15 January 2015

European Master Programs in Data Analysis

Some time ago, in 2012, I decided that I wanted to continue my education and get a Master's Degree. I wanted to get more involved into data analysis and related things like machine learning or data mining. Secondly, this had to be a program in Europe because I didn't want to travel too far - back then I lived in Poland. And lastly, I wanted to find a program with both tuition waivers and monthly allowances to cover living expenses.

I started actively looking for programs that met these criteria and now I would like to share my experience. In this blog post I list the most interesting programs (to me) and I include only ones that I myself applied to. I will not describe the programs/scholarships in details, but instead will refer to links with information. However I will add some things that I think are important: e.g. the process of applying, interesting details, etc.

So, here is the list of the programs.

Erasmus Mundus

This is a set of programs that are funded by European Commission, and their main idea is multi-cultural exchange through mobility: there are students from all over the world and you have to study at several universities in different European countries. There are many Erasmus Mundus programs and all of them have good (probably the best in Europe) scholarships. You can see all the programs here.

It is possible to apply to at most 3 Erasmus Mundus programs, and out of them I selected two most interesting programs for me: IT4BI and DMKM. There are others that are also interesting, for example, Robotics and NLP/Linguistics, but I didn't end up applying to them.

Information Technologies for Business Intelligence

Website: http://it4bi.univ-tours.fr/

Description: Business Intelligence encompasses many scientific and technological fields including data warehouses, data mining, content analytics, business process management, visual analytics, and requires competences in information systems, web science, decision science, software engineering, and innovation and entrepreneurship. The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree’s Programme in Information Technologies for Business Intelligence (IT4BI) is designed to provide understanding, knowledge and skills in this broad scope of fields. Its main objective is to train computer scientists who understand and help develop the strategies of modern enterprise decision makers.

So it is about Data Analysis, but with the emphasis on Enterprise data (to some extent).

There are 3 specialization for this program:
  • Decision Support and Business Intelligence
  • Service-Oriented Business Intelligence
  • Distributed and Large-Scale Business Intelligence

Documents that you need:
  • diploma and transcript translated to English and notarized
  • some form with self-assessment of the things you studied at your bachelors
  • a motivation letter
  • 3 reference letters
  • English certificate
  • your CV

Process: first, you register at the website, and upload all the documents. You also enter emails of your reference, so they can receive some special form and upload the references for you. Once you have done everything online, you then send all the documents by post.

Data Mining and Knowledge Management

Website: http://www.em-dmkm.eu/

Description: Data Mining and Knowledge Management (DMKM) has become essential for improving the competitiveness of businesses and increasing access to knowledge. DMKM still comes up, however, against major scientific and technological obstacles. This European Master in DMKM proposes specialized training in this field.

This is a program about in-depth data mining and data analysis, and related things such as optimization, biostatistics, machine learning, etc.

There are several specializations:
  • E-Science
  • Data Mining and Complex System Modeling, Application in Social Sciences
  • Knowledge and Decision
  • Statistical Modeling and Data Mining
  • Semantic Web
  • Relational Data Mining

You can have a closer look at the list of courses at the program's website.

The list of documents is similar to IT4BI, but, two of 3 references must be your teachers from prior education and there's no self-assessment form. The process is also similar, but you don't need to send the documents by post before the final decision, everything can be done online.

Additionally the DMKM committee organizes a skype interview with candidates where they discuss different things with potential students, but mostly they ask things based on the candidate's CV, past education and work experience. They won't ask you specific technical details about complex algorithms like on a job interview - but instead they'd rather like to get to know you better.

When I was preparing to the skype interview, I found this blog post very useful - it's written by a Turkish guy who eventually got admitted to the program. You can also read his blog at http://erasmusum.wordpress.com/ - you can find there more information about DMKM. I followed his idea to create a transcript of the interview, and you can find mine here.


EIT ICT Labs Master School

Website: http://www.masterschool.eitdigital.eu/programmes/overview/

This is another set of programs funded by the European Commission and it's very similar to Erasmus Mundus, but with Entrepreneurship minor - instead of languages and multicultural exchange. The scholarships are comparable to Erasmus Mundus, but not as good.

The process is the same for all EIT ICT programs, so here is it. First, you need to register at http://universityadmissions.se/, but note that you don't have to pay application fee there.

Then you need
  • letter of motivation where you have to describe some entrepreneurial idea. I described possible usages of Twitter for stock price prediction
  • two letter of recommendations
  • your CV
  • diploma and transcript, translated to English and notarized

All the documents have to be sent by post.

As far as I remember it is possible to apply at most to two such programs, although I might be wrong. I applied to Cloud Computing and Services, but recently I learned that there's a new program (just appeared at the end of 2014) - Data Science, so I'll also add a link to it.

Cloud Computing and Services

Website: http://www.masterschool.eitdigital.eu/programmes/ccs/

Description: Cloud Computing and Services will provide students with a system of knowledge both in formal foundations, technological platforms and practical skills in implementing distributed software applications. The programme will also provide an insight into current and future directions of the distributed software development.

