I'm confronted with the dilemma to choose a grad school between Cornell and Boston University for CMT, and I hope you could help me out a bit
. Below is a list of all the things I came up with so far: feel free to add/ask me about other stuff if it seems important to you:
- both schools have professors with whom I'd like to work. I contacted them, and they both said they are willing to give me a project upon arrival
- at Cornell I must teach in the first year (prof. does not have funding for an RA in my first year), at BU I'd have to teach too but it might be possible to start on an RA earlier (prof. said he's very well funded, although he didn't mention funding me on RA upon arrival)
- prof. at Cornell is US, at BU - Russian: no means to offend anyone - just it seems to me that Russians are kind of more radical sometimes, although I myself come from Eastern Europe. Both of them graduated from a top 10 US grad school and I heard only positive things for both of them - so this might not be an issue at all. Also both of them were very friendly to me.
- it seems that the project topics I was offered at BU are a bit more interesting (and probably a bit harder) than those at Cornell
- at BU I was accepted as a post master's student, which means that if I manage to high-pass the written comprehensive exam upon arrival, I might skip the first year of coursework
- as far as I understood Cornell only require their grad students to take one Lab grad course. All else is left to the students to decide - if they need it or not.
- There is an oral Qualifying exam at Cornell, whereas there's a written Comprehensive exam + an Oral specialized exam at BU.
- Cornell's offer: ~ $25.5 K for 9-month TA + $4 to $7K summer RA/TA + health insurance.
- BU's offer: $20K for 9-month TA + at least $10K summer RA/TA + health insurance
- Ithaca is in the middle of nowhere (again, no means to offend anyone, just my European point of view) and it is a small town (never lived in a place < 1 million before, yet never lived in a city > 2 million pop.), while Boston is fairly big and closest to Europe. Europeans describe Boston as 'the most European city in the US'.
- proximity of Harvard and MIT in Boston: would be able to take some of their specialized courses, and some of their seminar talks in my area of interest.
- living expences in Boston definitely higher than in Ithaca (although I don't know how much it might cost to travel to the nearest big city from there). Finding on-campus housing definitely easier at Cornell than at BU.
- Cornell has clearly the bigger institution name.
What do you think about it? What would you do in my place? Also, I've never been to the US before, and I'm afraid I might be missing something important (or just have the wrong impression about certain things).
I'd be happy to have your opinion on this!