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advice for an econ grad who wants to switch to CS


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Hi all,

I was hoping you guys could give me some input. I'm trying to get a sense of what programs are out there that would take someone with my background for an MS in CS. My job has brought me into contact with CS and I have come to enjoy that the most in my day to day.

in terms of background, I graduated from University of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics, with a pretty math heavy focus (mostly probability, statistics and higher level math courses). I also have a minor in German, but that is probably irrelevant hah. 3.93 GPA, fairly involved in extra curriculars. In terms of work experience, I work in a strategy role at a large bank in their structured finance group.

My programming experience is limited, and while I am hoping to build it up in the next couple of years by taking night classes, given my work schedule it is hard for me to gain the exposure required for a lot of programs (i.e. 4+ courses). Given this, any recommendations in terms of programs?

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  • 2 months later...

There is a fair amount of theory in CS and I think it would be difficult to jump into graduate level courses from an unrelated degree based on what I've seen and know.

I'm wrapping up my undergrad in CS this semester. The degree is often times about 45-55 credit hours at most schools, that's a good chunk of material. Yes, CS has a close relationship with math, but its mostly discrete based. It wouldn't be hard for a mathematics major with programming experience to jump into graduate CS (in some areas they may even have an easier time than CS majors).

Anyway, you seem like a very bright and motivated person so maybe these issues ultimately won't matter. I just think its good to have a healthy notion of the amount of foundational material there is. Understanding object oreintated programming, data structures, discrete math and algorithms with get you a long way. Maybe the CS GRE is a good way of prooving your ability?

Edited by zannebrain
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If you want to do game theory/machine learning/vision stuff, then switching should not be too hard (especially for the former). Your probability and stats background will help you out A LOT - a lot of people in applied math directly go for a PhD in CS. Programming experience is not really important unless you want to focus on programming in your MS (One of my friends in a top CS PhD program didn't even know how to program when he started his PhD). Even doing CS theory should not be too big of a leap as long as you're good at Math. If you want to go on for a PhD later, then you will want to do some research while doing your MS and if you're doing something like game theory, it should be easy to get a head start.

Also U. of Penn has a pretty decent CS program. Since that's your alma mater, have you enquired how easy it would be for you to do a Masters there itself? A lot of schools have a 5th year Masters program and some schools even let students who've graduated pursue a 5th year Masters later.

Also - talk to profs in your former department. They should have some idea of what would be the appropriate path or atleast should be able to point you to the right person.

Edited by jjsakurai
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