Careers

University vs. College for career in data / biz analytics / business tech / information system..

  • Last Updated:
  • May 10th, 2017 12:41 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 18, 2017
19 posts
1 upvote

University vs. College for career in data / biz analytics / business tech / information system..

Hi Forum,

I am 28, applying for immigration and have a few years of work experience overseas. I want to work in the field of data science or business analytics, or management information system, after landing in Canada.

I have a Bachelor's and a taught Master's degree in business field (both degrees outside Canada) and, because the degrees and experience are irrelevant to this field in Canada, I want to go back to school first to gain both CS education and local experience, in order to increase my chance of finding a job in Canada.

After some research I find college cs-related diplomas (2 or 3 years with co-op) and university programs at undergraduate levels (program duration and, sometimes, co-op availability depend on the number of credits transferred and might take longer time than college if do co-op). Which one would be more proper to pursue given my background and career goals?

I think colleges (e.g. Algonquin, Fanshawe) are more practical with co-op and I could graduate sooner. University degrees (UBC, SFU, Calgary, McMaster, just to name a few) are more recognized by employers and but takes more time to finish (probably graduate at the time when I pass 30..)

Thanks a lot for the inputs and appreciate it if you could name some locally well-known program.

UPDATE AT 2017/4/28:-

So basically I have three types of choice in terms of education program:

1. University professional master's in business analytics (1-2 year in length, some with internship or co-op)
2. University second undergraduate study in computer science (apply as transfer student, possibly need 3 years to complete or more with co-op)
3. College Diploma in computer science / computer programmer (2-3 years with coop depends on the program)

Which choice would be better for me to transfer to the field of data/analytics/biz tech given my age, business background and zero Canadian experience. Thank you all for your help.
Last edited by tzhang35 on Apr 19th, 2017 3:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
49 replies
Sr. Member
Dec 24, 2007
706 posts
59 upvotes
GTA
I wanted to know as well. I'm planning to make a second career in IT and ultimately develop to BA or ERP system implementation professional. My first career is in life science (degree) and sales in somewhat related industry (past 5 years working experiences), and I feel the industry is too too narrow and growth is very limited. I will soon be on maternity leave for a while and I'm seriously considering to change my career...
Sr. Member
Dec 24, 2007
706 posts
59 upvotes
GTA
To OP, I've checked some curriculum descriptions from various CS programs in GTA and I think college programs are more practical. If you had working experiences before you should have some ideas. Not sure if you feel the same.

I've already been blown hard for learning theories that are not useful in working environment (maybe ok for research type job) in my first career and don't want to make the same mistake.
Newbie
Feb 19, 2017
37 posts
22 upvotes
Do yourself a favor by performing some proper research.

First, CS degrees are completely different from data science / business analytics ones.
Second, data science / business analytics masters degrees typically do not require an bachelor's in the same discipline.

So, why would you do an undergrad degree or a college diploma when you can just do a master's? Online ones from even top programs will cost less than a full undergrad degree.
Sr. Member
Nov 13, 2013
592 posts
200 upvotes
In my view a college degree is a better bridge from an out of country education than a Master's degree. Practical with good industry connections.
Sr. Member
Sep 29, 2008
603 posts
67 upvotes
Mississauga
If you are actually interested in problem solving and computer science then get the CS degree, it will serve you way better than a college diploma. A year or two extra in the grand scheme of things is not much when we are talking about what you will be doing for the rest of your life.

If by data science you mean highly paid desirable jobs in data science, then you need a strong CS and math background. For most data science jobs you also need a masters degree and even a bachelors in CS won't cut it. If you are more interested in MIS then that is very different from CS and you should be able to do just fine without a CS major.
Sr. Member
Sep 4, 2007
831 posts
210 upvotes
Edmonton
If you want to do data science, you need a blend of skills - research/writing, statistics, databases/data manipulation, and programming. So if your business master's degree was heavy in quantitative finance, you don't need another degree. If not, a master's degree in statistics or economics (strong focus on econometrics preferably) would be viable options too. Master's degrees take 1-2 years.

For compsci, I thought about taking this myself (but ultimately did not):
https://www.cs.ubc.ca/students/undergra ... ond-degree

It's a 2 year degree program from UBC for people who already hold degrees. This is good as long as you can convince them that your degrees are legitimate and get the transfer credits you need. Other people here can speak to the quality/reputation of UBC comp sci. It seemed ok last time I looked. Plus there's co-op! But again, unsure of quality. This is probably your shortest comp sci option and I think better than anything a college can offer. You can probably use this for MIS jobs, but actually your business degrees should be enough to get you a business analyst role.
Sr. Member
Sep 29, 2008
603 posts
67 upvotes
Mississauga
UBC has an excellent CS department. I would put them right behind Waterloo and U of T.
Jr. Member
Nov 26, 2015
181 posts
54 upvotes
Montréal
Like above, you'll need a blend of knowledge of everything.

If you want to pursue in non-machine learning data science you should take a Statistics degree. You just need R and Python (plus a few packages like panda) as programming and it's very simple, comparing to those CS stuff. You don't need to know what a pointer is, what is thread vs process or how to use valgrind to do analysis. For machine-learning data science a Computer Science degree may be better.

Or even get into a data science boot camp (though I think you may not be eligible because you are non-resident & non-citizen).
Deal Addict
Nov 2, 2013
4305 posts
677 upvotes
Edmonton, AB
I studied the UBC CPSC program for a while.

CPSC itself is very theoretical and to actually get a job in the field, you often have to have on-going new knowledge and skills, say of like the different programming languages. It's the theory of computing you learn. The field itself is very vast and it depends on what you want to get into. The actual list of job qualifications is very long, with the degree/diploma being only one of them.

