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Thinking about Chicago FM or CMU, totally lost if Im a good or bad applicant

Hey guys, I know you all probably read a ton of threads like this, but I really need some light regarding this whole application process and how my chances would fair.

So about me, I'm from Brazil graduated from a Federal University in Electrical Engineering with a 7.97/10 GPA (I know this doesn't sound like much but it was actually the 3rd highest of my class), then I went to Korea where I got my MS at KAIST in transportation engineering, where I focused way more in research than classes, so I got a 3.5/4 GPA, but as a result, also have 2 first author journal publication (one of them is an IEEE journal).

After my master's, I stayed in Korea working as a contract researcher in two labs at KAIST (worked in AI, got an international patent (not pending, already awarded) ), and finally returned to Brazil last year.

Since then I worked as a lead research scientist at an AI startup for 6 months and have been working as a senior data scientist for over a year at one of the biggest health care companies in the world. Also, as I said before I'm from Brazil, so maybe there is some diversity factor that might increase my chances?

I wanted to go to either CMU or Chicago because since this would be a huge investment I wanted to make sure that it will be 100% worth it. Oh, and I have a 154/168/4.0 on my GRE and 111 Toefl. So yeah, I may not have the summa cum laude grades but I guess I have an interesting background. Would this be enough to apply to a top program? Or should I aim a bit lower?
Thank you very very much
 
Hey guys, I know you all probably read a ton of threads like this, but I really need some light regarding this whole application process and how my chances would fair.

So about me, I'm from Brazil graduated from a Federal University in Electrical Engineering with a 7.97/10 GPA (I know this doesn't sound like much but it was actually the 3rd highest of my class), then I went to Korea where I got my MS at KAIST in transportation engineering, where I focused way more in research than classes, so I got a 3.5/4 GPA, but as a result, also have 2 first author journal publication (one of them is an IEEE journal).

After my master's, I stayed in Korea working as a contract researcher in two labs at KAIST (worked in AI, got an international patent (not pending, already awarded) ), and finally returned to Brazil last year.

Since then I worked as a lead research scientist at an AI startup for 6 months and have been working as a senior data scientist for over a year at one of the biggest health care companies in the world. Also, as I said before I'm from Brazil, so maybe there is some diversity factor that might increase my chances?

I wanted to go to either CMU or Chicago because since this would be a huge investment I wanted to make sure that it will be 100% worth it. Oh, and I have a 154/168/4.0 on my GRE and 111 Toefl. So yeah, I may not have the summa cum laude grades but I guess I have an interesting background. Would this be enough to apply to a top program? Or should I aim a bit lower?
Thank you very very much
Since this is a huge investment, then why not aim high? If you get in, good, if not, at least you tried.
 
It actually isn't that difficult to get application fee's waived, as @Michsund said. Two approaches that worked for me:

(1) Attend at least one event for every program you are considering, and you will often find they give waivers to those in attendance, or those that ask questions and so on (they want you to apply).
(2) Ask! On more than one occasion, simply asking the admissions team if there were any pathways to waiving the application fee worked for me. Not all programs do it, but people are fairly surprised to learn how many are willing.

Good luck!
 
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