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For many people, obtaining a degree is an important professional step that will boost their resume and open up doors to new opportunities. Having a college degree is a prerequisite in the majority of professional careers, but for many people, obtaining that degree isn’t a simple task. Some people have jobs that they can’t afford to quit in order to pursue a degree full-time. Others can’t travel to universities, or have children that they need to take care of and can’t leave the house. There are three different ways to obtain a data science degree: Online, Offline or DIY. There are pros and cons to all three approaches, and it is important to remember that the decision is a very personal one and the factors for each weigh differently for each individual. An offline degree is a traditional, in-person degree that is obtained by attending a college either full-time or part-time. The benefits of receiving a data science degree offline include face-to-face instruction, which feels more personal and has a standardized curriculum, and the ability to work with peers. The downsides to attending a college are the time commitment and the common requirement to uproot and move to the college campus area. A DIY education is one that can be conducted and completed in the student’s own time. The student can study what areas of data science (or other subjects and skills) interest him or her and work from home. However, a DIY education offers no form of standardized curriculum, and the culmination of a student’s studies won’t end with a degree that can be presented to future employers or written into resumes. An online program, like UC Berkeley’s datascience@berkeley degree, allows students to work face-to-face on a web platform, learn a standardized curriculum and participate in in-group discussions with a wide variety of students in a very personalized way. Ultimately, students earn the same high-caliber university degree their brick-and-mortar peers do without having to relocate or quit their job. The diversity of students engaged in distance-learning can help forge connections with people who have a broad range of backgrounds, which only contributes to the overall educational experience since data science requires you to work with people from all over the world. Ultimately, there are multiple paths you can take to earn your bachelor’s or master’s degree in data science. For busy individuals, an online degree is the perfect solution. Do your research, and find out which option is the best for your needs, time constraints, lifestyle and financial situation. A data science degree is in your future, but how you obtain it is your decision. This article was written by Social Brand Manager, Jenna Dutcher on behalf of CAREEREALISM-Approved Partner, 2U – an education-technology company that partners with institutions of higher education such as the UC Berkeley School of Information (I School) to offer a Master of Information and Data Science(MIDS) degree.

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