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Data Science Degree or a Certification Course: Which is better?

DeZyre career counsellors have been retrieving several questions on Quora about –

What are the best data science educational resources?

Is spending $60,000 on a data science degree worth it?

Which institutions offer the best and most recognized data science degrees or professional certifications?

Is a data science degree necessary to become a data scientist?

What are the benefits of online data science degrees? Is there a stigma toward getting an online degree?

This piece of editorial aims to answer all these questions and leave it as an exercise to the reader to identify which is the best way to learn data science- data science online courses or a data science degree, to round out a comprehensible data scientist skill set.

Want to know how much a data scientist earn - CLICK HERE

Do you want to become a Data Scientist?

Data Science Degree

How to decide on the career path for becoming a Data Scientist?

Data Scientist has become such a glorified job title, that nowadays some have started calling themselves data scientists, based on the work they do and not because of the data science degree they have, while others acquire the job title by procuring a particular data science degree and some through data science online course certifications.

A recent report released by RJMetrics reveals that there are 11,400 self-identifying data scientists on LinkedIn. The report counts only those people who proclaim to be data scientists and does not consider which skills made them a data scientist and which did not. RJMetrics report on State of Data Science claims that 52% of data scientists have entered the industry just 4 years ago but there is an increasing focus on data science degree programs only recently.

With the immense growth of data science across myriad industries like retail, energy, finance, travel and government, universities and MOOC providers have identified the significance of offering data scientist degrees and certified data science courses in this field. New Masters data science programs from MIT, UC Berkeley, Columbia, NYU, John Hopkins (JHU) and MOOCs from providers like Coursera, DeZyre, Udacity, and Udemy have opened up several opportunities for individuals to learn data science and pursue a lucrative career.

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One can learn data science anywhere and a data science degree is not necessary to become a data scientist. In fact, the top data science practitioners Jeff Hammerbacher, election forecaster Nate Silver and Moneyball brain Paul DePodesta do not have a Master’s in data science degree. Even the top Kagglers who participate in data science competitions don’t have a MS in data science or a PhD degree either because a single Master’s Data Science Degree or a MOOC cannot cover the multi-disciplinary nature of data science in-depth. Professionals seeking to learn data science can choose one or two areas of interest, gain expertise in those areas and the remaining skills can be mastered on the job. There are many people doing great “Data Science” even without taking any data science graduate programs as many companies have data science teams which are comprised of experts from different disciplines and not a unicorn data scientist. There are top universities like NYU, Columbia, Berkeley offering Masters Data Science degree with a Data Scientist job title but many of the current data scientists working in the industry do not have a specific master’s data science degree.

We did a comparison of few notable quality Masters-level data science degree programs that will provide you a leg up over other data science degree programs-

1) UC Berkeley Masters in Data Science

Students can keep up with their current jobs as they pursue the online degree in a virtual classroom. The best part about this university program is that students get to complete a data science degree in less than 2 years. They do have a part time data science degree. Even though it is an online degree program, students have to attend a four to five-day immersion session on the Berkeley Campus. UC Berkeley Data Science Degree helps students make sense of real-world phenomena and day-to-day activities by mining big data to identifying patterns, trends and relationships.

Berkeley's MIDS program focuses on business problem-solving and technical skills -- a key combination for aspiring data scientists- said Steve Weber, a professor at UC Berkeley's School of Information

Location: Berkeley, CA

Cost: $60,000

Platform: Online

Duration: 20 months (9 Semesters)

2) NYU MS in Data Science

NYU MS in Data Science program is for people who have a strong foundation in computer science, applied statistics and mathematics. The main emphasis in this data science program is on the development of novel methods for doing data science. NYU offers both part time and full time programs. Students (both part-time and full-time) are required to complete all 36 credits within 5 years from enrolling for the data science degree.

Location – New York

Cost: $53,784

Platform: In-Person

Duration: 24 months

3) Columbia University -Master of Science in Data Science

 Columbia University’s data science degree program provides in-depth training in data science with a semester length capstone project, that helps students integrate their learning experience with practical applications in the real world. The interdisciplinary curriculum helps students closely work with the industry affiliates on their particular interest and skill sets, by choosing the desired elective track.

Location: New York

Cost: $49,200 (approximately $1782 per credit)

Platform: In-person

Duration: 8 Semester (requiring 30 credits)

4) University of Washington -Data Scientist Masters in Seattle

This master of data science degree is meant for someone with a limited programming background and basic understanding of math and statistics concepts. People with a light technical background can reap a lot of benefits from this data science degree program but the only drawback is that it does not cover Hadoop and related tools for processing large datasets, which could be a problem when working with big datasets in the industry.

