कार्तिक रघुनाथन (Karthik Raghunathan)

  • Director of Research, MindMeld
  • Alumnus, Microsoft AI & Research (2010 - 2016)
  • Alumnus, Stanford Computer Science (Graduate class of 2010)
  • Alumnus, NIT Calicut Computer Science and Engineering (Class of 2008)

US Graduate Admissions

Having once been in the shoes of a confused undergraduate student back in India, I am well acquainted with the myriad number of questions and doubts that come to mind while applying for higher studies in the US. Though there are a lot more resources available on the web now (and on the rise), this is my small contribution to that wealth of information.

Ktick's Two Cents

A blog covering some of the FAQs on graduate applications, graduate studies, etc.

Over the last few years, I have been advising juniors and peers regarding academic projects, finding internships and applying to US graduate schools. This blog is a compilation of some of the most frequently asked questions on these topics answered by me over the past few years.


A guide to US graduate admissions, from the perspective of a Masters admissions committee member at Stanford University

In 2010, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Masters admissions committee of the Stanford Computer Science Department, which gave me an opportunity to validate some of my own prior beliefs on the admissions process. I also wrote a document about my experience as an admissions committee member, in which I have talked in detail about the various factors that affect the admissions process at a top US university. The document can be downloaded from the link below:

Demystifying the American Graduate Admissions Process by Karthik Raghunathan     Creative Commons License

Personal Admissions Counseling

For a good cause

I get a lot of mails (even more so after the blog and the paper went public) from prospective applicants seeking further clarifications and with requests to review their profiles and suggest relevant universities, review their statements of purpose and resumes, etc. Though I make it a point to answer all the straightforward questions, it is infeasible for me to reply to each such request for a detailed review because of my time constraints, especially since I don't want to do a haphazard job of it.

Therefore, the pruning algorithm I use is to do such time consuming reviews of profiles, SOPs, etc. only after the person makes a donation (of at least ₹ 1250, though more is always helpful) to HelpAge India, a charity I support. I have been following this approach since 2010, and to my own surprise, it has worked out quite well.

Statistics over the years:
Admissions YearNumber of ApplicantsAmount Raised for Helpage IndiaNotes
201114₹ 4580Inaugural year. Requested donation: ₹ 100
201218₹ 21,698Requested donation: ₹ 300
201316₹ 14,823Requested donation: ₹ 500
201419₹ 25,857Requested donation: ₹ 500
2015113₹ 41,937Requested donation: ₹ 1000
2016216₹ 40,717Requested donation: ₹ 1000 / ₹ 2500 (more info)
2017311₹ 27,088Requested donation: ₹ 1000 / ₹ 2500 (more info)
201849₹ 28,081Requested donation: ₹ 1250 / ₹ 2500 (more info)
201959₹ 28,509Requested donation: ₹ 1250 / ₹ 2500 (more info)
2020620₹ 59,400Requested donation: ₹ 1250 / ₹ 2500 (more info)
202178₹ 32,523Requested donation: ₹ 1250 / ₹ 2500 (more info)
2022- Will commence soon -Requested donation: ₹ 1250 / ₹ 2500 (more info)

1. With help from Swati Padmanabhan
2. With help from Swati Padmanabhan, Swabha Swayamdipta and Sneha Jha
3. With help from Swati Padmanabhan, Swabha Swayamdipta, Krish Perumal, Tushar Goyal, Rohit Banga and Keerthivasan Rajamani
4. With help from Krish Perumal, Tushar Goyal, Rohit Banga, Keerthivasan Rajamani, Snigdhaa Hasija, Manya Wadhwa, Sidhaarth Murugan and Tushar Agarwal
5. With help from Rama Kumar Pasumarthi, Edouard Dufour Sans, Varad Vishwarupe, Tushar Goyal, Keerthivasan Rajamani, Sidhaarth Murugan and Akshay Punhani
6. With help from Krish Perumal, Rama Kumar Pasumarthi, Varad Vishwarupe, Tushar Goyal, Keerthivasan Rajamani, Akshay Punhani, Snigdhaa Hasija, Rohit Banga, Shounak De, Ravi Sundaram, Karan Saxena and Harini Jambunathan.
7. With help from Krish Perumal, Rama Kumar Pasumarthi, Varad Vishwarupe, Tushar Goyal, Keerthivasan Rajamani, Ravi Sundaram, Manya Wadhwa and Harini Jambunathan.

It's been heartening to see that almost everyone has donated a lot more than the requested minimum every year (a big sincere thanks to all of you!). I decide upon the number of students I can counsel each year depending on how full my plate is from my other personal and professional commitments.

So in case you want detailed guidance through your entire application process (SOP reviews, resume critiques, help on recommender selections and prospective universities, answering specific questions relating to your particular situation which are not covered in the blog or the paper, etc.) and have a small amount to spare for a great cause, please do reach out to me (after first checking here first).

For NIT Calicut students


Current students and alumni of NITC who are interested in pursuing graduate studies in the US should consider joining the Facebook group "NITC -> MS/PhD". It is a group run by NITC alumni in the US for providing guidance to aspirants from NITC on a variety of topics related to American graduate studies and admissions. For those more inclined in taking the MBA route, join the "NITC -> MBA" group that is managed by my fellow alumni friends.

In addition, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering also has some helpful resources on its Opportunities page.


Since late 2010, I have been giving webinars (presentation + Q&A) to Indian students in different institutes, talking about the different factors that influence the graduate admissions process in US and clarifying various application related doubts. If you are interested in having such a session (~1-1:30 hours) at your college, feel free to drop me an email and we can work out the logistics.

Previous Webinars:
DateHost Institute
22nd February 2012National Institute of Technology Calicut
21st August 2011National Institute of Technology Calicut
31st March 2011National Institute of Technology Calicut
21st October 2010Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat