I recently graduated from Georgia Tech’s Online Master’s in Computer Science program! I’m now taking some time to reflect on my experience.
What was the program like?
Georgia Tech’s program is a 10-course (30 credit hour) Master’s degree in Computer Science. It’s fully online and follows a traditional academic structure with lectures, office hours, homework, exams, and grades. It’s the real deal, not watered down. You take the same courses the on-campus students take. You get a real degree that doesn’t mention that the program was online at all, because there is no difference between online and on-campus. You just have to watch recorded lectures instead of going in-person.
Why did I do it?
I love learning and I love my job as a software engineer. My employer even reimbursed me for tuition. I also wanted to expand my knowledge and skills beyond software engineering.
What courses did I take?
Software Development Process
My first course. I made my first real Android app – a Scrabble game – with a group. We also learned about UML, which I don’t care for.
Intro to Information Security
Made stacks overflow, wrote shellcode, gained root access, etc. This one was very hands on and took a lot of effort.
Machine Learning for Trading
My favorite course. I optimized portfolios using Sharpe ratios and built a reinforcement learning trading bot that beat the S&P 500 (but I learned that it’s best not to try to beat the S&P 500).
Intro to Operating Systems
I didn’t enjoy this course – it was similar to my undergraduate Operating Systems course. Our final project was to write an NFS-like server and client using gRPC, which was a new experience for me.
Supervised learning, unsupervised, classifiers, regressions, areas under various curves - the whole nine yards. I don’t consider myself to be anywhere near close enough to claim I know much about this topic.
This was a UX course (not UI!). I learned about usability, measuring productivity, and getting feedback from users.
This was a tough course. I don’t remember much of what we learned. AI is tough.
AI, Ethics, and Society
We really dove deep into the nonsense that happened at Facebook/Meta. I learned about GDPR, which comes in handy a lot!
iframe attacks to fool users.
As my final course, I wanted to do something new – video game AI. I learned C# and Unity (the game engine) and used them to program AI for a dodgeball game and a self-driving car.
When I started the program, I had vague goals of learning about “AI” and “Machine Learning” without a clear plan. I did it because I find these topics interesting, not for a promotion or career change.
Here are three unexpected benefits of the program:
I opened an IRA and increased my 401k contributions. I had no idea about stocks, but I learned about the stock market and investing in stocks through my Machine Learning for Trading course.
I learned to study effectively. The program was challenging and I had to work hard to keep up. Deadlines were real, projects were large and vague, and I had to actually learn the material to pass the exams.
I made connections with other students and alumni. I joined the program’s Slack and participated in study groups and office hours.
Overall, I’m glad I did the program. It challenged me and helped me grow as a software engineer and as a person.
Get in Touch
If you want to hear more, I’m happy to talk to you about the program as a recent alumni. Send me a message!