Please read this page first if you are interested in working with me at the University of Calgary.
Here are some random notes and advice I would like to share with you. Hopefully they make you better informed and make your application stronger.
Professors receive a lot of emails. We look for students who are interested in our own research. If your email looks like it was sent to 100 other professors, you will be less likely to receive a response.
It may take some time for a professor to respond (also see point above). It is okay to send reminder emails occasionally. However, if we receive a reminder email from you every single week, your email address will likely be blocked.
Note that for master's degrees, there are thesis-based master's and professional (course-based) master's. Thesis-based master's programs prepare you for Ph.D. while professional master's programs prepare you for the industry. One is not better than the other, but make sure you know the paths you want to take.
Thesis-based master's programs are very common in Canada. These programs are funded because students are expected to conduct extensive research with a thesis supervisor, similar to a Ph.D. program. In the USA, many master's programs are not funded, because they are professional master's programs that do not require research or thesis writing. Funding means scholarships, teaching assistantships, or research assistantships - money deposited into your bank account to help you with tuition and living expenses.
To Ph.D. or not to Ph.D.? This question has been asked by many, many people. I have these points to summarize:
Most Canadian universities do not require the GRE. Many American universities have started to drop the GRE as well. Your time would be better spent on improving your technical skills (in specific areas that you are applying to) and research experiences.
In Canada and the USA, your CV should be a professional document detailing all your achievements since you became an adult. (Do not include anything from middle school or high school, unless you won an Olympic medal, or something similar.)
My research group
When reading your application, I will be looking at your CV to see if you have done something related to what I am looking for. This point is much more important than a high grade on your transcript.
For master's applicants, I am looking for students who can show knowledge of games or VR (immersive technologies).
For Ph.D. applicants, you need to show that you are capable of publishing research papers, which is usually what happens in a master's degree. There are always exceptions, but it is up to you to show why you are capable.
Can you get in our Ph.D. program directly from a bachelor's degree? The question I would ask is: are you a co-author on a research paper? I had undergraduate students who were our research assistants, and they became co-authors on our publications. Research is very different from taking classes, and you shouldn't get into Ph.D. without experiencing what research is like.
The focus of my group is not on theoretical machine learning research. However, if you say you know machine learning, then see the next point.
I read a lot of computer science applications where the applicants say they know machine learning. Knowing scikit-learn, Tensorflow, Keras, or PyTorch in Python does not make you impressive for computer science, unfortunately, because everybody is using them, including people in geology, business, medicine, arts, politics, etc. If you really want to impress someone as a computer scientist, show that you can write machine learning algorithms from scratch, or that you can do machine learning calculations by hand, on a piece of paper (you need to know the math).
Our computer science master's and Ph.D. degrees are all funded thesis-based.
If you want to know machine learning for a job, then perhaps our 1-year professional master's degree in Data Science and Analytics is more suitable for you.
Our Computational Media Design degrees are very different from computer science. CMD is a transdisciplinary program that requires students to be at the intersection of computer science and arts/design. Designing innovative digital experiences is one such area. CMD is a funded thesis-based degree.
If you want to get into the video game industry, we are creating a new 1-year professional master's degree in Game Production. Details to be released later.