Since I was interested in Data Analysis, I found following specializations interesting:
  • Distributed Information Management
  • Cloud & Data Analytics

Data Science

Website: http://www.masterschool.eitdigital.eu/programmes/dsc/  

Description: The newly established Data Science Master's offers a unique academic programme, whereby students can study data science, innovation, and entrepreneurship at leading European universities. In this programme, students will learn about scalable data collection techniques, data analysis methods, and a suite of tools and technologies that address data capture, processing, storage, transfer, analysis, and visualization, and related concepts (e.g., data access, pricing data, and data privacy).

This is a new one that didn't exist when I was looking for a program. But had it existed, I would have applied to it for sure.

All of these specializations are related to data analysis:
  • Distributed Systems & Data Mining for Really Big Data
  • Multimedia & Web Science for Big Data
  • Design, Implementation, and Usage of Data Science Instruments
  • Process Mining in High Tech Systems, Healthcare, Visual Analytics, or Big Software
  • The Internet of Things
  • Big Data in the Cloud

The university where I study now, TU Berlin, hosts the "Design, Implementation, and Usage of Data Science Instruments" specialization which I highly recommend!

Visby Scholarship

Website: https://studyinsweden.se/scholarship/visby-programme-scholarships-for-masters-level-studies/

This is a scholarship for studying in Sweden that also covers both tuition fees and living costs, but this program is only for candidates from Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. However, there are similar programs for other countries - be sure to check https://studyinsweden.se/scholarships/

For Visby scholarship, the process is the following: first, register at http://universityadmissions.se/ (like for EIT ICT Labs) but here you have to pay the fee. After that you may select several Master programs from different universities across Sweden, but the Visby scholarship applies only to one of them, so be sure it's your first choice. At certain period of time you also register at the scholarship page and upload all needed documents.

Documents are the usual ones: diploma and transcript, translated to English and notarized, an English certificate, reference letters. But the motivation letter is different: you have to describe how your home country will benefit from your studies, and how the scholarship will affect your personal and professional development. In my case I said that I wanted to become a data scientist and then go back to my homeland and spread the knowledge there.

I selected a Business Intelligence program at Dalarna University, but there are other good possible choices at KTH and other well-known Swedish universities. Just check the list of programs that are covered by the Visby scholarship on the website.

Business Intelligence at Dalarna University

Website: http://www.du.se/en/Study-at-DU/Programmes/Business-Intelligence-/

Description: The BI Program gives an intensive and broad training in data collection, data processing, information analysis, information modelling, decision making - so called a BI chain training system - which integrate the core components from AI, Business Data Analysis, Information Systems with Statistics principles.  

Syllabus: http://www.du.se/en/Study-at-DU/Programme-syllabus/?programkod=DMBIA

Others

Eindhoven University, ALSP

At TU/e there is a scholarship that waives the tuition fee and also covers living expenses - it's called "Amandus H. Lundqvist Scholarship Program". The idea is that some company sponsors your education and then, after graduating, you have to work at this company for some amount of time. They claim that it doesn't affect the salary that you'll receive while working, so it looks quite promising: first you study and then there's a work placement awaiting you. You can read here more about the scholarship.

There are two master programs at TU/e that were interesting for me: Business Information Systems and Computer Science and Engineering. There are some core subjects, and the student can select the rest.

The process: you first apply to a master program and select that you also apply to the scholarship. The list of documents to upload and send usual: diploma, transcript, 3 references, a motivation letter and CV. Then you wait until they accept you to the master program, and only after that they initiate the scholarship procedure.

Here it is (copied from one of the emails from TU/e):
  1. The Department/Faculty Admissions Board nominates candidates.
  2. The TU/e Scholarship Selection Committee (the central selection board that compares nominations from all faculties) decides which candidates may enter stage 3.
  3. Selected students complete a questionnaire on their personality and characteristics.
  4. The answers to the questionnaires are analysed and the TU/e Scholarship Selection Committee will decide which students will be offered an ALSP scholarship.

I must have dome something crazy at the stage 3 with the personality questionnaire so they decided to have a phone call with me and see how adequate I am :-) Also, once you receive the final offer, you will be asked to transfer a guarantee payment, but this money will be used for securing the accommodation and other stuff.

University of Westminster, Full Fee scholarship

The University of Westminster in London offers a full tuition fee waiver plus covering of living expenses for international students who want to get a Master's degree. You can read more here. But it's just one possible scholarship, and they have quite a lot of them - see here.

The process is similar: apply to the program, upload documents (diploma, references, motivation letter) and then apply to the scholarship.

I decided to apply to Business Intelligence and Analytics program.

There's More

This list is just a list of programs to which I applied myself (except for EIT Data Science). But there's more:

Epilogue

At the end I got offers from 3 programs and decided to enroll into the IT4BI Master Program. Now (at the moment of writing) I have almost finished its 3rd semester, which is hosted by a very nice university - TU Berlin. You can read more about IT4BI or TU Berlin on this blog: for example, in the post IT4BI First Year: Business Intelligence Fundamentals we describe the first year of the program, and in the post IT4BI: Distributed and Large-Scale Business Intelligence we describe the specialization at TU Berlin. I also describe the process of applying to IT4BI in more details in the post IT4BI: How To and you can also check IT4BI FAQ.

I hope this information was useful. Stay tuned!

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