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How to choose MS Specialization?

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Surbhi Singh
6 mins read
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Deciding an MS specialization may appear like a cakewalk for some students. However, in the Indian education system where major emphasis lies on academic scores, graduating with just good marks may not be sufficient to come up with an ideal MS specialization. We believe that choosing the right MS specialization is a journey rather than an overnight decision. Therefore, in this blog post, we would like to share some steps you can consider that may help you decide about your MS specialization. But before we do that, let us quickly go through some common questions about pursuing an MS abroad. 

10 Common Questions in Choosing an MS Specialization

1. Do I need to do a Masters at all?
A master’s degree as the name suggests equips you with skills and knowledge to master a subject. If you wish to be an expert at something, doing a masters is the best choice.
 

2. Does my salary package depend on my qualifications?
Of course, yes. Imagine a close relative suffering from a heart disease. Who would you like to call for treatment- a general physician or a cardiologist? You may also guess who charges more.

For numbers to speak, let’s go through the table which states average starting salaries according to Payscale 2016-17 survey.

Academic field

Salary after UG ($)

Salary after PG ($)

Business Administration

48,450

57,700

Computer Science

68,600

84,800

Human Resources

43,700

56,643

Mathematics

57,500

62,300

Mechanical Engineering

66,800

72,900


3. Which would be the best MS specialization for me?
The MS specialization best suited for you is a combination of three factors:

  • Interest- Important not just for an MS but in the long run too.

  • Academic Background - Core Subjects and scores

  • Technical Skills - Certifications, online courses, independent projects.
     

4. What if I have an interest in more than 1 subject and can’t decide on anyone for MS specialization?
You can rely on your technical skill set to highlight your potential to the foreign universities. The stronger and relevant is your overall profile, higher are chances of selection.
 

5. Do I have to choose the same major as my bachelors?
No. You need not choose the same major for your MS. However, in case you plan to change your major, be prepared to build a strong profile with relevant courses, projects, internships, certifications in your bag. While choosing a country, you can also check the nature of the education system e.g., the US has an open education system and encourages a change of major.
 

6. Which one to prefer between general and specialized masters?
A specialized masters will help you develop a niche in a particular area and converges your target industries sharply. For example, Computer Science undergraduates learn basic subjects such as OOPS, data structures to more advanced subjects related to neural networks, advanced numerical techniques. Obtaining specialization in any one field enriches your skill set in one domain giving you an edge over other candidates during a job. On the other hand, if you are unsure of a specialization, a general masters can be chosen.
 

7. Can I go for a Masters program despite poor academic record?
Yes, you can pursue a Masters abroad despite poor academic records. You must focus on building a strong technical skill set and have an outstanding entrance test score such as in GRE, GMAT.
 

8. What are the most popular MS specializations?
Some popular MS specializations along with promising careers are listed below.

Course

Job Titles

MBA

IT Manager, Marketing Manager, Sales Manager, Business Operations Manager,

Master of Engineering Management

Architectural and Engineering Manager

Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum Engineer

Master of Science in Finance

Financial Manager, Actuary, Financial Advisor

Master of Computer Science

Software Developer, IT Manager

You can explore more Masters Courses along with descriptions here.
 

9. Which are the hottest or most popular MS specializations in Computer Science?
There exist multiple specializations under Computer Science Some common ones are listed below.

MS Specialisation

Required Skills

Job Titles

Artificial Intelligence

Mathematics, Modeling, Algorithms

Artificial Intelligence Architect, Artificial Intelligence Researcher, Machine Learning Engineer

Computer-Human Interface

Visual detailing, communication skills, understanding of user behavior

User Experience (UX) Designer, User Experience Researcher, Interaction Designer

Game Design

Scripting, coding, creative and artistic detailing

Video Game Designer, Video Game Programmer, Software Engineer

Networks

Resolving network issues, network architecture designing

Network Administrator, Network Analyst, Network Architect

Computer Graphics

Creative detailing

Mobile Application Developer

Information Security

Compliance regulations knowledge, security and vulnerability management

Information Security Analyst, Data Security Analyst, Network Security Analyst, System Security Analyst

Data Science

Visualization, mathematics, predictive analytics

Data Scientist, Data Analyst, Business Intelligence Analyst, Machine Learning Engineer, Information Scientist, Database Administrator

Programming Languages

Coding in different languages

Full-Stack Web Developer, Mobile Application Developer, Game Developer, Software Programmer

Software Engineering

Writing codes, collaboration and communication

Web Developer, Software Development Engineer, Software Engineer

Systems

Solving software and hardware problems, system architecture design, system updates and patching

Systems Administrator, Systems Analyst

Theory

Probability, Mathematical analytics, large scale vision

Data Scientist, Machine Learning Engineer

Other MS specializations for Computer Science graduates are Computer Architecture, Database and Information Systems.
 

10.Which are the top universities for Computer Science?
According to QS World Rankings 2020, top universities to study Computer Science and Information systems are as follows.

