Course Review – PG Diploma in Data Analytics by UpGrad & IIIT-B
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
- The review process
- My first impressions about the course
- Partnership with IIIT Bangalore
- Application process
- Applicant profile
- The curriculum
- Course Outline
- Content of the course
- Career mentoring sessions
- Interaction with stakeholders
- My interaction with faculty
- My interaction with Industry experts
- My interaction with students
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.
4.1 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
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
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.
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:
- Graded MCQs (in-video) – 15%
- Individual assignments – 30%
- Group case study – 15%
- Final exam – 25%
- 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
- 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.
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.