I have come up with this post so that it can serve as a source of information about the Northwestern University’s MS in Analytics (MSiA) program beyond what is provided on the official university website: http://www.analytics.northwestern.edu/. If you are interested in this program, I recommend you to go through the official website thoroughly before going through this post.
I hope this post answers the questions you have in your mind and outside it. If there are still any questions which are not touched upon here, then please do leave a comment and I shall try answering it for you.
NOTE: ALL THE ANSWERS MENTIONED BELOW ARE STRICTLY PERSONAL BASED ON MY UNDERSTANDING, EXPERIENCE AND DISCUSSIONS WITH THE ADMINISTRATORS AND STUDENTS HERE.
1) Background and skills relevant to this program
· A background (education/work) in any of the fields like Economics/Econometrics, Math, Stats, Computer/Information Science/Technology, Business Administration, etc. is relevant to this program. This because Analytics is primarily a combination of Business, Math and Technology. To evaluate whether you are a right candidate for this program you could ask the following questions to yourself and research to get the answers for it:
- What do I know about Analytics?
- Why Analytics for me?
- Where is it applied?
- Is it aligned to my career goals?
- Where do I see myself in future after this program?
- What skill-set do I already possess and what would I need to develop to be successful in this field?
2) What is acceptance criteria?
· According to me the following are the criteria on which the Admission Committee would base their decision on:
- Education or courses taken in under grad in a relevant field (Economics, Math, Stats, Computer/Information Science/Technology, Business Administration) class distribution can be found here: http://www.analytics.northwestern.edu/current-students/index.html
- Performance in undergrad will add a lot of weight to your case (Good acads*, Good University*)
- Relevant work experience – if any (any work-ex related to working with data, technology or business management)
- Need some prior exposure to computer programming (for applicants from non-computer science background)
- GRE/GMAT test scores (2015-16 batch will be the first one for which standardized test score will be considered. So hard to provide a benchmark for this one at this stage)
- Needless to say that your SOP has to be top notch and very convincing; Resume very professional and of really high standards; Recommendations that are aligned with your case from reliable and from credible supervisors/colleagues
*see next question
3) But do they really focus of undergraduate grades/university for international students?
· Since there is no direct conversion for international grades to US 4-pt GPA, I do not think they would focus too much on your grades from your under-grad as long as you are above the 3.0/4.0 cutoff or equivalent of that (there are various avenues where you can get this conversion done if you are an international student and I think if you have more than 50% from any of the Indian universities then you should be good). Their main focus is your suitability to the program through your under-grad courses and/or your work-experience and how your career goals align to this field etc.
4) How important is work experience to get into this program?
· There are students in both the cohorts thus far who were just out of their under-grad school with minimal work experience (internships) when they joined this program. But all of them had relevant educational background required for this program. So work experience is not necessary but a relevant one would definitely add a lot of weight to your application.
5) Pre-requisites courses or preparation required before joining MSiA program.
· There are no pre-requisites as such since students come from really diverse background. But knowledge of elementary stats, probability and calculus is pretty important. So do it whenever you get time. More information can be found here: http://www.analytics.northwestern.edu/prospective-students/index.html
6) Placements at MSiA
· Job prospects are excellent after graduating from MSiA. Most of the guys from the first cohort of 2012-13 have got multiple good offers across industries like finance, technology, retail, insurance. If you have any specific questions or queries regarding jobs then you can try getting in touch with them or the program director/asst. director. This page will provide more information: http://www.analytics.northwestern.edu/current-students/career%20placement.html
7) Program expenses (entire duration excluding internship period)
· 60k-61k (tuition fees) + 3k (Health insurance) + 10k (off campus expenses) + additional 2k (Text books, travel, partying, etc.) – rough estimates and varies from person to person. Tuition fee is $15,038 per quarter for 2013-14 (3 Qs). You can expect it to increase by another 5% may be for the Fall quarter of next year (cant bet on this!). So all together it will be around $60-61k as tuition fee. Additional costs would be a $3.4k annual health insurance for international students and living expenses (staying off-campus is cheaper average rent per month per person could be anywhere between $400 and $600). One can stay on-campus which generally is more expensive than staying off campus (http://www.northwestern.edu/living/). Most text books have either an e-version or are available in the library. So you can expect the buying of textbooks to be minimum. For more information: http://www.analytics.northwestern.edu/prospective-students/tuition-and-fees.html.
8) Paid internships, on-campus jobs and assistant-ships.
· There are on campus opportunities here which you can research on the University website. Also there are a few guys who work part-time for companies (paid). As far as my knowledge goes there are no assistant-ships available but you can always mail Lindsay (email@example.com) and enquire about it. There are 7 scholarships (50% tuition waiver) also provided by the NU for this program but I am not sure what is the basis on which they provide these (I personally feel it is for the early applicants). For more information: http://www.analytics.northwestern.edu/prospective-students/tuition-and-fees.html
9) Industry exposure and relevance in this program
· MSiA is a professional program instituted to cater to the growing industry demand of skillful Analytics professionals – the dearth of which is plaguing small and large businesses alike. Hence this program is structured in a way so the industry exposure is maximized enabling students to directly apply the concepts learned in the classroom out in the real world. The following link gives more information: http://www.analytics.northwestern.edu/prospective-students/index.html expressed
10) Eligible for OPT
· Yes, it is eligible of OPT since it comes under the STEM category
11) Acceptance rate at MSiA?
· I do not have an exact figure to quote but all I can say is that there are very few established pure-analytics programs in this country (and probably the world), though this count is increasing year over year, and MSiA is one among them. But at the same time it’s a new field and yet to reach its peak in terms of popularity among candidates unlike, say, a computer science program. So if you have a great case for yourself on why you should be admitted to the program and if you satisfy the necessary pre-requisites mentioned above, then you can definitely get through.
12) Which are the other universities that offer Analytic degree programs?
· As mentioned earlier, there is a huge surge in Analytics related programs in the US. A few years back there were only a handful that offered a full-fledged degree concentrated purely on Analytics and candidates didn’t have a lot of options to get a degree in this field. But this is changing at a rapid pace. The following link gives you a great overview of all the analytics degree programs in this country: https://analytics.ncsu.edu/?page_id=4184
13) For more FAQ’s: http://www.analytics.northwestern.edu/prospective-students/faqs.html