How to Get into Computing & Data Science with Arts/Commerce Background

With the rapid technological advancements (and catalyzed by Covid), STEM jobs have been growing three times faster than non-STEM jobs since 2000. India is one of the top 3 countries that produce the maximum number of STEM graduates. It’s becoming tough for arts and commerce graduates. So, how to get into computing and data science with a non-STEM background?

How to Get into Computing and Data Science with Non-STEM Background

Co-authored by Tanmoy Ray

Usual Options of Getting into Computing and Data Science/AI

There are online courses and several certification & training programs to bridge the gap. However, they do have their own pros and cons. More importantly, either some of the Data Science MOOCs are too superficial, or there is a huge mismatch between Data Science Online Courses and the Job Market.

A structured Master’s program is a good option. However, there are very few quality ones in India. You can also opt for a full-fledged Master’s (MS) abroad. But, top universities look for STEM backgrounds. Even non-CS graduates struggle to get into top-tier AI/Data Science programs. Read Mohit’s story of getting into the AI-ML Masters program as a non-CS reapplicant.

So, is there any alternative for arts and commerce graduates to land up in computing and data science/AI careers?

Yes, there are!

In this post, we will look at a more structured option – Conversion Courses.

What is a Conversion Course?

A conversion course is a program of study that trains a graduate in a new subject. Usually, it prepares graduates for a specific profession. It is an intensive course that lets the taker pursue upon its completion a career for which s/he has not trained at the undergraduate or professional levels.

Objectives of Conversion Courses

Post-Covid, many graduates and working professionals have been thinking about changing careers.

Conversion courses are intensive postgraduate programs that allow you to pursue a career that your undergraduate degree or professional career hasn’t prepared you for.

Many students choose an undergraduate degree based on their personal strengths and interests, rather than having a specific career in mind. Many conversion courses condense an undergraduate degree into a shorter time frame.

How does doing a conversion course help a student?

The Covid-19 lockdowns and the consequent shrinkage of the jobs market have focussed attention back on conversion courses. Those who can afford to, including ones who have been laid off, are using the time to pursue the underlying interest behind their old careers, indeed, find (and finesse) their ‘true north’, become the best professional that they can be in the field most suited (or specialized) to their acumen.

To achieve this goal, the method at hand is doing conversion courses. Oftentimes, employers and industry heads will prefer a conversion course graduate over a regular one on the ground that their career trajectory demonstrates both competence and sincerity/passion.

Doing a conversion course benefits a student in the following ways:

  • Switch to a more lucrative career or a career that has better opportunities and a market
  • Pursue higher education and research in the area(s) of their true interest
  • Go for an interdisciplinary research position in the field

Who should attend conversion courses?

How to Get into Computing & Data Science with Non-STEM Background

Late bloomers, unhappy early- to mid-career professionals, and graduates who want a fresh shot at academics and their work careers may enroll in these courses.

Conversion courses are of two types — STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to non-STEM and vice-versa, and intra-STEM courses. Computer science, data science, and programming conversion courses typically ask for evidence of professional programming experience or A-level proficiency in mathematics.

If you were thinking of a change of studies or career path then this may be the perfect route for you. You will have the chance to not only broaden your knowledge base and employment opportunities but also become a specialist in your chosen Master’s subject giving you the edge in a competitive jobs market. 

Top Conversion Courses in UK for Computing and Data Science/AI

1. MSc Computing, Imperial College London

A first-class degree in any subject is the minimum entry requirement for this course. Applicants who want to retrain as IT professionals are the natural target for this course. It is also suitable for preparation for PhD studies.

2. Computer Science MSc, University College London (UCL)

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree (or an international qualification of an equivalent standard) in a subject other than computer science or information technology is the requirement for this one-year full-time conversion course.

3. Computing and Information Systems MSc, Queen Mary University of London

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree (or an international qualification of an equivalent standard) in a subject other than computer science is the requirement for this one-year full-time conversion course.

4. Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (Conversion Programme) MSc, Queen Mary University of London

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree (or an international qualification of an equivalent standard) or above at undergraduate level in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) subject not related to Computer Science, Electrical Engineering or Electronic Engineering is the requirement for this highly competitive one-year full-time conversion course.

5. MSc Computing with Placement, Cardiff University

A minimum of a lower second-class UK Bachelor’s degree (or an international qualification of an equivalent standard) in a subject other than computer science is the requirement for this two-year full-time conversion course (with the sandwich year).

Need More Info on Conversion Courses?

