Master of Information and Data Science – From Shortlisting to Completing a Year

Data Scientist is termed as the sexiest job of the 21st century. And once this phrase was coined, people started dreaming about Data Science as their career. And naturally what followed was an avalanche of institutes starting Data Science related courses in various shapes and forms.

It was mid-2017 when I decided to pursue a Data Science course. There were many choices. The courses came in different flavours and each one concentrated on a different aspect of Data Science. The courses were from a few weeks up to a couple of years in duration; starting from boot camp to full-fledged masters programs.

I had two primary requirements. First, it had to be a Master’s degree and not any diploma or boot camp course. This removed many options. And the second requirement was the course must allow me to work while studying. And once I applied these filters I had a Masters abroad program on top of my list!

The program covers all facets of Data Science. It has applied machine learning which is included in most of the other comparable courses. But it also covers data engineering, visualisation, experiment creation, and ethics. I couldn’t find such a promising all-rounded approach in any other course at that time.

Getting into the program was not easy either just because it was a virtual course. The University treats admission to this virtual course at par with admissions to other on-campus Masters abroad programs. So I had to appear for GRE and TOEFL. Then provide two letters of recommendation. And finally had a brief interview with the Program head.

The actual admission paperwork was a bit painful as I had to courier all my original mark sheets and other documents to the University and it took a couple of months to get them back. But otherwise, admission experience was very good. Each student is assigned a Student Advisor who calls you every 15 days in the first term to make sure new students are not stuck anywhere. Even in later terms, Student Advisor calls in before the term ends to plan for next term. So you are never really left alone.

So far, I have completed 3 terms. From the instructors and content perspective, the program has been satisfactory. Since the subjects covered till now are beginners level the difficulty level is still reasonably low. I am hoping that more advanced subjects in the next few terms will raise the bar of the program. All the instructors are fabulous and have solid industry experience. The lectures and office hours are quite beneficial and bring virtual class setup as close to the on-campus experience. Even though it is a virtual class, student number is capped at maximum 15 students per class. So students and lecturer interaction is very smooth.

And I must highlight one plus of joining this program. Alumni! Joining this program adds you to the same alumni network as on-campus students. And The University alumni network is very strong which gives you many opportunities that you might miss otherwise.

Of course, there are a couple of pain points with this program. One is the cost. This is by far one of the most expensive data science programs out there. And for an Indian student appreciation of dollar makes you bleed even more each term. The second pain point is lecture timings. Most of the lectures are at 4 pm PST which translates to 4:30 am IST. So you really have to wake up before anyone else in your neighbourhood for the classes. Though recently I have seen some 7 am classes which would be more appealing to international students.

Overall I am quite satisfied with my decision to join this program. I am looking forward to some sleepless nights leading me to super cool data science field in coming years.

-Gaurav Desai

Study Abroad Experience

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