Tag Archives: school

School of Data Science Launched by Persontyle

Recently, Persontyle launched their School of Data Science. The goal is to produce data science training and education for professionals. Here is a brief list of the type of programs being offered.

The offerings a not free, but they look very good and are taught in cities around the globe.

They are different than Coursera and Udacity because the training is more specific and individualized. Plus, it is targeted at businesses and working professionals. A number of other companies offer data science training, but Persontyle appears to be the only ones offering data science training without trying to push their own products. If you or your organization is looking for training in data science, I would highly recommend The School of Data Science from Persontyle.

You Don't Need a PhD to do Data Science

Many of the top data scientists you will read about or hear speak have PhD degrees. Therefore, many people think a PhD is a requirement for becoming a data scientist. That is completely not true. There is a lot of work in the data science field that does not require a PhD. In all actuality, there is not a lot of data science work that does require a PhD.

What is a PhD and why would a person get one? A PhD degree is a research degree that usually takes between two and five years of study beyond a master’s degree. The majority of the program will be focused on researching and expanding upon a very specific topic. A PhD student will push the edge of known human knowledge.

In daily tasks, most data scientists do not go that far and do not need a PhD. Most of the necessary skills can be obtained at the bachelors or masters level. Combine that education with the amazing tools available and some experience and being a data scientist is definitely achievable.

The reasons many data scientists have PhD degrees are because of the curiosity and love for learning. Those are essential traits of both a data scientists and PhD students. However, you can be curious and love learning without attending enough school to obtain a PhD.

All of this is not to say that earning a PhD is bad. If you really love learning, thrive in the academic environment, and have the desire; then definitely go for the PhD. However, do not let a lack of a PhD stop you from doing data science.

Choosing a Data Science Graduate Program

Due to the large list of Colleges with Data Science Degrees, I receive a number of email inquires with questions about choosing a program. I have not attended any of the programs, and I am not sure how qualified I am to provide guidance. Anyhow, I will do my best to share what information I do have.

Originally, the list started out with 5 schools. Now the list is well over 100 schools, so I have not been able to keep up with all the intricate details of every program. There are not very many undergraduate options, and the list only contains a few PhD programs, so the information here will be focused on pursuing a masters degree.

Start by asking 2 questions:

  1. What are my current data science skills?
  2. What are my future data science goals?

Those 2 questions can provide a lot of guidance. Understand that data science consists of a number of different topic areas:

  1. Mathematical Foundation (Calculus/Matrix Operations)
  2. Computing (DB, programming, machine learning, NoSQL)
  3. Communication (visualization, presentation, writing)
  4. Statistics (regression, trees, classification, diagnostics)
  5. Business (domain specific knowledge)

After seeing the above lists, this is where things get cloudy. Everyone brings a different set of existing skills, and everyone has different future goals. Here are a few scenarios that might clear things up.

Data Scientist

The most common approach is to attempt to build knowledge in all 5 topic areas. If this is your goal, find the topic areas where you are weakest and target a graduate program to help you bolster those weak skills. In the end, you will come out with a broad range of very desired skills.

Specialist

A different approach is to select one topic area and get really, really good. For example, maybe you want to be an expert on machine learning. If that is your goal, then maybe a traditional computer science graduate program is what is best. In the end, you will be well-suited to be an effective member of a data science team or pursue a PhD.

Data Manager

A third and also common approach is from people that want to help fill the expected void of 1.5 million data-savvy managers. These people do not necessarily want to know the deep details of the algorithms, but they would like an understanding of what the algorithms can do and when to use which algorithm. In this case, a graduate program from a business school (MBA) might be a good choice. Just make sure the program also involves coverage from the non-business topics of data science.

Example

I think NYU is the best example of a school that can help a person achieve just about any data science goal. The NYU program is a university-wide initiative, so the program is integrated with many departments (math, CS, Stats, Business, and others). Therefore, a student could possibly tailor a program to reach a variety of future goals. Plus, New York has a lot of companies solving interesting data science problems.

Conclusion

There you have it. It does not narrow the choices down, but it should help to provide some guidance. Other factors to consider are length of a program and/or location.

Good Luck with your decision, and feel free to leave a comment if you have and good/bad experiences with any of the particular graduate programs.

School Of Data

School of Data is new site aimed at teaching people how to collect, process, analyze, and visualize data. The goal is to produce data courses and award certifications. Most of the content will be focused around the online handbook, Data Wrangling Handbook. The handbook is open source and hosted at github. Currently the course materials are still under development, so others are welcome to get involved. I believe the plan is to start offering courses this fall (2012).

It will be exciting to see how this site develops. Do you plan to get involved? Would you be interested in the courses?

Update: fixed a bad link