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Columbia MA Statistics Review?


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Can someone who is currently enrolled in or graduated from the MA Statistics degree at Columbia give a short review of the program?

 

I'm thinking of applying to it, but I've read some conflicting stuff about the program. Is it true that there is no thesis/research paper required? Are the professors generally ambivalent towards MA students? How is the student atmosphere? How were admissions? I've read that they're pretty much willing to admit anyone (with the minimum requirements) who has the $$. 

 

Would you recommend this program to someone who plans on pursuing a PhD in the future?

 

Thanks in advance.

Edited by ParanoidAndroid
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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm curious about this too. I heard that the program is not on par with the reputation of the school and that over half the students are Chinese international students. I wonder if this is true?

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I believe that many of the courses offered are taught be adjunct faculty and that the purpose of the program is to make

money for the department. The program might be fine for someone who wants a job in industry. 

 

I would recommend that you look at the required courses. Then take a look at the courses offered this semester. A web search will then allow you 

to see which faculty are teaching the classes. You can then do another web search  to see whether these are regular faculty or faculty who just come in to 

teach from outside for extra compensation.

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I would like to know how competitive this program is and what the profiles of accepted students are.

It is not competitive, there was another post here that showed they had 280 graduates from the MA program in one year alone. It looks like if you have the basic requirements you will probably get in.

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I'm an applicant to Statistics Master's programs with every intent of going into industry and no PhD goals. Most people using GradCafe forums are more concerned with PhD programs - so I'm curious if anyone browsing this particular thread has any perspective on choosing a master's program purely for job prospects.

 

Part of me feels a little uncomfortable enrolling in a "cash cow" - but should it matter much to me? Will employers care so much about the 'brand' of the school and be largely ignorant of the in-academia reputation of a program (i.e. making a program like Columbia's worth the premium price)?

 

Curious to see if anyone has any experience grappling with this dilemma

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I'm an applicant to Statistics Master's programs with every intent of going into industry and no PhD goals. Most people using GradCafe forums are more concerned with PhD programs - so I'm curious if anyone browsing this particular thread has any perspective on choosing a master's program purely for job prospects.

 

Part of me feels a little uncomfortable enrolling in a "cash cow" - but should it matter much to me? Will employers care so much about the 'brand' of the school and be largely ignorant of the in-academia reputation of a program (i.e. making a program like Columbia's worth the premium price)?

 

Curious to see if anyone has any experience grappling with this dilemma

What industry are you trying to get into, if it is high finance or consulting i dont think an MA from there will do you much good, since it is hard to get into those jobs with a masters anyway (recruiting at those jobs takes place at the undergrad, MBA, and at times at the PhD level). And the department probably doesnt do much for its MA students in terms of placements (given they have so many)

Edited by StatPhD2014
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I'm an applicant to Statistics Master's programs with every intent of going into industry and no PhD goals. Most people using GradCafe forums are more concerned with PhD programs - so I'm curious if anyone browsing this particular thread has any perspective on choosing a master's program purely for job prospects.

 

Part of me feels a little uncomfortable enrolling in a "cash cow" - but should it matter much to me? Will employers care so much about the 'brand' of the school and be largely ignorant of the in-academia reputation of a program (i.e. making a program like Columbia's worth the premium price)?

 

Curious to see if anyone has any experience grappling with this dilemma

 

IMHO, the main benefit of going to a name brand school is the connections you will make there. Most of these schools are very well-connected to industry, and some industries like to hire strictly from "top schools" (e.g. management consulting, investment banking). 

 

However, it is certainly not necessary to go to a top school if you want to get a job in industry. You should look for job placement data to see where recent graduates end up. If it is not available, then you should definitely ask the department to send you it. Any dept that does not provide this info readily should serve as a red flag.

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IMHO, the main benefit of going to a name brand school is the connections you will make there. Most of these schools are very well-connected to industry, and some industries like to hire strictly from "top schools" (e.g. management consulting, investment banking). 

 

However, it is certainly not necessary to go to a top school if you want to get a job in industry. You should look for job placement data to see where recent graduates end up. If it is not available, then you should definitely ask the department to send you it. Any dept that does not provide this info readily should serve as a red flag.

However most of those jobs you speak of recruit from the undergrad population especially in finance. Now there are departments such as CS, which at some schools which have good connections and reputations within industry and they are useful for getting jobs. Dont assume getting an MA in stat from big name schools will get you into high finance or get you the connections you need.

Edited by StatPhD2014
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However most of those jobs you speak of recruit from the undergrad population especially in finance. Now there are departments such as CS, which at some schools which have good connections and reputations within industry and they are useful for getting jobs. Dont assume getting an MA in stat from big name schools will get you into high finance or get you the connections you need.

