Kishore Vancheeshwaran
Journey into Georgia Tech's OMSCS

I got admitted to Georgia Tech’s OMSCS program 😃 Yay. I will be starting this Jan 2021 from Spring 2021.

Why an MS now?

When I started my career, I had a lot of half baked knowledge when it came to CS and programming. Gradually I was able to improve over time, but I felt (still feel) that I lack the proper grounding when it came to foundational knowledge. I lacked knowledge on databases, algorithms and data structures, networking, understanding programs/computers at a low level and also the theory behind CS. This made me to decide pursuing a higher education in CS.

Why GaTech?

My options included writing GATE (National level entrance exam for masters education in India), go for a full time MS, search for part time programs. Given that I wanted to continue working to support my family, full time programs were out of the option. I didn’t want to go for GATE because it meant that I had to prepare for 10 subjects on my own and go through the stress of the exam and the ranking, it would be JEE all over again. I just didn’t want that. Additionally, if I did succeed on the first attempt, then that would mean I would be losing 2 years of full time income, on top of prepping for interviews at the end of 2 years. MS was just too expensive for me to try out and USA’s scenario wasn’t exactly encouraging for me. Thus I started looking for part-time programs. Geogia Tech’s OMSCS stood out very much. And this was a top ten MS program in USA, which was just $7000. I knew that I could manage the costs if it is spread over 2-3 years. I gave my TOEFL exam and asked for recommendation letters from a manager and previous professors. Thankfully, I was accepted into the program without much hassle. It was really encouraging to know that I was admitted and that I had a chance to learn CS properly in a structured environment.

Courses I am interested in

I looked at OMS Central and found the following courses to be interesting. I chose them in the rough order of Rating, Difficulty, Workload. I am interested in taking the Computing Systems Specialization rather than the others since my interests lie more towards CS/machines than with ML.

Course LinkCourseDifficulty (1-5)Workload (hrs/week)Rating (1-5)Choice
CS 6200Graduate Intro to Operating Systems3.6517.684.43Yes
CS 6210Advanced Operating Systems4.1516.414.17Yes
CS 6290High Performance Computer Architecture3.7114.393.86Yes
CS 6220Intro to High Performance Computing4.4719.234.48Yes
CS 6515Graduate Algorithms4.2819.93.9Yes
CS 8803 O08Compilers - Theory and Practice4.8829.384Yes
CS 7210Distributed ComputingMostly yes
CS 6340Software analysis and testing3.312.963.3Mostly yes
CS 6601Artificial Intelligence4.222.534.24Maybe yes
CS 6291Embedded Systems Optimization3.5915.813.53Maybe yes
CSE 6250Big data for health4.4729.983.89Maybe yes
CS 6260Applied Cryptography3.6113.73.7Maybe yes
CS 6460Educational Technology2.8814.353.98Maybe
CS 6265Information Security Lab417.53.25Maybe
CS 6262Network Security3.0712.853.06Maybe no
CS 6242Data & Visual Analytics3.1514.673.11Maybe no
CS 6250Computer Networks2.448.213.54No


Out of the above, I still have to choose 4 more courses depending on availability and interest. Other than that I hope to have a broad exposure to CS either through OMSCS or through self study.

This google sheets link gives the availability of each course per semester. I think I will be taking GIOS/HPCA in the first term. This link gives the grade distribution for each class in OMSCS.

Here is a useful reddit thread on how to register properly for courses.

Looking forward to a happier year in 2021 compared to the lousy 2020.

If you would like to leave a comment, contact me via email.