OK, here’s the thing. I got into UCLA and USC for MS in Electrical Engineering, and I can’t decide! I’ve been going back and forth for months, and I’d really appreciate any help. I know, this is a physics forum, but my field (solid state, solar cells, nanotech, etc) is quite physics-ish, so I was hoping for some physicists’ opinions..
The break down so far…..
Solid state / Nanotech Courses:
From a brief look at the course descriptions, some of USC's courses seem slightly introductory. My undergrad background is in physics, so it'd be pointless to sit through introductory solid state / quantum mechanics lectures. On the other hand, UCLA's courses look more more in-depth. Then again, they look quite theoretical, and I'd prefer USC's more application-ish style.
Both universities offer some cool-looking courses that the other does not (e.g. USC offers medical nanotechnology and quantum computing, while UCLA offers fusion engineering and financial maths)
USC seems to have the slight edge in terms of match.
USC: ~40K in tuition to finish minimum requirements (USC charges per unit)
UCLA: ~45K in tuition if I finish in 5 quarters (UCLA chargers per quarter). However, UCLA might be better bang for the buck since I’d be able to take as many classes as I want. For example, taking 15 classes at UCLA will cost ~45K (provided I finish within 5 quarters), whereas at USC it will cost ~67K
UCLA: Public School. California's broke. Tuition fees might rise drastically? Campus services (e.g. library hours, careers center) might deteriorate?
USC: Private school --> More immune to economy?
USC's Viterbi School of Engineering ranks higher than UCLA's School of Engineering. In EE when someone says solid state, what they are really referring to is the application of solid state physics to the design and fabrication of devices, so much of that course should be in the actual design of the devices using principles from solid state theory (different from your undergraduate solid state courses in physics). I am about to finish my MS in Physics and am in the middle of my MSEE at USC. I was in the same situation and I don't regret my choice. Both schools are great. The area around USC is pretty bad though. What really matters is academics and in that regard USC is GREAT!
You should try visiting the campuses and talking to graduate students at both campuses. Maybe that will help you out in making your decision. By the way, you said "UCLA's courses look more more in-depth", but the fact of the matter is that you can not tell by reading a course description how in depth the course will really be. Example: when I took an advanced Statistical Physics course (for my MS Physics) the description in the syllabus was about 3 sentences long. In no way did this reflect how deep we got into the subject (included a lot of advanced topics that were not mentioned anywhere in the description). EE is by no means theoretical. The work in any engineering branch in any school is all about the application of science and mathematics for the analysis and design of a system. As far as I know, EEs do not do theoretical work, it is all about design and becoming good at it. If you want to be a great designer and make a lot of $$, then the school that you choose makes no difference.
Both schools are great. Do the best that you can regardless of the choice that you make and you will get a great job.
For instance, a friend of mine got her MSEE at California State University, Northridge. She was a top student. EE students from all over the U.S. from top schools (MIT, Caltech, Harvard, UIUC,...) and not so good schools applied at Intel for a firmware engineering position. From a pool of about 100 applicants, they hired two. My friend (from Cal State Northridge) and another person (from UCLA). The school that you went to for EE makes no difference to most people in industry. What really matters is your performance.