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Soliciting tips for evaluating a new program


Triamvx
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I have applied to a handful of MS Stats and related programs. A subset of those now includes acceptances to Master's programs at Duke, UNC, and UVA.

 

However, UVA is not a pure stats program, but a brand new Data Science program that spans 11 months.

 

I'm wondering if there are any particular considerations I should make when trying to assess a brand new program, without any alumni stats to reference. Of course, comparing this program with traditional stats is likely very problematic in itself. Does anyone have an impression of UVA's reputation in related fields related to stats? Or UVA's traditional stat program?

 

If it is helpful to any potential respondents, UVA is very attractive on the outside because I am very interested developing a technical data programming skill-set in order to return to industry (as opposed to pursuing a PhD). The shorter length of the program (11 months vs. 2 years) also means I can get back into the job market quicker (I'm currently working, 5 years after completing my undergrad degree).

 

But despite these 'positives', I'm still nervous about jumping into something untested. Data science programs seems to be the next big thing (NYU's is new this year, right?) - so anyone have any grand theories of how these degrees might be perceived in the future?

 

Thank you.

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I've copied the course requirements below, which can be found here: http://people.virginia.edu/~jjh2b/msds/#curric
 
Obviously, quite a bit different than than the programs most people in this forum are focusing on. Much less academic and more technical. On the surface, it speaks to the skills I have perceived as valuable for the job market, but I wonder if I would be crippling myself by forgoing a deeper education in statistics itself.
 
I'm not sure what NYU's new program is like, but I did see acceptances/rejections listed quite prevalently in the gradcafe's admission survey
 
Course requirements for the MSDS program:
 
Summer Term (6 weeks, starting approximately July 1)
      CS 5014: Computation for Data Science
      STAT 6010: Statistical Computing and Data Visualization
 
Fall Term
      STAT 6021: Linear Models for Data Science
      CS 5161: Design and Analysis of Algorithms for Data Science
      DS 6001: Topics in the Practice of Data Science
      Elective
 
January Term
      DS 6002: Ethics of Big Data
 
Spring Term
      SYS 6018: Applied Data Mining
      SYS 6016: Machine Learning
      DS 6003: Capstone Project
      Elective
Selection of elective courses is done in consultation with the program director. There are a variety of possible electives available, including the following:
 
Fall Term
      CS 6444: Introduction to Parallel and Cloud Computing
      SYS 6035: Agent‐Based Modeling & Simulation
      STAT 5260: Categorical Data Analysis
      STAT 5140: Survival Analysis & Reliability Theory
      SYS 6043: Applied Optimization
      SYS 6044: Applied Probability
 
Spring Term
      CS 6750: Database Systems
      STAT 5170: Applied Time Series
      STAT 5340: Bootstrap and Other Resampling Methods
      MATH 5110: Stochastic Processes
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Thanks for posting the requirements, some of the stuff they have there like Stochastic Processes and Database systems do sound helpful from a professional perspective. It seems like a very career-oriented degree and that might explain its brevity.

 

Here is my take: I don't think you'd be shorting yourself of the skills you need, but I think you might have a hard time getting employers to recognize that.

 

I'm at a managerial level at my company where I do hiring/interviews, and I can tell you that new programs or those who don't have something of a history get weighted down, particularly so if they seem like they were created because of current trends.

 

I'm not saying that's generalizable, but if you got into Duke and UNC I'd wonder what about UVA is attracting you to it. Are neither the Duke or UNC programs part-time?

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Thanks for posting the requirements, some of the stuff they have there like Stochastic Processes and Database systems do sound helpful from a professional perspective. It seems like a very career-oriented degree and that might explain its brevity.

 

Here is my take: I don't think you'd be shorting yourself of the skills you need, but I think you might have a hard time getting employers to recognize that.

 

I'm at a managerial level at my company where I do hiring/interviews, and I can tell you that new programs or those who don't have something of a history get weighted down, particularly so if they seem like they were created because of current trends.

 

I'm not saying that's generalizable, but if you got into Duke and UNC I'd wonder what about UVA is attracting you to it. Are neither the Duke or UNC programs part-time?

 

Duke's projected tuition for 2 years/4 semester is around ~90k. UVA's tuition is around $40k for the entire program. That is one of the most compelling advantages for me. UNC is up there in cost as well.

 

I'm not sure where your question about part-time came from. I'm ready to be a full-time student (though I might be able to work on contract basis with my current company, as opposed to pursuing TAing or other school-related funding). The 11 month span is attractive because becoming a full-time student for 2 years is kind of mind boggling to think about, having worked a steady job for over 2 years now. I think I'd rather get back to the work force quicker. The length of the program, cost of tuition, and my belief that its focus is more in line with my goals is what is giving UVA the edge in my mind. What's detracting from it is what you have spoken to - the uncertainty around a new program, and my lack of knowledge about UVA's reputation in these areas.

 

I would have thought the "weighting down" of new programs you mentioned might not be that significant. I thought industry knowledge of specific program reputation would be relatively low, and supplanted by the recognition/reputation of the overall university name (of which I'd consider UVA close to the same tier as Duke)

 

I apologize for being off-topic, but has UNC already sent out acceptances for their MS Stats program? 

 

I can only speak for myself. I received an email on Friday

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The curriculum at UVa is radically different from the curriculum at any stat/biostat department I have seen. If it's a new program, I would have a hard time recommending it since I have no idea how employers would view that type of degree.

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