University Vs Program – The Most Intelligent Decision I Made

Raghuram Sukumar Universities 43 Comments

Time and time again, we have seen average students determined to take up the biggest challenge.

This experience is another example of some one who gave more importance to program than university brand name and rankings.

It takes time to find such programs. But, end result of such research works wonders.

University vs Program

Like all other Masters Aspirants I wanted to go to the best possible university for my Masters Education.

I was an Average student in India and did not score much in my Btech(69%), GRE(1060) and TOEFEL(95).

But still I had high hopes for my Masters. I researched a lot about universities via HSB and Students in United States.

I finalized some of the best possible, Average and not so good universities for my profile.

I got rejected from all my best possible universities and quite frankly I was very sad about it because I wanted to raise the level of my education and wanted to do something worth during the Masters.

I was left with two choices one was to go to not so good universities and the other was to stay back in India.

However, after all my research and findings I found a third option that nobody really thinks of.

The option was University Vs Program.

Everyone thinks of applying to the universities based on their over all rankings or department wise rankings.

I found nobody (other than those geniuses) who wanted to go to the university based on their program or research in that particular program.

So, I decided to research in this area. It took me 4 months to research but finally I found University of Arkansas at Little Rock which was not so good in the rankings but had the program called Information Quality.

Information Quality was all I was looking for.

It had good research opportunities; it was the first University in the world to offer Graduate Degrees in the field of IQ.

The program was designed in collaboration with MIT’s IQ Program. I applied to this program and got selected.

In my first semester itself my full fees was waived, I was appointed as a RA under my professor, this is my second semester and I am already getting offers from Companies to do Internships.

The program is just awesome and had so many opportunities. I don’t think a student with my profile would have got so many opportunities.

I would like to advice the other aspirants to understand the difference and do the smart thing.

In the End I would like to stretch on the point of selecting the right program is important not university. The other programs in my university are not this much juicy but IQ is.

The program will make the difference in your career not university.

Decision is Awesome

Thanks to Huzaifa Syed for sharing his experience. Good  luck with your Grad school.

You sure made an intelligent decision when deciding between program and university brand value.

I have been trying to convey the same message, but as you said, very few are invest time with university selection.

Time you spent researching about the university and unique program is now working wonders for you.

I have  been to Arkansas and Little Rock.

Update 1 – Added link to Huzaifa Syed’s LikedIn profile.


  1. Hi,

    I am from Hyderabad..

    I am interested in Information Quality. Please let me know the following details when you are free..

    I love to settle down in USA.

    I apologize for lots of questions.

    I would like what are career prospects after MS in IQ??Can I find H1B sponsoring Jobs readily?? If you don’t mind please let me know the average salary we can expect?? Also, Is it comparable to software engineer’s average salary??

    My profile

    GRE- 1410(Q-780, V-630, AWA-2.5) in ECE from IIITDM jabalpur madya pradesh

    CGA-7.3 out of 10 point scale ( till now)

    Currently pursuing my 4th year

    As a part of Curriculum presently working as an intern for period of 6 months in a software company..

  2. Hi Huzaifa,

    I am from Hyderabad..

    I am interested in Information Quality. Please let me know the following details when you are free..

    I love to settle down in USA.

    I apologize for lots of questions.

    I would like what are career prospects after MS in IQ??Can I find H1B sponsoring Jobs readily?? If you don’t mind please let me know the average salary we can expect?? Also, Is it comparable to software engineer’s average salary??

    My profile

    GRE- 1410(Q-780, V-630, AWA-2.5) in ECE from IIITDM jabalpur madya pradesh

    CGA-7.3 out of 10 point scale ( till now)

    Currently pursuing my 4th year

    As a part of Curriculum presently working as an intern for period of 6 months in a software company..

  3. Hi Huzaifa,
    Right now i am pursuing my final semester in Instrumentation Engineering and the same question is troubling me which university and which prog? I have decided to continue doing masters in the field related to Instrumentation such as process control, automation, sensors. Can you help me wid suggesting universities offering such programs i.e related to Instrumentation.

