10 Questions to Ask Yourself when Considering a Continuing Education Program

Tips for Deciding between Project, Graduate school, Bootcamp or Fellowship to help you Land your Next Role

Post was originally published in April 2020 and has been updated in June 2020 for relevancy.

I'm often asked for recommendations for the best programs for continuing education, such as graduate programs (Masters or Ph.D.), bootcamps or fellowships. My answer* is always: "it depends"... it depends on many, many factors and opportunity costs. To help you better decide if you should work on a side project, or go to graduate school/bootcamp/fellowship and if a given program is the right fit, if/when you're considering going back to school, I recommend that you ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What gaps are you trying to fill (if any) with the project, degree or course work? How will it get you to where you want to go next?

  2. How do you learn best?

    • Do you prefer self-paced: through books/videos/blogs?

    • Are you more comfortable with instructor-based learning, through college/university/bootcamp?

    • Do you prefer to be application-based, by working on a project? If so, please see my tips for a side project here.

  3. How much time can you allocate to the program, per week and in years?

  4. Do you prefer a full-time program that's all in-person? or a is a part-time program that's after work a better fit? or something else entirely?

  5. What is the structure of the program? What are the course requirements? Is there a capstone/thesis and/or qualifying exam requirements?

  6. How much does it cost? Do you have to relocate?

  7. Is there 1+ professor/faculty with the expertise that will help you reach you goal from question (1)?

  8. (If applicable) Is there any financial aid? Will you company reimburse you some/all for the tuition fees; what are those reimbursement terms?

  9. Where are graduates of the program getting placed after graduation? Are those industries and companies you also want to work for?

  10. What are the requirements and application deadlines for the program?

  11. (Bonus) Request to meet students and faculty, to hear more about their experience and tips.

Keywords: Graduate school, Data Science careers

You may also like:

* Irina is a lecturer and Board member at UCLA's Masters of Applied Statistics Program.