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Imperial College London vs UC Berkeley

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    Hello all,

    I have been accepted into both universities; Applied Mathematics in UCB, and Mathematics with Applied Mathematics/Mathematical Physics in Imperial, and I currently cannot decide which one to go to.

    I have been using the QS world university rankings website. Imperial is ranked 6th, and UCB is ranked 21st, but looking at subject wise, UCB beats Imperial in rankings in all 5 areas. (Imperial College London - Topuniversities, and University of California, Berkeley (UCB) - Topuniversities). I do want to go to a higher ranked university, but I also want to go to a university that provides better courses in this particular subject, so I can't come to a decision at the moment.

    Personally I want to do a post-grad in perhaps finance related subjects after my undergraduate, so which university is better in that regard?

    I am not from either UK or US, so the location doesn't play a huge role in my decision.

    On a side note, UCB was ranked top 10 a few years ago, but it suddenly dropped in rankings; what happened?

    Please tell me your opinions, thanks very much for your help
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    (Original post by stevenz0601)
    Hello all,

    I have been accepted into both universities; Applied Mathematics in UCB, and Mathematics with Applied Mathematics/Mathematical Physics in Imperial, and I currently cannot decide which one to go to.

    I have been using the QS world university rankings website. Imperial is ranked 6th, and UCB is ranked 21st, but looking at subject wise, UCB beats Imperial in rankings in all 5 areas. (Imperial College London - Topuniversities, and University of California, Berkeley (UCB) - Topuniversities). I do want to go to a higher ranked university, but I also want to go to a university that provides better courses in this particular subject, so I can't come to a decision at the moment.

    Personally I want to do a post-grad in perhaps finance related subjects after my undergraduate, so which university is better in that regard?

    I am not from either UK or US, so the location doesn't play a huge role in my decision.

    On a side note, UCB was ranked top 10 a few years ago, but it suddenly dropped in rankings; what happened?

    Please tell me your opinions, thanks very much for your help
    When it comes to possibilities after you graduate I can't imagine the difference between Imperial and Berkeley being significant at all. It's much more important that you put in the work and achieve a good grade at the end.

    Given the choice, I'd probably head to Berkeley. The weather is much nicer
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    I guess the reputation matters. Which university is more internationally recognised?
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    despite what others say, Imperial isn't really that well known internationally. Perhaps in asia it is relatively well known, but if you went to other english speaking countries (US, aus, canada etc.), Imperial is unheard of.
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    I am probably thinking of doing a postgrad in the US, so will going to UCB be better in that regard?

    Also, how is the student life at Imperial? What about the quality of the lectures?
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    Don't make your decision based on rankings. Only morons do that...
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    I've heard stories about UC Berkeley. It tends to attract a certain kind of person: American students who are admitted mostly on the weight of affirmative action policies, with a persecution complex and not much in the way of academic achievement.

    Imperial is pretty much the opposite. Everyone is serious about what they are doing and most people don't care about politics.

    Which you prefer is a matter of taste.

    Another factor is that since you're foreign, studying in US will make things a lot easier if you want US citizenship or to work in the US after graduation. The UK is/was a lot easier to emigrate to.
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    I've heard you can complete your undergraduate and masters all together in 4 years at Imperial, which I do like, but after that, is it easy to go outside of UK for doctorate studies or even employment?

    Also, is it possible to choose to do my masters in a different area? I am doing Maths for my undergraduate work, but will it be possible for me to do, for instance, Finance for my masters in my 4th year at Imperial?
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    OH HEY! i got into berkeley too (biomedical engineering) but i'm going to imperial for medicine instead (but i'm american)

    berkeley is super super super liberal if that matters at all to you... probably a pretty awesome cultural experience at least

    it should not be difficult to leave the UK for doctorate studies/employment

    also as someone who has no affirmative action benefit and got into berkeley, DynamicSynergy is not entirely accurate, although some people who do get affirmative action absolutely deserve to be there too and just come from less priveleged backgrounds, its good for student diversity and building a balanced student body although not necessarily fair!
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    @preraphaelite That's great, what made you choose Imperial?
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    If you want to work in North America, go UCB.
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    I would choose Berkeley, dont look at rankings, imperial will demand a lot from you without really teaching you stuff, you will have to do LOTS of work on your own.

    Typical imperial situation:

    Go through lecture slides and notes, in great detail, start doing a tutorial sheet, half of the stuff was not covered in the lectures.

    If you want to end up at canary wharf, Imperial will open a lot of doors for you.

    The campus is gloomy and industrial-styled, weather is very "grey" most of the time.



    If I was given a choice now, I would go to Berkeley.
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    @Moa I'm assuming Imperial won't open many doors if I decide to work in other countries?
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    why would you assume that?

    it is a top tier university known around the world by recruiters.
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    What I have heard is that UCB nowadays is quite easy to get in. The entry requirement is quite low since 2009. Somebody told me that UCB's PHD program doesn't even want the undergraduate students from itself. So if for Master or PHD, I would go to UCB. If for undergraduate, definitely Imperial.
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    (Original post by stevenz0601)
    @preraphaelite That's great, what made you choose Imperial?
    well since I'm international, I thought it would be a really great cultural experience. Medical school in the UK is much more focused on global medical needs while in the US we barely even learn about diseases like malaria. But since you're from either country that probably won't be a factor for you. Also by going to Imperial i could be a doctor in two less years. But, both of my parents are in Academia and there are TONS of foreign graduate students in the U.S. at least so if you go to imperial and then leave the UK you should be fine. London is a bigger city which was also a factor for me.
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    (Original post by Moa)
    I would choose Berkeley, dont look at rankings, imperial will demand a lot from you without really teaching you stuff, you will have to do LOTS of work on your own.

    Typical imperial situation:

    Go through lecture slides and notes, in great detail, start doing a tutorial sheet, half of the stuff was not covered in the lectures.

    If you want to end up at canary wharf, Imperial will open a lot of doors for you.

    The campus is gloomy and industrial-styled, weather is very "grey" most of the time.



    If I was given a choice now, I would go to Berkeley.
    100% accurate description.

    *bro fist.
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    (Original post by kka25)
    100% accurate description.

    *bro fist.
    Yes, true, and it hits you the most exactly at this time of the year, where you are not able to prepare for tutorials using lecture notes, and when you manage to go through tutorials through heavy use of internet, you notice that tutorials do not prepare you for the exams...

    Did I mention that some departments do not release answers to the past papers?
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    (Original post by Moa)
    Yes, true, and it hits you the most exactly at this time of the year, where you are not able to prepare for tutorials using lecture notes, and when you manage to go through tutorials through heavy use of internet, you notice that tutorials do not prepare you for the exams...

    Did I mention that some departments do not release answers to the past papers?
    A* description.

    I find it weird asking something that is not even covered in the lecture or the syllabus and expect the students to perform well; there are thousands of topics out there on the net for the particular module and they expect the students to 'guess' which one might be asked in the exams? God.. Tutorials are poor as well. You expect 1-2 tutors can manage 100-200 students? ; I think the college needs to learn how to count.
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    If you want to do a PhD in finance after then Berkeley would probably be the best option - the US is well above the UK when it comes to economics/finance at postgrad and research level (largely because other countries dont take it too seriously; US universities are obsessed with economics/finance and usually privilege these faculties over anything else in the university)

    Berkeley is also higher ranked than anywhere in the UK when it comes to mathematics except maybe Cambridge. This relates more to the postgrad/research side of things though; realistically as an undergraduate from either university you would have a good shot at a decent masters/phd program.

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Updated: April 13, 2012
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