Prospective Students

I often receive inquiries from prospective students. If I do not reply, this does not mean that I have not read your e-mail (I most probably have). Unfortunately, there are just too many to respond to each one in detail. Here are answers to some common questions (that I will keep updating):

  • Q: Will you be accepting new students for the year 20XX?

    A: Almost certainly yes. I am always looking for highly-motivated PhD students, especially students interested in Deep Learning.

  • Q: I want to join your group. What should I do?

    Students in our machine learning group (and all others in our department) must first be admitted to the graduate program in the Department of Computer Science or Department of Statistical Sciences. The deadline is around Dec. each year, and all of the information is available online here.

  • Q: What about working in your group or with you?

    A: If you are specifically interested in machine learning, please indicate this on your application. Students are generally admitted to the department at large, with guaranteed funding and are generally free to work with whomever they find a good match with once they arrive.
    However, if you want to work with me, be sure to indicate this in your statement of interest included with your official application and list Machine Learning as your area of choice.

  • Q: You have a joint appointment with the Department of Computer Science and Department of Statistical Sciences. Which department I should apply to?

    A: It really depends on your background and what you want to do. I supervise students in both departments, but almost all of my incoming PhD students have a strong background in Math/CS and have strong coding skills.

  • Q: What is involved in applying?

    A: You have to fill out some forms (which are available online) and send some of them to our department and some to the central university School of Graduate Studies. There is also a nominal fee for applying. We try to inform you in March of our decision. Note that the Machine Learning group usually accept a very small percentage of the best applicants, but the exact numbers vary from year to year.

  • Q: What are the admissions criteria?

    A: Admissions decisions will be based primarily on your past academic performance (including marks and standardized tests like the GRE), your reference letters and forms which we look at very carefully, and any research, or job experience you might have.
    Having some idea of the sort of research in which you are interested helps us send your file to the relevant faculty, but many students do not know exactly what they want to work on -- you shouldn't make up a research interest that you aren't sure of. You should be advised that even if you meet the minimum admission standards of the University, spots in our department and the machine learning group are very limited, and so nothing can be guaranteed.

  • Q: Can you provide funding (i.e., a research assistantship) for my studies?

    A: All students admitted to our department are guaranteed funding for the normal time of completion in their degree program (17 months for master's plus an additional 43 months if you continue to the PhD). This money comes from various sources including student scholarships, central university funds for student support, and research grants from faculty members.

  • Q: It's now spring/summer, and I'm really, really interested in your research area. Can't you accept me right away for September?

    A: No. We stick to the timeline of applications as indicated on the department web site.

    Good luck in your pursuit of graduate studies!

Thanks to Sam Roweis for the initial version of this page.

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Ruslan Salakhutdinov, Department of Statistics and Computer Science, University of Toronto,