Speak with Sunita Bose

Few Other Conversion Courses for Data Science and AI in UK

  • MSc Applied Data Science – Teesside University
  • MSc Applied Artificial Intelligence – Teesside University
  • MSc Data Science – Nottingham Trent University
  • MSc Computing – Nottingham Trent University
  • MSc IT Security – Nottingham Trent University
  • MSc Computer Science – Swansea University
  • MSc Finance and Big Data Analytics – Swansea University
  • MSc Digital Humanities – UCL

Conversion Courses in Ireland and USA

  • MSC Computer Science – UCD
  • Computer Science—Artificial Intelligence for Managers (PgCert) – NUI Galway
  • Software Design and Development (HDip) – NUI Galway
  • Computer Science – Applied Computing Technology (HDip) – UCC
  • MSc Computer Science – Interactive Media – UCC
  • Digital Arts and Humanities – UCC
  • MSc Creative Digital Media – TU Dublin
  • MS Computer Science Bridge – New York University
  • MS Computer Science Bridge Program – Columbia University
  • MS Computer Science Bridge – University of San Francisco

Are the Conversion Courses Worth it?

This depends on the field of work. It is easier for students (and professionals) to migrate from STEM to non-STEM, than vice-versa.

Other Domains

People doing conversion courses in law, psychology, sociology, or social work frequently emerge at par with those who have done regular courses; in law, for instance, they have to then sit the bar exam or go for solicitors’ training, like every other law graduate.

In medicine, too, there is a perennial need for licensed professionals, so opportunities will always be available for those who complete conversion courses in medicine and surgery, even if the salary paid may be in a lesser bracket than that drawn by regular medical degree holders.

Computing and Data Science

The computers and software industry is a little more competitive. Most conversion masters in computer science, for example, are only glorified Bachelors in the same subject. They would give you the skills to get an entry job in the current job market where demand far exceeds supply.

However, there are a handful of very highly reputed courses run by top universities that are very competitive and well regarded by employers. Graduates from these courses get prestigious jobs and are paid at par with regular graduates.

Conversion courses are also the ideal-most way to get oneself into a position of inter-disciplinary research in the field of one’s interest.

Huge Opportunities for Arts/Humanities Graduates in Tech Sector

Big tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are aggressively hiring non-STEM graduates with critical thinking skills. Learn why tech companies hire linguistics graduates.

Do you know what is common in these CEOs – Stewart Butterfield, Slack; Jack Ma, Alibaba; Susan Wojcicki, YouTube; and Brian Chesky, Airbnb? Well, they all hold degrees in the humanities – Philosophy, English, history & literature and fine arts respectively.

In the tech sector, the “making” part is relatively easy, provided the core tech team is a solid one. It is the “figuring out what people want” part that is harder. People will never embrace your product if you don’t understand their motivations and needs — what excites them or annoys them to tears.

According to strategy consultant, Christian Madsbjerg, humanities aren’t a luxury – they are your competitive advantage in the algorithmic age. Christian worked with companies such as Ford, Adidas, and Chanel. Based on his experience, it is not just algorithms that will drive future success, but a renewed focus on the contribution of the humanities.

Related Articles:

How AI and Digital Technologies are Creating More Jobs for Arts & Humanities Graduates

How to Boost Arts and Creative Careers by Leveraging Tech, Computing & AI

Need Guidance on Data Science / AI Careers?

Sign up for a 30/60-Minute Consultation Session with Tanmoy Ray

How “Let’s Talk by Sunita Bose” (and Stoodnt) can help with you?

Choosing the Right Conversion Course

“Let’s Talk” will accurately evaluate the true value of the course one is keen to pursue in terms of competitiveness (the more the better), course content (there are many courses in the United Kingdom some of which do cut corners and teach a significantly fewer number of topics or are otherwise behind in the quality of syllabus compared to regular courses) and reputation or perceived worth among industry heads and present the results to the candidate.

This is crucial going ahead for the candidate to be taken seriously in the job market. Most employers are wise to the course nomenclature and can make out exactly what kind of course background a candidate is coming from. Employers in a hurry may overlook the degree but deficiencies are bound to show in a dynamic work environment. Thus Let’s Talk will help candidates filter out courses that are inadvisable.

Enrolling in the Conversion Course

Let’s Talk will provide help with making out applications and will liaise with the university at every level to update the student regarding the status of their applications. We will hand-hold and guide students in writing the statement of purpose that best showcases their talent and intent.

We will also provide counselling to the students as to the best possible responses to questions in the admissions form, interviews, and so on.

Featured Image Source: Medium

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