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Course Review – PG Diploma in Data Analytics by UpGrad & IIIT-B

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The analytics training landscape in India is changing very rapidly and for the right reasons. There is a huge talent gap to solve for. The U.S. alone is expected to have a shortfall of 150,000 data scientists by 2018. The number for India would also be similar.

People are inventing and discovering new ways to try and bridge this skill gap in the industry. As a result, not surprisingly, many new online and offline courses are emerging for people to upgrade their skills to match the industry demand.

In the last few months, we received several queries regarding the PG Diploma in Data Analytics Program being offered by UpGrad and IIIT-Bangalore. The course has been running for more than a year now and I thought it would be good to review their material and publish my review to help people make the right career decision.

 

Table of Contents

  1. The review process
  2. My first impressions about the course
  3. Partnership with IIIT Bangalore
  4. Application
    1. Application process
    2. Applicant profile
  5. The curriculum
    1. Prerequisites
    2. Course Outline
    3. Content of the course
    4. Career mentoring sessions
  6. Interaction with stakeholders
    1. My interaction with faculty
    2. My interaction with Industry experts
    3. My interaction with students
  7. Conclusion

 

1. The Review process

Like other reviews which we have done in the past, we interacted with various stakeholders across the chain to review the course. This includes Management, Faculty, past students and current students of the program. This time too, I reached out to the UpGrad team and asked them for access to the course material and they happily obliged.

While the material is provided by UpGrad – all views expressed in the article are my own.

 

2. My first impressions about the course

When I first came across the UpGrad & IIIT-B offering, it looked like just another offering from a top-tier education institute in India, aimed at working professionals. I thought that, like most of the other competing programs out there – they would take 2 – 3 years to learn about the industry before they get the program right. Thankfully, I was wrong.

When I interacted with the UpGrad team, a couple of things stood out compared to other institutes / courses I have reviewed in past:

  • UpGrad is dreaming much bigger than just the analytics course. The team is focused (obsessed) with delivering a platform/product that is much more than just an analytics course. Here was a team looking to deliver an online experience which could compete meaningfully with offline programs. They are looking to expand the entire bouquet of analytics offerings and not just stay limited to one data analytics course.
  • The team is very dynamic and intends to achieve more than what others do in similar time frames. In 12 months, they have done more than what most other institutes do in a few years. For example, the kind of industry tie-ups which UpGrad has created has more than a few years for other courses.

 

3. Partnership with IIIT-Bangalore

Since the program is run online, I wasn’t sure how the partnership with IIIT-Bangalore works. Hence, I spent some time understanding the model. IIIT-B and UpGrad collaborate on every aspect of the program including curriculum creation, program development, program delivery, career support etc. The learners receive a PG Diploma in Data Analytics from IIIT-B post successful completion.

This is a unique programs launched by IIIT-B. The other programs that IIITB offers are full time, offline programs providing degrees such as M. Tech and PhD. This program, despite being online, has tried to keep most of the features of the university’s offline experience, such as a robust credit structure in place.

 

4. Application

4.1 The application/selection process:

  • Selection Process: Once people fill up the application form to enrol in the program, they have to take a 30 minute online test which checks their quantitative and analytical aptitude. The admissions committee takes a holistic look at the profile and performance of the potential learners and extends the offer of joining to the deserving applicants. If someone has scored above a certain threshold in GMAT, GRE, CAT or GATE exams, then they are exempted from the online test.
  • The selection process has been put in place to identify candidates who can go through a rigorous upskilling regime for the next 11 months. This results in a selection ratio (as quoted by UpGrad) of 1:10.

I was happy that UpGrad was applying this selection criteria instead of accepting most of the applications they get. Hopefully, that should improve the experience of the people enrolled in the course.

 

4.2 Applicant profile

The PGDDA has two ongoing batches of 300 and 500 learners. The program boasts a healthy mix of individuals drawn from a variety of backgrounds and bringing in a wealth of prior experience.

  • Work Experience of the batch:
    • 30% of the audience has 10+ years of experience
    • 35% of participants have 5-10 years
    • 35% of participants have 0-4 years of experience
  • Background of participants:
    • About half of the learners have prior experience in IT
    • About 25% learners are existing analytics professionals looking to further upskill themselves
    • Remaining learners come from diverse industries such as Financial Services, Ecommerce, Healthcare, Insurance, Media, Telecom and Aerospace also figure in the list.

