With visa norms tightening across the globe, reports suggest that the number of Indian students enrolling in US colleges is declining. While many are blaming Donald Trump-led administration for it, the fact of the matter is that American universities are finding it difficult to have diversity in their classrooms. According to a USA Today report, Indian students recorded the biggest drop in international enrollments with a 6 percent decrease in international graduate students from 2016 to 2017. This was especially noticed in two major fields — computer science and engineering.
As of now, there is a huge hue and cry about the shortage of data scientists, with data science being one of the most lucrative career paths. Given this backdrop, would studying data science abroad increase the chances of employment in India?
We read news about the demand for analytics skills rising steadily, but there is also a huge deficit on the supply side. The phenomenon is global and countries like US, Canada, UK and India are no exception. A McKinsey Global Institute study had predicted that the US will face a shortage of about 190,000 data scientists and 1.5 million managers and analysts who can understand and make decisions using big data by 2018. In spite of big data analytics being the hottest job right now, there is still a large number of unfilled jobs across the globe due to a shortage of required skills.
Can A Master’s Degree In Data Analytics Lead To A Better Career Path?
1) MS Degree Scores Over Courses Offered In India: An MS in Data Science is an integration of computer science and statistics, where students are required to have a strong foundation in maths and computational programming as well. Now, the curriculum across the board includes topics such as machine learning, data mining, applied statistics, probability models, inferences, database management, data analysis, data visualisation and big data analytics, among others.
A Master’s degree from abroad has been equated to an applied data science boot camp, rather than just another academic credential. Because of the rigorous nature of the programs, the coursework is such that it trains candidates with a technical background to meet the growing industry demand. MS is a great value addition to the CV as it lends credibility; and if not in the US, it will help in getting a high-paying job in India.
On the other hand, in India, you can complete a postgraduate course online or in a hybrid format while maintaining your day job. It may require more work and tinkering of several online courses, but it will definitely boost your resume to some extent.
2) Master’s Programme Through Company-Funded Assistantships: One of the key features of Master’s programme is the opportunity for company-funded assistantships. If you belong to a top-tier organisation, chances are that your company can partially fund your higher education. There could also be a caveat to finish an internship or contract work at the particular organisation for a certain period of time. However, for a company to sponsor your education, you need to show exemplary credentials and passion for the data science field.
1) Job Opportunities In India Vs Regulatory Policies: Different student forums have depicted different situations faced by Indian students abroad. One of the key grievances is that the chances of them getting a job in the US are getting stonewalled due to visa regulations.
Now compare this to a wide range of roles available in India for candidates who hold a Master’s degree in analytics or data science: business analyst, management analyst, computer systems analysts, information security analysts, statisticians and even researchers. If advanced degrees and MS coursework is a prerequisite for data science candidates, then a degree from abroad can definitely increase one’s chances of getting a high-paying job in India.
2) Getting a Master’s From Top-Tier Institute: Unless one does an MS from one of the top 10 schools in the world, like CMU, Cornell or Stanford, among others, chances of getting good jobs are slim. There is also a section of experts who believe that a Master’s in a specialised field like data science or big data analytics wouldn’t do much for the career as opposed to an MS in computer science or statistics. Given the recent hype around big data and data science, several international universities jump started data science programmes to cash in on the big data wave. The curriculum designed is largely representative of what top-notch universities like Berkeley, CMU, Stanford and MIT offer.
3) Master’s Degree Abroad Is Extremely Costly: By and large, schools fall into three distinct categories – top tier institutes like MIT and Stanford; top-notch engineering schools known for excellent curricula like Cornell and CMU. And finally, the mid-tier universities whose curriculum is representative of top universities and are playing an active role in organising networking events and placement services. However, regardless of the university ranking, a STEM degree can set one back by $60,000, which coupled with the cost of living and upkeep, would make it even costlier.
Data science-focused Master’s degree gives an extra edge to one’s CV and exponentially improve chances of scoring a high-paying job in the home country. The coursework is exhaustive and the programs are led by stellar faculties who have deep association with industry leaders as well. Students enrolled in MS programs are loaded with projects in every semester which helps them build a strong portfolio for the interview process. The combination of theory, applied learning and hands-on projects make them a better option than traditional postgraduate courses offered in India. Students who are interested in research can also opt for a PhD in niche area such as NLP or data mining, among others.
But does it necessarily lead to an exceptional career path? Sure, the Master’s programme will open doors to many lucrative career paths in India. But again, if you believe you can strike a balance on your own by stringing together online certifications, boot camps and work experience, then an MS option is not mandatory for your career.
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Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.