Q00. I am an international student and I want to apply to your PhD program. Are you taking students?
We get 5+ emails of this type per week through the fall. As a once international student, I understand the anxiety of being on the other side. First, these emails are not effective unless you've read the faculty's papers and have something intelligent to say. So, don't bother wasting your time. Second, let me explain a common issue with PhD admissions for international students. Typically, CS programs tend to fund their PhD students through the length of their program (5 years). This means faculty tend to be risk averse. Having sat on PhD admissions committees, most faculty find it challenging to assess the background of an international student because they don't often know your school or your advisor. It's also difficult to gauge whether your grades are highly competitive or not. As a result, most committees pass on international students unless they have an *obviously* strong application. If you're serious about research and getting a PhD, and don't have a strong research background (i.e. published papers in top conferences and strong recommendation letters), apply to the masters program. Very often, we take our strong masters students as research assistants after a semester or two. This gives you a chance to build credibility. And, very often, you can recover the cost of your masters through industry internships which pay quite a bit. Also, at a place like Hopkins, there are many faculty outside of computer science that are looking for strong programmers for a research project. That funding can tide you over until you find a lab. But, in the long run, it's more fruitful to apply to a strong masters program with the goal of switching to a good PhD program rather than going to a PhD program with a poor fit.