    1. Anish,

      Google the name(process control) look for the universities offering the program. Or search the broad name to that field.



  4. Dis blog was really an encouraging one….. Coz even i am sailing in d same boat as d person who has written dis blog. It is also a wise decision to giv more importance to d course than the university.

  5. Hi HSB & Huzaifa,
    I am doing a final year student and my GPA is 7.11 (for 10.0). I like to do my MS that too in Web Technology domain. I know very well my GPA is below average. I am planning to start my masters after 3 or 4 years only. I know very well from my heart that I want to masters but i am little bit confused about my domain. Is it good to study in Web Technology domain. I also have one question. Does it mandatory for average universities to wrote IEEE papers earlier in my domain for which I am going to apply MS. If i didn’t posted my my question right kindly inform me I will change.


    1. Your questions can only be answered by one and only one person and that’s You. Your still not sure about your program of study. Spend some time determining your Interest. Try to think logically and don’t make your opinion based on other persons inputs.



      1. Huzaifa, What about IEEE papers requirements for MS? Is it must? I kindly request you give me your suggestions. For your information, I have prior experience of writing papers to conference.


        1. Siva,

          Its not must but the papers will help you tremendously. I think you will have a great advantage if you have papers in IEEE. I know a guy who published 21 papers in IEEE and he got full fee waiver and a seat in MIT.



          1. Thanks Huzaifa, for your informations….


  6. Hi Huzaifa,

    Thanks for sharing !!!

    I always had a desire to search for the universities but I dont really understand like where do we get the details like it is good for research in this particular field and all.I have been going through the websites but cant find really anything tangible.
    Maybe I might not have been going through properly on them.
    Your thoughts would be very much appreciated

    1. Mahesh,

      Try to look for Faculties research activities. I looked for Dr John Talburt’s research activities.

      Let me know if this is not clear enough.



  7. Hi Huzaifa,

    I would like to ask you an advice. I am thinking to take GRE now and come to US for MS. I have close to 2 yrs of Exp in Java Development now. Does it help in obtaining internships or getting AID from Colleges in any way ? I would be grateful if u can answer this elaborately 🙂

    1. I think it will help you immensely. You will have an edge over others. I have seen a similar case. I have a friend who used to work in Cognizant and was a Sun Certified Java Programmer. He wanted to do the same program as mine. He came to US last month and because he had experience and proof of his JAVA skills. He was appointed instantaneously under a project.His fees is also waived.



      1. Thanks Huzaifa,

        I am thinking to apply for Spring 2013. What do i need to do from now on to get Full fee Waiver ? Like GRE or SOP or anything else .. Please help.


        1. Try to score good in GRE. You can read the articles of HSB where you can get this information.



  8. Academics alone is not a factor to label a student as average. You had the right attitude,and you did not hold back contemplating over your current profile. The opportunities you envisage is a gift of your audacity in selection of lower ranked universities and the judicious decision you made pertaining to the course. Thanks for posting your experience and it will be of tremendous aid to the average students like me…

    1. We live in the world where person’s credentials are evaluated and judged by what they have accomplished. Unfortunately form someone who just graduated from Bachelors degree, if the person haven’t accomplished anything outside regular college course work, its the academics that will be used to judge. He might be talented, but if nt expressed and proved in terms of academic numbers, world will not believe him.

      1. A question on that – in order to have a good profile outside of pure academics i got involved in a number of research project at a few govt. institutes of research in india. end result: too busy working on those and maintaining a good gpa (8.8) …. just can’t seem to carve out time to study for the GRE!!!! i wake up and fall asleep to algorithms and code libraries, loving every moment of being part of a team that tries to do new, exciting stuff. however gre scores are going to suffer.
        would more papers/projects kinda make up for an average score?

  9. I am also in the same situation. Actually I am interested in MS information security and assurance AT St. Cloud State University in MN. They have pretty good courses. Course fees are also reasonable.But the problem is i have asked like million people but nobody heard about that university and i just can’t go out there because every penny i spend will be from bank loan. Anybody any ideas? Can u throw some light HSB?

