hard work and grace of God, I am on the right track well among the right mix.

Peer learning

  • The academic standard of Indians studying here is poor. There are only a handful who are really ambitious and know things and do really work hard. So there is lack of competition here and all the terms I spend considerable time in figuring out how to say no to all the people approaching me for being their project partners. There are only few whom you can learn with. With that being said, I am working with people who graduated from UMinn, UPenn, USC etc. here in AMD and an unranked PSU guy is up with those people who are from the big brackets! – as you said, the reward of hard work irrespective of where you are.

Thanks for this honest feedback, Melvin 🙂 We wish you all the best always.

If I had to summarize, I would say that it is less about the school you attend than what you do there. If you know how to hustle, you can make it big from anywhere. Of course, starting from a school that helps you in moving towards your goal does put you at an advantage. But if you do not have a choice, do what Melvin did – made the best of what he had in hand and emerged victorious. I trust in you.

Want to work with us? Check our mentoring packages 🙂

Feedback on MS EE at UNCC

Scholar Strategy alumnus Sajin joined UNCC for MS EE in Fall 2016. He shares his feedback on the program-

Before coming here, I didn’t feel that UNCC was a good option to do my Master’s in. But, I’ve been proven wrong in every way. The coursework for Embedded systems, computer architecture and operating systems specialization is really good.

Coursework

The advanced course in operating systems offered here is a direct clone of an MIT grad course, and it is extensive enough to prepare anyone to go directly into industry. I highly recommend anyone who wants to do something in operating systems (kernel development, device drivers, etc), to have a look into UNCC.

The research work in computer architecture is really good, and the professor who handles that (Dr. Hamed Tabhki), gives you good relevant research work on that field if you show interest. The focus is on general purpose GPUs and FPGAs. Also, there is an excellent professor in the CS department who offers very good courses on high-performance computing. For Embedded systems, there are decent courses, but things could be better.

Vlsi coursework is not up to the mark, but they’ve hired some new professors recently. I’ll update you on the progress in due time. As of now, UNCC is not a good place to be, if anyone is planning to specialize in VLSI.

In general, I’ll highly recommend UNCC if anyone is interested in computer engineering (There is no MS in computer engineering as such right now, but MS in electrical engineering covers all this).

Finance

In terms of funding, the situation is not that good. None of the MS students get tuition fee waiver, at least in computer engineering. Funding is mostly in the form of TAs and RAs, and most of these will go to people who opt for thesis (the situation is different in computer science).

Employment prospects

In terms of jobs, a lot of people taking up operating systems are getting into good companies. Around 8 of the 22 who took the advanced OS course cracked Intel. People have gotten into Cisco, Amazon, and Texas Instruments. Last year, around 4-5 got into Qualcomm. The job scene is good for people who opted for the right, challenging courses. Also, it is worth mentioning that people who took embedded systems courses are getting lots of calls for embedded firmware jobs.

About my progress, I’ve gotten into Wind River Systems, which is an Intel subsidiary. I am working in the CoreOS team of their flagship real time OS VxWorks. I’m getting to work on cutting edge stuff, and am really enjoying the experience here.

Thanks for your honest thoughts, Sajin. Hope it helps the prospective applicants.