That's a good point. For Master's degrees, one should definitely take finances into consideration, in addition to job placement. For instance, if I lived in Ohio and I wanted to get a Master's in Stats, I would certainly go to OSU. Judging from their site, they do pretty well at placing MS alumni in industry jobs, whereas there is no such information on the Columbia website. So going to a flagship state school isn't a bad idea if you want to save money (assuming the dept has good industry placement).

 

Additionally, it's not a bad idea to look into programs that offer funding for Master's students too. The school where I obtained my Master's degree funded all of its Stats MS students with teaching assistantships, so none of them had to pay any tuition and got a small 9-month stipend of 11k. The MS alumni also got pretty decent jobs too, especially the ones who had done summer internships in between their first and second year. My Master's institution had nowhere near hte name brand of Columbia either, but it seemed like it still paid off for the MS alumni.

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That's a good point. For Master's degrees, one should definitely take finances into consideration, in addition to job placement. For instance, if I lived in Ohio and I wanted to get a Master's in Stats, I would certainly go to OSU. Judging from their site, they do pretty well at placing MS alumni in industry jobs, whereas there is no such information on the Columbia website. So going to a flagship state school isn't a bad idea if you want to save money (assuming the dept has good industry placement).

 

Additionally, it's not a bad idea to look into programs that offer funding for Master's students too. The school where I obtained my Master's degree funded all of its Stats MS students with teaching assistantships, so none of them had to pay any tuition and got a small 9-month stipend of 11k. The MS alumni also got pretty decent jobs too, especially the ones who had done summer internships in between their first and second year. My Master's institution had nowhere near hte name brand of Columbia either, but it seemed like it still paid off for the MS alumni.

 

I'm not coming straight out of undergrad. I've been working for most of the past 5 years, and in the past 2 years I've been in the consulting industry.

 

Most of my senior colleagues at my consulting firm have MBAs. However, I decided (with help speaking with my bosses and others who know me) that business school wasn't something I felt comfortable with. I perceived it as essentially paying for a network and taking classes on subjects I would be better off learning about 'on-the-job'.

 

My approach to thinking about grad programs has been a compromise of sorts. I wanted to pursue a serious field and I have a strong affinity and interest in mathematics and statistics, but my interest isn't deep enough to commit the time for a PhD. My overarching goal is to improve my 'brand' as a potential employee, helping myself for the next few decades as it seems a graduate degree is becoming more and more 'typical' (for better or for worse). Hence, I don't feel TOO uncomfortable by the idea of going to a 'cash cow' program or a program where the faculty might be more transient (if I'm not looking for recommendations to a PhD program or research efforts on my CV - how much does that matter?). But that's not to say I discount that entirely.

 

Of course, the biggest factor (and the one I can't really ask strangers for help with) is how much tuition I can afford. But I want to make sure I'm considering all the right variables  (job placement of past students, placement support, duration of program, faculty members) and asking the right questions.

 

A lot of the information out on the internet and in places like these forums seems geared towards people aiming for a PhD or people who have the goal of doing serious academic work, so it has been difficult to learn about the experiences of others in situations similar to mine.

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FWIW, a friend of mine did a masters of computer science at Columbia (which also has a high admission rate, no aid) after undergrad at a less well known state university in the middle of the country. He was taught by the same faculty members as the PhD students and overall it seemed like it was an intellectually fulfilling experience. He's since found a software engineering job in NYC. I don't know if the stats masters works the same way, but it could be a good choice for some people. I would do some more digging and arrange a visit to try to get a better feel. 

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Of course, the biggest factor (and the one I can't really ask strangers for help with) is how much tuition I can afford. But I want to make sure I'm considering all the right variables  (job placement of past students, placement support, duration of program, faculty members) and asking the right questions.

It sounds like you are asking all the right questions. You should definitely try to find out as much about all these programs that interest you as possible. What summer internships people typically do is also a good thing to inquire about.

 

For me personally, if I were to obtain a Master's in statistics, I would go for the cheapest option that has relatively good job placement. That is ultimately what motivated my selection of Master's degree programs when I was applying for MS degrees in Applied Math. I ended up attending the flagship university in my state which was also a fully funded MS program where I could work as a TA for a small stipend, so it worked out well for me financially. FWIW, at the time I was applying to MS programs, I also had complete intentions of only obtaining a terminal Master's and working in industry afterwards, and I got an industry job out of that (in engineering which I have been doing the past few years). Every other person in the same MS program as me who graduated my year also got jobs (except for the one student who continued on to a PhD program intead of entering industry). So I'm fine with not having gone to a brand name institution for my Master's.

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