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frna

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Hello,
I'm a comp sci student in an undergraduate program specialized on computer graphics (image processing, pattern recognition, etc.) and I'd like to apply to the IGP at TiTech for October 2012. Now there's a few questions I have and if possible, I'd like to start a discussion / information thread that I'd later (if I succeed at getting into TiTech) process and put up on a blog as guideline for future students in the same position!
So here goes:
1) How tough is it getting into TiTech as privately financed student? I'm not talking about the money here, I'm talking (provided my research outline is proper) about my previous academical record. Is it required to be an ace student?
2) How does one set up a course work? It seems the curriculum is based around 4 pillars with plenty of courses to choose from, but how many does one need to take? (If anyone can point me to a working English curriculum that would be great ... I can't find any on cs titech ac jp/cs-home-e.html
3) Is it possible (or maybe even advised) contacting professors from labs with research fields matching my interest fields to ask about possible research topics/outlines for the application? Or should one write this completely on their own?
4) Does one really need to send in original documents that won't be returned? This seems a bit weird to me.

That's it for now, I hope people can help me out. I'm looking forward!
 

thepie

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Hello,
I'm a comp sci student in an undergraduate program specialized on computer graphics (image processing, pattern recognition, etc.) and I'd like to apply to the IGP at TiTech for October 2012. Now there's a few questions I have and if possible, I'd like to start a discussion / information thread that I'd later (if I succeed at getting into TiTech) process and put up on a blog as guideline for future students in the same position!
So here goes:
1) How tough is it getting into TiTech as privately financed student? I'm not talking about the money here, I'm talking (provided my research outline is proper) about my previous academical record. Is it required to be an ace student?
2) How does one set up a course work? It seems the curriculum is based around 4 pillars with plenty of courses to choose from, but how many does one need to take? (If anyone can point me to a working English curriculum that would be great ... I can't find any on cs titech ac jp/cs-home-e.html
3) Is it possible (or maybe even advised) contacting professors from labs with research fields matching my interest fields to ask about possible research topics/outlines for the application? Or should one write this completely on their own?
4) Does one really need to send in original documents that won't be returned? This seems a bit weird to me.
That's it for now, I hope people can help me out. I'm looking forward!
I was accepted to IGP-A 2011, and in CS, too. So I think I can share with you some experience with the application process so far.
1. "How tough" is rather a difficult question to answer. The "toughness" will be based on the competitiveness of the applicant pool of the year - so there is no fixed definition.
However, I could give you some rough qualification as follows:
- Good GPA, preferably > 80%, and ranked at least within 20% of the batch.
- Research experience/internship is a plus
- Contacting your advisor well beforehand
- A good research experience

However I do not have information about how many privately-financed students are admitted to the program each year.

2. I haven't started the coursework yet so I can't say much. But one thing I do know is that you'll probably finish the course works within 2 or at most, 3 semesters. In my case, my advisor does not allow students to take more than 5 courses since he wants us to put emphasis on research.

A breakdown of course requirements:
- 8 credits for research/seminars (your research)
- 16 credits for department courses: 8 courses in total
- 4 courses for international communication:
So excluding the research credits, you need to take 10 courses in total :)

You could find the syllabi for 2010 here (I think they will update to 2011 version soon)
http://www.gakumu.titech.ac.jp/kyoumu/guide/English22/English/index.html

3. You DEFINITELY have to contact professors beforehand. But there are differences compared to contacting professors in Western countries like:
- You should not contact two professors at the same time. Wait for one or two week, try again. If you still have no reply, try the next professor.
- Send your transcript, your CV, and show in your email that you've gone through the lab's website carefully, researching their academic activities to the professor and his secretary (if you can find the email)
- Discuss with him, ask him any paper you should read to write your research proposal. Be sure to be specific in your research proposal - though I know it sounds a bit difficult to write given you're an undergrad. Also show him the proposal well-ahead of sending the application package to make sure he's good with that.

At this time of the year professors have many conferences so they're not likely to reply to you soon. But you should start now!

4. Yes, you do have to send the original documents to the school, but that's for the later part after getting the professor.
 

frna

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Thank you for your time and effort! Things are clearer to me now thanks to you.

Is there an entrance exam for IGP-A students? I've only seen that admission is granted based the application screening.

I'm going to write my bachelor thesis coupled with an internship of sorts this semester (starts in October), do you reckon it would be good to select a topic based on research topics of labs at TiTech? That way I could mention in my application that I'm currently gathering research experience on a topic related to my IGP research outline.