      1. Where to find those Non Indians?
        HSB can u guide ? Since you have been in US for years and widely traveled you must be having some idea. Could you please?

      2. Where to find those Non Indians. I even tried various forums but no use.
        Can you help HSB. I know you have been in US for quite long and well traveled across many states. please give some suggestions.
        Is there any way I can tag u here…lol

  10. I studied Industrial Engineering (BA) with 15.66 out of 20 and have been working as an project control engineer since 2 years ago.I’m going to continue my education in Project Management.I found some universities in US (moreover in Europe and Australia) which offer Ms in Project Management and some of them offer MBA with concentration on Project Management.I’m not sure which one is better?
    In addition,funding is very important for me ,so I have to find universities which provide funds for Ms students.
    some universities offer PM which is accredited by first priority is getting admission of these universities.if it is not possible for me I will try other ones.
    is there any one who has studied or is studying PM?
    which one is better:Ms in Project management or MBA with concentration on PM?which one does have better career path?
    which universities does provide funding for Ms in PM?
    is there any special hints for getting admission in this major?

  11. Hi! huzaifa..

    Am at the same state u faced…
    my GPA is 6.93, i need ur help to find the path.. in selecting course & university which accept my profile.
    my desciple is B.E computer science.. thanks in advance..

    1. Vignesh,

      The first thing you need to do is determine your area of interest. What in Computer Science ignites you?

      Can you specify clearly what help you need ?

      If you want to know what needs to be done for selecting Course and University. Read HSB’s articles.



  12. I’ve been trying to find the right university for me without good results. The programs i’ve found are not as good for me as i would like, even though they are offered by very good universities. I’ll start looking up for the best program for my needs. At the ends that’s what really matters. I think i found this article at the right moment. Thank you for the advice!! 🙂

    1. Thats great. You look on the right track.

      Advice: Its very difficult to find program for a sub topic. Try searching for emerging field in the sub topic.

      Let me know if you have any queries.



  13. Great post! Too many people think researching a college is simply looking up rankings, test scores, and admission rates. You show how research really works and its value. Thanks for sharing.

  14. One of the best posts!

    Thank you, HSB and Huzaifa 🙂 especially for the tips on looking for sub-topics. I wish I had seen or heard or talked about this approach long before I flew out.

  15. Thank you so much HSB for posting my article. I am truly delighted. I am so happy you conveyed the message with my example.

    I will be glad if you can list my name(Huzaifa Syed) and Linkedin profile (

    By the grace of Almighty things are going really well for me. My research work is excellent. I am also thinking of doing my Phd here.

    I am very thankful to you for your guidance to me and millions round the world.

    Well Little Rock is a small city as you know but I like it here. It is a home away home to me now. Next time you are in Little Rock. Tell me(501-xxx-xxxx). I can be some help to you. I will be honored to meet you .

    Tell me if you have anything else to ask.



  16. Hi! Thank you for this article.

    Indeed I’ve been researching good programs for topics I’m interested in, yet those which will allow me to make sure I find a job when I move back to India, but it is one huge task. I’m still looking, yes.

    To everyone: searching for the right programs is not something you can do in one month.

    1. Lavanya,

      I would advise you to search sub topics of your interests and then the program. For example if your interest lies in data then you can search for data related sub topics like Data Warehousing, Data Quality etc then you can search for Sub topics of Data Quality.

      It will take loads of time and effort. Be patient and you will be rewarded. If you have anything to ask. Please ask me.



      1. Hi Huzaifa,

        Wat does information quality all about ? Is it similar to application Testing ? I am just enthusiastic to know more about the course and type of positions u are offered for your internships 🙂

      2. Hello,
        Thank you for the response and your offer.
        Right now, I’m looking mainly to finish my GRE and then begin the search once again. I’m looking at a few concentrations in biomed sciences, and maybe something with a management module as well.

        Thank you.

Leave a Comment - Your Thoughts Counts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.