Data Science Immersions: Student Experiences

Author: Samantha Adamczewski

Jennifer Robinson talks to Data Science students with Roger Woodard during Immersion on Notre Dame's campus in 2020.

The optional immersions are an invaluable part of the Online Masters in Data Science Program. The content we deliver is immensely valuable but it’s also about the personal connections that are made. Immersions give our students the opportunity to spend in-person time with the classmates they typically only see in an online atmosphere.

Going back to graduate school is a big commitment, and it’s nice to know that you have an entire cohort going through it with you.

In addition to an academic schedule during an Immersion, we also schedule time for fun activities and networking. I could write extensively about how impactful the immersions are for students, but let’s hear from the students themselves instead.


Ashley Klesmit, Class of 2019, described her experience at immersion as her favorite part of the program.

“Meeting the people that I would spend the next 21 months with, in person, was incredibly beneficial,” Ashley said. “[Immersion] has made the collaboration and camaraderie, unlike anything I imagined.”

Besides the camaraderie at Immersion, Ashley also valued the chance to hear leading data science practitioners discuss industry insights and best practices.

“I found Laura Godlewski, a Data Scientist at Facebook, particularly interesting,” Ashley said. “When I think of data science, I typically think of using analytics to drive business results, but Laura’s job focuses more on the human aspect of sharing memories with Facebook users. The human aspect is what attracted me to the data science field initially, so I found her presentation very engaging.”

Patrick McCullough, Class of 2019, shared a similar perspective.

“As a young professional one of my favorite aspects of the immersions is the ability to network with and learn from individuals with a wide range of backgrounds and experience.”

Over the years, many students have taken the opportunity to talk about how immersion impacted them. Here’s what they had to say:

Ken Shelley, Class of 2020: “My time at Notre Dame during the Immersion weekend reinforced that this is more than your typical online program; this program goes deeper and wants to connect you with professors, students, and the University.”

Denee McClain, Class of 2020: “I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Immersion. I really loved meeting my classmates and the introductory lectures made me feel excited about what I was about to learn. I left really feeling like a University of Notre Dame student, and I don’t think I would have felt that way had I stayed behind my computer screen.” 

Mark Smith, Class of 2020: “The Immersion experience is a key differentiator for Notre Dame’s online master’s program. It allowed us to meet both our fellow students and our professors face-to-face over a number of days. This helped to establish a real sense of team identity, and allowed us to experience the impressive campus environment.”

Rodrigo Benavides Martinez, Class of 2020: “The Immersion program was a great way to get to know the classmates that you will be working with for the next 2 years. Also, having this in-person interaction makes the online experience much richer, since you have already interacted with your colleagues and faculty in person as well.”

Andrew Bittner, Class of 2024: "It's very easy to get locked into trying to figure out how to use what we're learning to complete a project at work, or implement the next software platform, or get the next promotion, or earn the next raise. The immersions, and especially the industry speakers, gave me a view to possibilities that I hadn't never considered available. More than merely expanding my view of where data science could be applied, the immersions gave me an opportunity to see an aspirational version of myself that I couldn't have previously seen, to consider career trajectories I'd never thought possible, and to have the confidence to know I'd been given the skills, knowledge, and training to pursue them."

Kevin Gallagher, Class of 2024: "In-person Notre Dame immersions, experienced in places like Raleigh and Palo Alto, add a vital tangible dimension to virtual learning, deepening our engagement with what we are learning and strengthening our connections with peers in the program."

If you’d like to learn more about being a Notre Dame Data Science student, click here to join our team on April 4 for an information session about the program.