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Stanford University

  • Carnegie University

  • University of California, Berkeley

  • University of Cambridge

  • University of Oxford

  • Harvard University

  • EPFL

  • ETH-Zurich Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

  • National University of Singapore
     

CONFUSIONS IN SELECTING RIGHT MS SPECIALIZATION

1. Picking from multiple subjects

A foreign university looks at your overall profile, a major part of which is your technical skill set. Let us take an example. Suresh likes Robotics but has studied Physics as his honors degree. All his internships, certifications, workshops and projects belong to core Physics. As a university head, are you more convinced of admitting him in a MS program in Physics or Robotics?

If you are in confusion and not sure about the specialization but are getting a better ranked university, you can always choose it and further after admission opt for electives as per as your interest.
 

2. Sure about interest but lacking in relevant skill set

If you are someone who believes in building a skill set to achieve your dream specialization, keep in mind that this may delay your admission process unless you are sure from an early stage.Let us take another example. Ramesh is a Mathematics graduate and loves to solve business problems. He wishes do to a MBA abroad. At his college, he joins an entrepreneurship club, joins online courses in Financial Management and works as an intern with a firm. After graduation, he joins a company to work on more relevant projects. All his work experience, internships, certifications present a strong case for him to convince a university about his choice for MBA.

 

FACTORS TO HELP YOU DECIDE AN MS PROGRAM ABROAD 

JOB TRENDS

Getting a job post-masters is the top priority for each student. Choosing an MS specialization keeping in mind the latest job trends then appears justified. After all, who doesn’t want ROI (return of investment)?

According to a LinkedIn Emerging Jobs Report, based on its members’ job positions from 2015 to 2019, the fastest-growing jobs have been scoured. The top job titles for famous abroad destinations are listed in the table below.

USA

Canada

UK

Australia

Germany

AI Specialist

AI Specialist

AI Specialist

AI Specialist

AI Specialist

Robotics Engineer

Site Reliability Engineer

Data Protection Officer

Cyber Security Specialist

Site Reliability Engineer

Data Scientist

Data Engineer

Robotics Engineer

Robotics Engineer

Customer Success Specialist

As evident, STEM fields may offer a high career growth. No wonder, most popular masters specialization revolve around these.


BUILDING INTEREST AND SKILLSET

We believe that choosing the right MS specialization is a journey rather than an overnight decision. We would like to share the steps you can consider while you are pursuing under graduation (UG) that may help you choose the right MS specialization. 

If you have already received an undergraduate degree and looking for pursuing a Master abroad, you can quickly go over the bullet points mentioned below.

Note: The suggestions below assume a 4-year under graduation program such as B. Tech but can be applied for 3-year courses such as B.Sc. as well.

First Year of UG

You may hardly think of pursuing a Masters in the first year of UG itself. However, you must keep a mental note of the following points.

  • Focus on laboratory-based assignments/projects

  • Participate in Q/A sessions during lectures

  • Be open to discuss concepts with professors outside the classroom

  • On social media profiles, follow blogs or channels of your academic interests such as Business Insider, TechCrunch, Forbes, or others based on your choice.


Second and Third Year of UG

If your college gives you an option of changing stream, you must consider it keeping in view your interest and the subjects you enjoyed during the practical work. In the second and third year, as more core subjects become a part of the curriculum, try to incorporate the following suggestions.

  1. Experiment with electives e.g., if you are an electrical engineering student but like to learn about machine learning algorithms, go ahead

  2. You can also join clubs such as entrepreneurship club, robotics club, at your college. These help you connect with peers with similar interests

  3. Start taking up independent projects/courses on online platforms. These may or may not relate to your major

  4. You can also seek professors’ help for course recommendations

  5. Attend seminars or workshops that emphasize on practical training at your college

  6. You may also take initiatives to arrange workshops for juniors or your peers. This will help you to explore what you like working on.


The Final Year

After exploring various options throughout the three years of your under graduation, your final year is the time to converge your goals and choose more projects accordingly. Listed below are some essentials to decide the right MS specialization for you.

  1. Analysis - Decide on a subject that interests you the most. In case there are more than one, try finding out what is common in your overlapping interests. For example, if you are a Physics undergraduate and like to code, you may choose from Statistical Analysis, Computational Physics, and Non-linear dynamics.
  2. Projects - Choose your mini-project after researching. Do not take any random project basis scoring leniency or seniors’ suggestions.
  3. Internships - Try as hard as possible to get a relevant internship, be it paid or unpaid. It gives you industry experience, clears doubts by throwing you in uncomfortable office space, and makes you taste real-life projects. 

 

We hope this blog post helped clear your vision on how to decide your MS specialization. Aligning your short term and long term goals whether you are an undergraduate or a working professional with your MS specialization will help you come up with the right choice. A balanced combination of interest, skill set and understanding of the job market is sure to guide you. Yocket wishes you all the best in your journey ahead!

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