Can't say for other schools, but the people at UBC CPSC are not normal. They are on an entirely different level and people who normally ace other classes sometimes can barely pass a CPSC one. They are the type of people to take Calculus III for fun. The student body is not the typical university one. The curriculum also throws you almost all theoretical material, but they issue you projects in certain languages that they don't even teach you- they expect you to learn them on your own time and apply then to the projects.

If you took a practical college program at like say BCIT, you will learn more practical, job-focused skills and likely get a job in the field faster. It doesn't give you the whole theoretical background the university programs will though. Some argue that it gives you a better grounding to tackle programming languages or other practical aspects of computing, but most people wonder what they're looking at.
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 18, 2017
19 posts
1 upvote
pandorazw wrote:
Apr 19th, 2017 1:28 pm
To OP, I've checked some curriculum descriptions from various CS programs in GTA and I think college programs are more practical. If you had working experiences before you should have some ideas. Not sure if you feel the same.

I've already been blown hard for learning theories that are not useful in working environment (maybe ok for research type job) in my first career and don't want to make the same mistake.
Yes I've learned from multiple sources that colleges are more practical and even heard university graduates coming back to colleges to get more training.. But since my work exp. is not in IT field so I cannot exactly tell whether it is more hands-on from looking at the webpages and course list. But I've seen the college courses teaches you the programming language whereas the name of university courses uses more words like "Algorithms" "systems" or "engineering".

On the other hand, I think you need university degrees to get a job in the big-name companies in Canada, but generally speaking the chances of finding this type of job for immigrants is lower due to lack of local experience and adaptability to the workplace, and university costs more time..

that's why I'm very entangled about the choice of college or university..
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 18, 2017
19 posts
1 upvote
Walch1102 wrote:
Apr 19th, 2017 1:46 pm
Do yourself a favor by performing some proper research.

First, CS degrees are completely different from data science / business analytics ones.
Correct. I think data science program is more focused on quantitative methods and business analytics programs is a mix of stats, programming, and business
Walch1102 wrote:
Apr 19th, 2017 1:46 pm
Second, data science / business analytics masters degrees typically do not require an bachelor's in the same discipline.

So, why would you do an undergrad degree or a college diploma when you can just do a master's? Online ones from even top programs will cost less than a full undergrad degree.
Correct. They accept students from different background (actually I applied to some programs of this kind and get admitted), but that's exactly why I reconsider to opt for a undergrad degree or diploma instead, even university cost me more time, because I was worried about the "employability" of these programs for new immigrants like myself.

These programs feature introductory courses and are usually less than 2 years in lengths (1-year for the Schulich MBAN and 8-month for the new UBC MDS, which is nicknamed "glorified R bootcamp" by someone on reddit). It would be good to learn the necessary knowledge and I understand you can learn the programming and other stuff on Coursera. But I am just worried that the training is less solid and I couldn't compete with CS or Math graduates..

IMHO these program are better suited for people already in this field but lack the qualification to further their careers.
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 18, 2017
19 posts
1 upvote
fogetmylogin wrote:
Apr 19th, 2017 4:21 pm
In my view a college degree is a better bridge from an out of country education than a Master's degree. Practical with good industry connections.
That's also what I thought (Experience is king), but many employers also look at school reputation to some degree and put "a degree in relevant field" in their job descriptions. I just don't know whether my oversea business degrees would count..
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 18, 2017
19 posts
1 upvote
motime wrote:
Apr 19th, 2017 5:22 pm
If you are actually interested in problem solving and computer science then get the CS degree, it will serve you way better than a college diploma. A year or two extra in the grand scheme of things is not much when we are talking about what you will be doing for the rest of your life.

If by data science you mean highly paid desirable jobs in data science, then you need a strong CS and math background. For most data science jobs you also need a masters degree and even a bachelors in CS won't cut it. If you are more interested in MIS then that is very different from CS and you should be able to do just fine without a CS major.
Thanks - I enjoyed programming and "computer" things in my work and school age, although those stuff are pretty rudimentary compared to what is taught in CS degree..

For data science vs. MIS, I guess I will just see how well I could handle those real stuff when I come back to school, as well as the situation of future job market
[OP]
Newbie
Apr 18, 2017
19 posts
1 upvote
frozenmelon wrote:
Apr 19th, 2017 6:25 pm
If you want to do data science, you need a blend of skills - research/writing, statistics, databases/data manipulation, and programming. So if your business master's degree was heavy in quantitative finance, you don't need another degree. If not, a master's degree in statistics or economics (strong focus on econometrics preferably) would be viable options too. Master's degrees take 1-2 years.
What do you think of master's degree in operation research? would that be quantitative and "blended" enough? I have this preconception that OR is usually maths and stat (e.g. modelling) but I won't learn enough on database manipulation or programming ...
frozenmelon wrote:
Apr 19th, 2017 6:25 pm
For compsci, I thought about taking this myself (but ultimately did not):
https://www.cs.ubc.ca/students/undergra ... ond-degree

It's a 2 year degree program from UBC for people who already hold degrees. This is good as long as you can convince them that your degrees are legitimate and get the transfer credits you need. Other people here can speak to the quality/reputation of UBC comp sci. It seemed ok last time I looked. Plus there's co-op! But again, unsure of quality. This is probably your shortest comp sci option and I think better than anything a college can offer. You can probably use this for MIS jobs, but actually your business degrees should be enough to get you a business analyst role.
Sadly the admission to 17Fall intake is closed when I first learned the BCS program a few weeks ago..I think the program is very well organized with coop and located in BC with a lot job openings in ICT (except the really high housing price in greater vancouver area..)

My immi application is submitted so expecting PR later this year..but I don't want to wait another year so I am exploring programs with winter admission.. (seems only few school available)

Top