Also, I was wondering how TiTech calculates GPA? I've seen many ways it's calculated and I'm not quite sure how to go about it. In my country (Grades 1 to 5, 1 being best, 5 being failed) my GPA is at 2.19. Not really bad but not really good either. I'm worried about that, but I hope that I can overcome that with a proper research outline.

Edit: Oh and another question: The application guide asks for a letter of recommendation from the dean of my institution.
Is that the dean of the entire university with all it's faculties or is that the dean of faculty of informatics?
I'm wondering because the dean of the university doesn't really know who I am (not that the dean of informatics knows me either but I feel it's more likely to get a letter out of him than out of the university dean).

Again, thank you for your great help!
 

thepie

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Is there an entrance exam for IGP-A students? I've only seen that admission is granted based the application screening.
First you will be screened based on your application. After the screening, if you pass you'll have an interview with 5 professors from the department. The interview is only 15 minutes, but it replaces the entrance exam.

I'm going to write my bachelor thesis coupled with an internship of sorts this semester (starts in October), do you reckon it would be good to select a topic based on research topics of labs at TiTech? That way I could mention in my application that I'm currently gathering research experience on a topic related to my IGP research outline.
I think it is the quality of the research that counts, not simply the topic. Of course, a related topic is preferred. I worked on a different area for my undergrad thesis than the topic I picked for Master's degree.

Also, I was wondering how TiTech calculates GPA? I've seen many ways it's calculated and I'm not quite sure how to go about it. In my country (Grades 1 to 5, 1 being best, 5 being failed) my GPA is at 2.19. Not really bad but not really good either. I'm worried about that, but I hope that I can overcome that with a proper research outline.
Not sure though since my university transcript also provides a conversion to 100 scale (we use 4.3 scale). You could ask the admissions team directly.

The application guide asks for a letter of recommendation from the dean of my institution
It means the head of the department that you currently belong to. My dean doesn't know me but I explained the situation to the secretary and he gave me a very formal letter anyway. Though I doubt it really counts in the application process -- just a mere procedural requirement.
 

frna

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Thank you!

Could you describe the interview process a bit? What kind of questions do they ask and is it in person or over the internet?
 

thepie

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You'll be interviewed over Skype.

The professors will ask you about your research experience, and some questions related to fundamental concepts in CS (like algorithms or operating system). In my case, the focus is my research experience, which they asked me to present for about ~5-7 minutes.

Btw, the interview takes place very early, roughly 3 weeks after you submitting the documents. Btw, speaking of deadline, the CS department has an earlier deadline than the one stated on the IGP-A website. I think the deadline last year for CS Dept was Dec. 01.
 

frna

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Thanks, good to know about the earlier deadline!
I hope I won't be too nervous during the interview/questions. How in depth/specific do those questions get? I haven't had a single course on OS (my field is that of computer graphics).

Now that I have gathered info it's time for me to work on the research proposal and getting in contact with the department.
You've been a great help to me and hopefully to future students looking to do the same.
 

thepie

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Since the time is limited, the question is not in depth. But since you're in computer graphics, you won't be asked questions in OS. So don't worry :)
 

frna

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Hey it's me again.
I have spent the last week thinking about what I want to research and I have a pretty good grasp of that now. I would now like to get in contact with someone from the Lab.

Now there's a question of which professor to contact? Most of the papers related to the topic I want to research have the head of the lab as co-writer/supervisor listed, however there also is an assistant professor there who also supervises graduate students.

Should I mail the Professor who runs the lab or should I get in contact with the Assistant Professor who has probably been a more direct supervisor to the papers I've read?
 

thepie

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Hey it's me again.
I have spent the last week thinking about what I want to research and I have a pretty good grasp of that now. I would now like to get in contact with someone from the Lab.
Now there's a question of which professor to contact? Most of the papers related to the topic I want to research have the head of the lab as co-writer/supervisor listed, however there also is an assistant professor there who also supervises graduate students.
Should I mail the Professor who runs the lab or should I get in contact with the Assistant Professor who has probably been a more direct supervisor to the papers I've read?
You should mail the Professor who's in charge of the lab, since if you get in, he will be your supervisor. Doesn't matter if the main professor doesn't write papers related to your topic :)
A side note for you, assistant profs in Japan have much less power than their counterparts in many other countries, and do not involve in recruiting of a labs.
 

frna

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Thank you! :)
It's mindblowing how helpful you are, I can't stress that enough!
 

frna

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So... turns out the head of the lab retires soon. I didn't get more of a response than that so I'm kind of disheartened right now :(

Do you know how things like that work out in Japan? Does the entire lab disband when he retires or will there be a new guy leading it?

I'm clueless of what to do right now... :( it's hard to find CG departments and international graduate programs.
 