Cost: $3300

Platform: Online

Duration: 3 semesters

5) John Hopkins Data Science Specialization

John Hopkins Data Science Specialization helps students learn fundamentals of data science through R programming but is not a full time data science degree. It covers all the basic concepts of data science like machine learning, statistical inference and exploratory data analysis through R programming only. If you are in a dilemma if John Hopkins Data Science Specialization is the best fit for your skills and career goals – please Click Here.

Cost: $490

Platform: Online

Duration: 9 Week Duration (4 Weeks Courses +Capstone project)

A formal data science degree is rewarding (as you invest big money and time) and does matter if you are applying for a higher level data scientist position in top tech companies like Facebook, Apple, Google, etc. However, there is an obvious trade-off between the two. With one or more data science online courses - one can easily get up to speed quickly and nail a job with the sexiest job title of a Data Scientist. On the flip side, taking a 2-year data science degree or a longer PhD program could mean that you are out of action in one of the hottest industry for 2 years. One cannot really predict the opportunities that will be there in the field of data science after 2 years and how will the industry shape up, once you have the data science degree in hand. There is no guarantee that the job role of a Data Scientist will still be the same by the time you graduate from the university, after 2 long years. Also, when compared to the low-cost economic data science online courses offered by DeZyre, Coursera, Udacity and Udemy - that get a lion’s share of attention in the world of online education, the cost of data science degrees offered by these universities are bound to raise eyebrows.

To take a step by step approach on an expensive data science Master’s degree might not be an ideal solution because no data science degree from any of the top universities can cover all the requisites to becoming a data scientist - as there will always be novel technologies coming up in the data science educational bandwagon year on year. The best way to approach learning data science to take up a modular approach in and learn them through short certified quality MOOC courses that probably provide more hands-on, practical knowledge on the concepts of data science, at a much lower cost when compared to the Master’s data science degree programs.

However, when students hear about taking MOOC’s from providers like Coursera, DeZyre, Udacity and Udemy, the first two questions that pop-up in their mind are-

  1. Do these data science online courses provide necessary data scientist skills to perform well?
  2. Is it enough to take these, data science online courses to get job as a data scientist?

Do these data science online courses provide necessary data scientist skills to perform well?

They definitely do provide all the essential skills for becoming a data scientist and the quality of data science online courses from DeZyre, Coursera, Udacity and Udemy is very high. At DeZyre, we have identified the need for data science skill set and offer a comprehensive Data Science Online Course in Python and R, which is created by experts who are currently working in the industry as Data Scientists who are currently working with top IT companies.  This data science online course helps beginners gain an in-depth understanding of basic concepts of data science i.e. statistics, machine learning and algorithmic implementations in popular data science programming languages- Python and R. It’s not just the fluffy theoretical classes where things are always smooth sailing. You get to know about the real world problems a data scientist encounters regularly –anomalies, missing data, corrupt data, etc. and how to solve them. One-on-one mentoring sessions with best data scientists in the industry helps students easily understand the entire data science process.

Is it enough to take these, data science online courses to get job as a data scientist?

A data science degree or a MOOC cannot get you a job as a data scientist, it is ultimately the skills that matter. Having a data science degree is not a bad thing but without experience and internship, cracking the interview for a data scientist job, at top tech companies is difficult. However, not having a data science degree helps candidates prove that they are more than willing to become a data scientist- by having a data science online course certification with many hands-on projects and a GitHub account validating your practical data science skills. Hands-on project experience shows employers that a candidate can actually do things on the job.

It is not necessary to have a data science degree or a post graduate degree, 20 years of experience or be skilful with every data related tool and technique available for doing data science. All it requires is enough baseline knowledge with the ability to adapt and learn.

In a world where taking time off a job - for pursuing a data science degree is increasingly difficult, MOOCs, in our opinion, are an ideal medium to learn data science. DeZyre’s data science online course provides people with an exciting opportunity to learn data science through hands- on projects. At DeZyre, our motive is providing data science courses in areas that will really help you become successful as a data scientist in the industry and advance your career. DeZyre’s Data Science Online Course in Python and R is one of the best platform for learning data science. If you are a self-learner and motivated to learn data science under an industry expert’s guidance, then you should take this data science online course and drill down into this template for better understanding.

What career path are you choosing to become a data scientist- Data Science Degree or a MOOC?

If you do not have any experience in the IT industry and are looking to switch career into data science, DeZyre career counsellors might help facilitate your transition into the industry. Career counsellors at DeZyre will consider your qualifications carefully and help you find a relevant data science online course, that is an ideal match for your skills, educational background and professional objectives. Please drop an email to anjali@dezyre.com with your career related queries or let us know in comments below.




Learn how to do data analysis in Python

Currently have 3answers
Q: Do you want to become a Data Scientist?
Subbi Need course & certification
Oct 16 2017, 07:58 PM
abdueng4@gmail Yes
Sep 17 2017, 04:39 PM
Q: What career path are you choosing to become a data scientist- Data Science Degree or a MOOC?
Justin MOOC
Dec 16 2017, 07:47 PM

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