Students Striving for the Notre Dame Edge in Data Science

Author: Staff

A woman looks at a desktop monitor with graphs and data on it.

Through a personalized approach and integrative curriculum, Notre Dame’s online master’s in data science program is designed to help students acquire the skills necessary to become leaders in the data science field.

In the excerpts below, four students from the program’s inaugural cohort discuss how the program design and format is enabling them to get the Notre Dame Edge in data science.

Achieving Work/Life Balance

Tony Galvan, an A&T employee with a family, began thinking about data science after reading an article published in the Harvard Business Review, “Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.” He felt excited about pursuing a new career in this emerging field.

Shortly after, he learned Notre Dame, his alma mater, was launching an online master’s in data science. He felt like their online program would be a good fit for him for several reasons.   

As a busy professional with a family, he needed a program that aligned well with his current lifestyle.

“Today, I have a family and a demanding professional job,” he explained. “The online master’s in data science program aligns well with my current lifestyle. It allows me to work at my own pace as I balance my work and family responsibilities, yet it’s online format is designed to build strong connections between faculty and my fellow classmates, so I feel a sense of camaraderie and engagement similar to when I was an undergraduate on campus.”

Going back to school after many years and as a working professional, Tony wanted a small program that would nurture him as a student.

He’s found the synchronous sessions allow the students and professors to make real connections.

The professors and staff are very responsive and helpful, and they really care about the students and strive to make sure they will be successful data scientistsAs Tony remarked:

“In this program, I feel like we are part of the Notre Dame family.”

For Tony, one of the most appealing aspects about making a career pivot to data science is the unique skill set that data scientists possess and how meaningful the data scientist role is within businesses and organizations.

“Participating in Notre Dame’s master’s in data science program will allow me to set myself apart and pivot my career in a whole new direction that capitalizes on an important, new and exciting field, where I can make a significant difference and be a data science leader.”

Read more about Tony’s student experience in his blog, Why I Chose Notre Dame Data Science.

Pursuing Career Advancement in Data Science

Mitch Speer was excited about the opportunity to work in his current position, a data analyst at a credit union, while gaining the skills of a data scientist in Notre Dame’s online master’s program.

The possibility to apply concepts from his coursework in his job was a big benefit for him.

“The ability to continue my professional career and be in class at the same time was a real attraction for me. It ties in well with current position as a data analyst.”

He also wanted a program that would prepare him with the exceptional skills employers are seeking in data scientists.

“Going in a new direction with my career, the gravity of a master’s degree versus just a certificate or completing a course was a draw for me. Since this was a career pivot for me,” said Mitch. “I wanted a more in-depth program like a master’s degree.”

In addition, he likes that the program is accessible and manageable for busy working adults.

“My wife and I both work. I started coaching football in addition to my career as a data analyst at a credit union,” explained Mitch. “Since the start of the program, we have taken 4 plane trips out of town and bought our first home. I can easily access the platform and the material from the airport or a hotel. I’m still able to keep up with the material and prepare for the weekly synchronous sessions.”

Read more about Mitch’s student insights in our blog, 5 Valuable Insights from Data Science Students.

Benefiting from a Unique Online Learning Experience

When Sarah Baylor, a former math teacher, was thinking about a career pivot to data science, she tried a few online self-paced programs to learn more about the field.

“I decided to try some online, go at your own pace programs,” she said. “While a lot of them have good information, there’s not a lot of people who are in the same position as you. If you get stuck, you’re just kind of stuck.”

She decided she was interested in a career in data science, but she wanted an online learning environment where she could connect with the faculty and her classmates.

“Being in a program where there’s actually other classmates who are in the same week as you are and to be able to ask questions of your professors and fellow classmates is a really important part of the program, and it really does help the learning process.”

The student-centered approach that defines the Notre Dame experience is an integral part of our online master’s in data science program.

For Sarah, it was exactly the learning experience she was seeking in an online program.

“You become friends with your fellow classmates, and you get know your professors,” Sarah said. “I think it’s unique for an online program to have so much human interaction and connection, even though I don’t actually see my classmates and professors in person.”

Watch Sarah talk about her student experience in our Student-led Info Session.

Developing New Skills and Competencies to Enhance Career Opportunities

The learning environment in the Notre Dame’s online master’s program is designed to encourage success for students with a wide range of capabilities and backgrounds.

Ashley Klesmit graduated with a degree in business administration and works in Human Resources at AT&T.

She was excited to learn that her employer was sponsoring an online master’s in data science program with Notre Dame, and she wanted to be a part of it.

“AT&T has made a plan to retrain its entire workforce with the skills for the future. If my long-term employer, AT&T, was going to sponsor a master’s program with a prestigious university like Notre Dame, I knew that it would be an impactful program that would benefit my career and set me apart from others.”

Students are not required to have a math and computer science background to be admitted into the program. Ashley appreciates having classmates and AT&T peers with a wide range of educational backgrounds and professional backgrounds.

“Although I’m a web developer, I work in the HR business unit at AT&T. Having classmates and peers who are in different business units has helped to create a fuller picture of the company and the data science field at AT&T.”

Ashley champions the unique learning experience she’s enjoying in Notre Dame’s online master’s program.

“Since I have a busy, full-time job at AT&T, I was quite nervous about taking on such a huge commitment. However, this program has exceeded my expectations, and I’m excited to see how my career changes after completing this master’s degree.”

Read more about the value of AT&T and Notre Dame’s online master’s in data science connection in Ashley’s blog, Why I Want to Be a Data Scientist and Why I Chose Notre Dame.