 

5 The curriculum

5.1 Pre-requisites:

All the qualified learners are expected to go through a preparatory program which covers some mathematical – such as matrix, linear algebra – and technical prerequisites such as R, SQL, Tableau, Excel, Python.

 

5.2 Course Outline:

The 11 month PG Diploma program is a 36 credit program which comprises 7 courses (please check this on course website as it might change over time). The first 6 courses are:

  • Introduction to Data Management
  • Statistics and Exploratory Data Analysis
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Advanced Predictive Analytics
  • Introduction to Big Data Analytics
  • Domain Elective in BFS, E-Commerce and Healthcare

Course Outline

All of these courses carry 4 credits each. The 7th course is a 3 month long capstone project, which carries 12 credits, and has been developed in collaboration with various companies/Industry professionals.

This definitely looks comprehensive for an 11 month program – but let us look at the content a bit more closely.

 

5.3 Content of the course

The interface of the UpGrad portal (LMS) looks good and intuitive to use. You can see a summary of your progress on the course screen. Additionally, there is a discussion portal (the participation in which is counted towards evaluation) and a browser based coding window. You can access past lectures and industry interactions here too.

Discussion portal

The videos were of high quality and contained interesting story lines. The participant needs to watch the entire video before unlocking the exercises and moving ahead. I personally am not a big fan of this feature as I like to see the content selectively. But, I can understand why UpGrad decided to keep it this way to enforce the participation.

 

5.4 Career Guidance sessions

There is a sharp focus on preparing the learners for jobs in the industry. The support provided to learners is on the following front:

  • 1:1 Mentorship: All learners are provided multiple sessions of 1:1 mentorship by industry experts which cover the following points:
    • The entire analytics landscape and the types of opportunities which exist
    • Based on the learner’s profile, how can the learner plan a transition into the field of analytics
    • What specific steps the learner needs to take to transition into analytics
    • Finally, mock interviews are carried out by the industry experts and specific feedback is provided to them to improve their chances of transition
  • Resume Preparation: Learners are provided support in preparing their resume and improving interview techniques, and other collaterals which are relevant for transitioning into the analytics domain.

 

6. Interaction with Stakeholders

6.1 My interaction with Faculty

My interaction with Prof. Tricha from IIIT Bangalore gave me an inside view about the efforts which have gone in creating the course and some of the challenges which the team is working on. We also discussed how the assessment was different for this course compared to other courses. Interestingly, the assessment includes grading activities on the discussion portal. Here is the weightage of various activities in the course assessment:

  1. Graded MCQs (in-video) – 15%
  2. Individual assignments – 30%
  3. Group case study – 15%
  4. Final exam – 25%
  5. Discussion Forum activity – 15%

 

6.2 Interaction with Industry experts

UpGrad has partnered with companies and senior individual contributors from the industry to create and deliver this program. They have experts from Uber, Fractal Analytics, Genpact, Viacom, Tata iQ etc. who work closely with them to develop the case studies. These experts are also involved in delivering lectures and providing industry perspective to the learners.

Overall the industry engagement during the program would be around 40%. This can be experienced by learners in the form of recorded lectures, live sessions and even mentorship sessions. This link contains the list of faculty who are part of this program.

During my interaction with industry faculty members, they told me that they are very excited about what UpGrad is creating and have high confidence in the team. They said that the willingness to try new things, really stands out.

 

6.3 My interaction with students

The students were overall happy about their learning and also the effort that was put in by the UpGrad team. They said that the team was highly approachable. The students mentioned that the course is fairly intensive and their schedule ends up being hectic – all for a good cause though.

The students appreciated the connect with industry experts and the effort from UpGrad team. They also suggested that having a full time instructor with industry experience might further improve their learning.

Manshul was working as a consultant at TCS when he decided to take a plunge into analytics after 9+ years of experience.

Initially I was quite apprehensive about the program quality and given my 9-year experience, how would I keep pace with young people in my batch. But my experience has only been rewarding. From program content to networking to career support, this program offers an end-to-end solution. I got placed in Opera Solutions as Sr. Data Engineer through UpGrad IIIT-B career support.

-Manshul Goel, Sr. Data Engineer, Opera Solutions.

 

Sajal Roychowdhury was working with Amazon as a risk analyst and then transitioned to Shopclues as a Business Analyst. He enjoyed the peer to peer interaction during the program.

