Turn Data Into Knowledge – Study in the Master’s Programme in Data Science

In today’s data-driven world, data scientists are in high demand. The Master’s Programme in Data Science enables students to become experts in the field and respond to the increasing need for data experts.

To learn more about what it is like studying and teaching in the programme, we talked to two students and a teacher. Daniel Cauchi from Malta and Fahsinee Wachirapong from Thailand are current students in the programme. Laura Ruotsalainen is Vice-Head of the Data Science Programme and Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Helsinki. 

Who is the Master’s Programme in Data Science for?

Laura Ruotsalainen: The Master’s Programme in Data Science is for everyone who has basic knowledge of programming, mathematics, probability and statistics and the enthusiasm to expand and deepen the knowledge to advance the current state of the art and benefit society. It offers various courses ranging from fundamental theories in various data science topics to scientific processes and the implementation of a practical data science project.

Daniel Cauchi: I chose the Master’s Programme in Data Science due to my fascination with Statistical Modelling and Machine Learning. I also wanted to improve my mathematical skills while remaining grounded within computer science as the field of application, since I enjoy programming a lot.

Fahsinee Wachirapong: I have a passion for working with data and would like to be a data scientist with a background in statistics in the future. After graduating with my bachelor’s in Statistics in Thailand, I looked into courses offered at the University of Helsinki as it is frequently ranked as one of the best universities in Finland. The courses sounded very interesting, and I was sure that the knowledge and skills that I could develop by participating in the programme would boost my confidence to get my dream career.

What is it like to study Data Science in practice?

Fahsinee Wachirapong: The courses in the Data Science Programme are quite challenging, yet they have developed my skills so much. I especially enjoy natural language processing (NLP) courses, and I plan to do my thesis on this topic. Most of the courses have exercise sessions where we students can ask Teaching Assistants about the assignments, which is something I didn’t have at my previous university.

Daniel Cauchi: The programme is very interdisciplinary and gives us students a great amount of freedom. Many courses substitute exams with weekly exercises or a bigger assignment. To me, this is a welcome change, as I find that these exercises and assignments really help reinforce what I learn in class and make the content stick in my brain. As a result, it feels that I am truly learning.

Laura Ruotsalainen: The programme offers courses on very topical subjects, for example, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Big Data. The curriculum is formed and frequently updated based on student feedback and very careful consideration and monitoring of changes in science and society. Some examples of new study topics are related to the engineering of machine learning systems and sustainability in data science, both fields evaluated to quickly require experts.

What kind of career opportunities does the programme open?

Laura Ruotsalainen: Data scientists are desperately needed in all fields, in academia, the public sector and industry. Work tasks can be anything from data cleaning, visualisation and communicating findings for decision-making to applying or developing novel machine learning methods for various complicated tasks. As the field of data science is very international, students graduating from the programme can apply for jobs in any country.

Fahsinee Wachirapong: During the summer, I did a data analysis internship at a Finnish company. I really liked the working culture; my colleagues were lovely, and I found that the Finnish language wasn’t a barrier at all. After my internship ended, I got the opportunity to continue working with the company part-time along with my studies. After I graduate, I would like to continue working as a data scientist in Finland.

Daniel Cauchi: The field of data science offers more career opportunities than I can name and probably much more than I know of. After graduating, I would like to work in high-performance computing, scaling programs to handle large datasets and be as fast and energy efficient as possible.

What is it like to study and live in Helsinki?

Fahsinee Wachirapong: I have done and discovered many new things since moving to Finland. I tried cross-country skiing last winter, and it has become my favourite hobby. I like that I can access nature everywhere and enjoy going for walks in the forest after a long day. The libraries here provide games, 3D printers, board games, and much more – they are the coolest that I have ever been to.

Daniel Cauchi: Student life in Finland is extremely unique. We students have countless benefits, such as student-friendly pricing for quality accommodation, discounted public transport, and warm, healthy, and fulfilling student meals at the university cafeterias. Moreover, student organisations have a lot of influence over events at the university, and there is never a shortage of events to attend.

The Master's Programme in Data Science

In the interdisciplinary Master's Programme in Data Science, you are trained to work in data-intensive areas of industry and science, with the skills and knowledge needed to construct solutions to complex data analysis problems.

You can specialise either in the core areas of data science -- machine learning and algorithms, infrastructure and statistics -- or in its applications. This means that you can focus on the development of new models and methods in data science, supported by the data science research carried out at the University of Helsinki; or you can become a data science specialist in an application field by incorporating studies in another subject.