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thepie

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So... turns out the head of the lab retires soon. I didn't get more of a response than that so I'm kind of disheartened right now :(
Do you know how things like that work out in Japan? Does the entire lab disband when he retires or will there be a new guy leading it?
I'm clueless of what to do right now... :( it's hard to find CG departments and international graduate programs.
I wouldn't risk entering such lab either. You should find another professor.
 

frna

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hey, me again.
I've been browsing around for other labs and didn't find any in the comp sci departments that would work with my current interests/field so I've checked out the other graduate schools and the Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering has a couple of labs that would fit perfectly for what I'd like to research.

My only beef is that I would like to get a master in comp sci, not in something else. Do you happen to know if I could do the comp sci course work while doing the research at one of those cg labs? (Over here you can do that as far as I know)
 

thepie

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No, you can't get a computer science degree from another department. The name is different, depending on department. But I don't think the name matters that much :)
 

frna

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I have gotten into contact with a Professor now, he asked me to send my study plan for the two years and describe what I can add to the field of the research topic i specified.

Do I focus exclusively on the research topic or should I also include which classes I would like to take and how I want to divide my time in research/studying?

If second: Should I mix research and taking classes throughout the two years or should I make a divide in 1st year taking classes, 2nd year doing research?
 

thepie

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I have gotten into contact with a Professor now, he asked me to send my study plan for the two years and describe what I can add to the field of the research topic i specified.

Do I focus exclusively on the research topic or should I also include which classes I would like to take and how I want to divide my time in research/studying?

If second: Should I mix research and taking classes throughout the two years or should I make a divide in 1st year taking classes, 2nd year doing research?
IMHO course taking is not important. In fact, you will realize the importance of course taking when you enter graduate school in Japan (pun intended). So don't write about that in your proposal - it means little to nothing at all. Focus solely on your research plan.
 

frna

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How long should a research proposal be? I think mine will be around 4 pages (reference page not included), is that sufficient?
Also did you include a time table and overall plan for what you tackle when during your research?

Did you happen to send in TOEFL test scores directly through ETS to the university? If so, how long did it take from test date to delivery of scores? I'm a bit worried here, the earliest I can take the test is on 5th and mailing the results home usually takes 3-4 weeks I heard.
I wonder if it's different for directly sent score sheets.
 
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frna

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Quick update: I sent my proposal to the professor and he gave me his okay, saying it is an adequate preparation for a master course.
Now all I need is that TOEFL to arrive on time and to pass the examination process (screening of documents and interview).

I will make my proposal public after the application deadline, hopefully it will help future prospective students! Thanks once again for your support, thepie!
 

frna

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Hey guys,
did anyone else apply to TiTech for this IGP?

Just wondering if anyone heard back from them yet.
 

FullM3taL

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Hey frna.

I too applied to the IGP at TITech for Oct 2012 admissions. My field of interest is Artificial Intelligence (Natural Language Processing) and Knowledge Based Systems. I'm currently doing my Bachelor's in Computer Sciences (final year).

I had my interview on 4th Jan. I think I did OK at the time, but later felt that I screwed up a little.

One of the panel professors told me that after the interview, the application will go back to the Admissions Office along with the assessments of all 5 professors. Everything else would be up to the AO, and the professors can do nothing about it. He also told me that the result would be communicated to all the candidates by the end of february or at the start of march.

PS: I read this thread just 2 days before my interview and found it useful. Thanks.
 

frna

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Hey FullM3tal,
glad to hear that you had your interview already. May I ask when they contacted you about it? I haven't heard back from them at all, so your post makes me slightly worried now :(

I wonder if I should contact them to ask about the status of my application or something :S

Thanks for your reply
 

FullM3taL

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Well, the professor I had asked to be my thesis advisor mailed me in the last week of December. He told me that the TITech AO had sent him my application, and that he had gone through it and would like to schedule an interview on a date that would be convinient for both parties. We scheduled the interview for 4th Jan. He also told me that 5 professors would be attending the interview and that they would only ask very basic questions related to my studies and research capabilities.

Based on my experience, I would say that you should ask the professor you contacted to see of your application has gotten through or not, and when to schedule the interview.

The interview was more to know about the subjects I had studied than to test my knowledge of the subjects. Apart from that, they asked about my research plan, motivation to study in Japan, and a few questions.

Hope that helps you. Best of luck.
 

frna

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Hey, thanks for your post.
I've sent the AO a short email asking them about the status of my application. I hope that helps me, instead of ruining it lol.

Good luck to you!
 

frna

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My Professor just mailed me and told me that I passed the initial screening and that they're going to interview me next week!
I'm so excited and even more nervous, hope I'll do good.

Thanks again for your post, that helped me a ton :)
 
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