It is brilliant to collaborate and learn with others even though it is an online program. IIIT-B is a good brand to have and the curriculum of the program is solid.

-Sajal Roychowdhary, Business Analyst, Shopclues

Other details

  • Program Fee – INR 2,25,000 + taxes
  • Next batch starts – July 2017

 

My view – who is this course for?

This course is the right fit for people with experience who want to understand / experience analytics, but cannot / do not want to take time out for attending an offline course. The UpGrad platform has been created after a lot of careful consideration, research and testing. The team is dedicated to improving the platform regularly.

The content is of high quality and is delivered by experienced faculty. I can say very confidently that among all the courses coming up in India, the UpGrad & IIITB course has evolved the fastest and will continue to do so.

While all the efforts are in the right direction, it will become clear in the next 6 months how the industry accepts those who have graduated from this course.

 

7. Conclusion

I enjoyed talking to the UpGrad team and would thank them for providing me unrestricted access to their faculty / students. I loved their focus on the platform, the attitude of the team to get things done, quality of their content and the innovation they are bringing in.

What would I want to see more? I would want them to bring on-board a full time specialist for the course. Also, the statistics about the placements would only be available in next 6 – 12 months.

 

Disclosure: This sponsored post has been written by Analytics Vidhya on behalf of, and with inputs from UpGrad. All opinions expressed in this post are entirely those of Analytics Vidhya.

9 Comments

  • gairik ray says:

    I really want to know if they have been able to place people with less than 1 year work experience. Any idea about that?

    • Deepu says:

      I am a student of their first batch & am sad to say that the placements are not up to the mark. Not even 10% of the batch are placed so far. Most of those who got placed had some background/experience related to analytics. But I do agree that they have a very good curriculum planned & the faculty are up to the mark.

      My advice is to think twice before investing such a huge amount of money. I have attended a number of interviews and none of the interviewers didn’t pay any special attention to this course. What they mainly look for is your knowledge, passion & experience irrespective of the the method you gained it.

  • Sagar Goswami says:

    I have no prior experience in IT industry and I am choosing C-DAC for PG diploma in big data analytics .
    I have working knowledge of R, Python
    I also have conceptual knowledge of C, machine learning and statistics.
    I chose C-DAC because of extensive curriculum and relatively low expenses.
    I also have option of Up-grad in front of me.
    Please,please share your opinion on my choice.
    Thank you.

  • shashank says:

    I want to know if there have been any good offers for people with 9+ yrs experience also is there any in depth coverage as lot of topics are getting covered in a short duration. Will employers give any value to this degree ?

    • Kunal Jain says:

      Shashank,

      I would not call this as short duration – the program is 11 months. I do agree that there is a lot of ground to cover and you have to be prepared for hectic 11 months ahead.

      From employers perspective, they would look at the projects you have done and what you have learnt more than the degree.

      Hope that helps.

      Regards,
      Kunal

  • Akhtar says:

    Hi Kunal,
    Thanks for this review, I really wish if you could have thrown some more light on the course content, just listing out the course title doesn’t excite me enough.

    • Kunal Jain says:

      Akhtar,

      Thanks for asking the question. I understand where you are coming from. Happy to share more details on the content. Here are a few more pointers –

      1. All the videos were high quality and UpGrad / IIIT-Bangalore team had clearly put in efforts to make topics easy to understand.
      2. There were case studies from various companies embedded into the course work to provide people practical exposure while they are taking the course.
      3. They have a few more additions planned on bringing an interface to code through browser directly in coming days.

      If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask and I will answer them to the best of my knowledge.

      Hope that helps.

      Regards,
      Kunal

    • Deepu says:

      A few more points, they cover the below areas/tools
      1. Statistics
      2. SQL
      3. Tableau
      4. Machine Learning – Regression, Classification, Clustering,
      5. Big Data fundamentals (Hadoop/Hive/HDFS etc) in a nutshell
      6. A bit of Spark
      7. Python (optional)
      8. Domain elective (BFS/Health Care/eCommerce)

  • Arihant says:

    Good for learning and to add extra skills to ur profile but program should think and provide options for students to connect with IIITB professors to take advantage of their exp. More Industries connect session should be provided to bring rigor within students which would help them to understand current and future market expectation and skills required !!

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