I regularly get email from prospective students wanting to work with me. Please don't contact me directly with inquiries about our graduate program, for I'm afraid I get far too many such inquires to answer them. Instead, have a look at the list of FAQ below -- I think you'll find all the answers to your questions.
I wish you the best in your graduate career,
You apply on-line to our graduate program (either M.S. or Ph.D.). A central admissions committee then reviews the applicants, seeking input from the research faculty. If you state on your application that you're interested in computer vision, then the computer vision group will review your application and forward its comments and recommendations to the central committee, who will make the final decision. Thus, directly contacting faculty members (including myself) of the vision group is unnecessary and will in no way affect your chances of being admitted.
If you have a B.S. degree (or equivalent), then you would normally apply to our M.S. program. You're expected to complete your M.S. degree in 18 months. If you'd like to continue on in the Ph.D. program, then toward the end of your M.S. program, you state your intention to continue and there's a review process that determines whether or not you continue on. Note that your M.S. research represents the early stages of your Ph.D. research. If you have a M.S. degree, then you would apply directly to the Ph.D. program.
We are considered the top CS graduate program in Canada and (in multiple independent rankings) one of the top-10 graduate CS programs in the world. Thus, our graduate program is very competitive (comparable to a top US program) and we're forced to turn away many excellent students.
If you are admitted, you have a funding guarantee of five years (for either an incoming M.S. student that continues on for a Ph.D. or an incoming Ph.D. student), with the vast majority of your funding in the form of a fellowship, giving you maximum time to devote to your research and your courses. In contrast, most US programs will offer you a TA-ship (or, in some cases, an RA-ship), for which you have to work up to 20 hours per week. While you will be offered two TA-ships here, they are light (4 hours per week), and are considered small supplements to your main source of fellowship income (each TA-ship boosts your salary by about $2K). In fact, some students choose not to accept them, finding the fellowship to be sufficient income.
Students admitted to our department are free to work with the faculty member of their choosing. While you may be assigned an initial supervisor prior to your arrival based on your stated interests and the supervisory capacity of faculty in that area, you are not bound to that faculty member. When you arrive and meet/interact with our other faculty, you may decide that some other faculty member would make a better supervisor for you for a variety of reasons, including research area or supervisory style. It's important that you converge on a relationship that you're happy with, and we're here to help you find that relationship.
If you're coming to do computer vision, then you've come to a wonderful environment. We have tremendous breadth in our vision group, and our vision faculty (including Allan Jepson, David Fleet, Kyros Kutulakos, and myself -- make sure you check out their individual web pages) cover topics ranging from low-level vision (e.g., segmentation, stereo, optical flow, digital photography, 3D reconstruction) to intermediate-level vision (e.g., perceptual grouping, motion segmentation) to high-level vision (e.g., tracking, indexing, matching, object recognition). We have strong connections with the machine learning group, some of whose members (Geoff Hinton and Rich Zemel) are active vision researchers as well, and the computational linguistics group (Suzanne Stevenson), with which some of us have joint research programs combining vision and language. We also have strong ties between computer graphics and computer vision, with one of our vision faculty (Kutulakos) also belonging to our graphics group, strong ties between vision and human-computer interaction (Ravin Balakrishnan), and strong ties with the U. of T. ECE Department (Brendan Frey). We encourage our students to pursue multidisciplinary research, and it is not uncommon for a student to be jointly supervised by members spanning these groups.
We're always looking for new vision students, and hope that you will consider us among the elite vision programs that you apply to. Our campus is located in downtown Toronto, the most culturally diverse city in the world. You don't need a car to get around (we have great public transit), and the city has much to offer in the way of music, art, culture, and cuisine. But my advice to any keen, prospective graduate student is to talk to our current graduate students (you can track them down on our vision group website) and get their perspective on life as a graduate student here in Toronto.