The path to Data Science in Switzerland

Hello everyone!

Lately, I have been writing a lot about Data Science and Data Scientists. So maybe you have been thinking of getting into Data Science yourself and trying to get a job in this field. There are some schools here in Switzerland which offer training… in this blogpost, I am going to present to you the ones I know of.

Some background knowledge

Here in Switzerland our school system is a little bit different. Or at least so I am told by all the people who did not go to school here. You usually go to primary school for 6 years, then secondary school for 3 and then you can either go and do an apprenticeship or do some more school (called “Gymnasium”) and then go to university. The details actually do also depend on the canton in which you live.

I myself did an apprenticeship. I know that this is something that really differentiates Switzerland from other countries. Doing an apprenticeship is just as good as going to uni and then starting working. This path has another advantage over the options in other countries. Namely, if you did an apprenticeship and then want to go on with school, you could go to a university of applied sciences (called “Fachhochschule”). These schools offer part-time and full-time studies, which means that you can still work up to 80% while going to school. In the end, you will also hold a Bachelor’s Degree in your hands. They also offer Master’s studies, though I honestly have never really looked into them, so I do not know too much about them.

This is just a really really rough description of it and please don’t hate on me for not going into detail more. This is just so you can understand the requirements the different pieces of training a little better.

Masters at the University Level

ETH Zürich is offering a Master’s in Data Science. This is a two-year full-time study taught in English. It starts every year in autumn. You will have lectures in various fields and should already have a good knowledge of statistics, mathematics and computer science. They require a lot of paperwork for the application, so make sure you have enough time to get all the documents you need and hand them in before the deadline. You find more information on the ETH page here.

The University of Zürich offers a Master’s Degree in Computer Science with a major or minor in Data Science. You can check it out here.

Also, EPFL is offering a Master’s Degree in Data Science. The lectures are also held in English. I saw one or two lectures in French, but I am not sure whether or not they are compulsory. This is also a full-time Master. You find more information about it here.

All the above require a Bachelor’s Degree from a university or something similar. They might make you take some extra lectures if you do not fulfil the requirements sufficiently.

I did not find any more universities which offered a Master’s (or Bachelor’s for that matter) with an explicit mentioning of Data Science. If you know another one in Switzerland, please let me know down below in the comments.

Masters at “Fachhochschule”

If you have done your Bachelor’s Degree at a university of applied sciences you might want to do a Master’s at a Fachhochschule 🙂 HTW Chur offers a Master’s in Information and Data Management. I did not find it explicitly stated but I think this is taught in German. They mention that you can either do the master in two to four years. So I guess you could work a little while studying. You can read more about this degree here.

HSLU (Hochschule Luzern) is offering a similar Master in Applied Information and Data Science. Check it out here. Again I think this is taught in German and a full-time study.

They do also require a Bachelor’s Degree in order to get admitted.

Not gonna lie here, I  know of no one who is doing one of these Master’s. So if you are doing it or have done it, let me know down below in the comments what you think of it so far and whether you can recommend it.

Master’s of Advanced Studies (MAS)

This kind of study is targeted at people who are already in the “working” life and do not want to go back to uni and do a full-time study. The requirements are usually a Bachelor’s Degree and a minimum amount of work experience. You’d better check the exact requirements on each school’s page. These MAS are mostly offered by universities of applied sciences. They consist of three to four CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies) and one master thesis (I am not sure whether this is the exact translation, but you have a few months time to work on a project and then have to hand in a lot of papers about it).

I am not 100% sure but I think most of them are taught in German. You might want to check that if you are not fluent in German.

The really cool thing about this way of studying is that you can still work and transfer what you have learned directly to your workplace. Usually, school takes place one day a week or on the weekend or half a day during the week and half a day on the weekend. But this also really depends on the school. Below you find a list of schools which offer a MAS in Data Science and the respective link to the page.

Traditional Fachhochschule

Fernfachhochschule

For the super busy people or if you have for example children at home and do not want to spend more time away there is a school called FFHS. This is a school, which is based mostly on studying at home. This means that you will do most of the learning yourself with the material they provide and you will attend class every once in a while. Also, they offer a DAS (Diploma of Advanced Studies) instead of a MAS. The difference is, that the DAS consists of three CAS and no “thesis”.

Bootcamps

Bootcamps always sound like a fitness thing to me. But they also exist for Data Science 😉 The only one I know of here in Switzerland is Propulsion Academy. They offer a three-months full-time training and require you to do a lot at home next to the lectures. You can go and check it out here.

A friend of mine told my (while we were talking about this blogpost) of EPFL Extension School, which is online-based but sometimes offers on site-events, such as discounted tickets to conferences, additional workshops or hackathons. They also grant 15 ECTS points upon successful completion of their programs, and a Certificate of Open Studies. You can read more about it here.

What I went for

I myself had to choose between one of these options. And it was not an easy decision. To me, Data Science is the coolest thing ever and I could not wait to get started and I tried to sneak in as much as I could in my free time and in my daily work. I would read about it after work and learn to code in the evenings all by myself. Which is fun, but eventually it is cooler to go to school and also learn from classmates and teachers.

Option 1

I have been thinking about doing the Master at ETH. But I did not feel like being a student again. To me working is very fulfilling and I did not want to give that up or reduce my employment to 20-40%. If you do not come straight from uni, you want to take into account that you already have know-how and a network. Hence you might not want to give that up or let that rest for the time you go back to a full-time study.

Option 2

Some things take time. I have been thinking about going to a bootcamp, but in the end, I decided against it. I know myself and I need time to think about statistical methods or math problems. And also if I want to do some extra research, I need time for that too. But this is just me.

My option

In the end, I went for the MAS, which has been the best way of learning Data Science properly for me. It does not mean that this is the way for you. But this way I can still work a lot (I am still on my 100% employment) and do the studying and homework in the evening and on the weekends. Next to this, I still have time to learn Python and write this blog etc…

I hope this was helpful for you. Let me know what you think about the different schools or whether you are currently doing one of the mentioned studies!

Thank you for reading!

Blondie


This post has also been published on the blog of womenplusplus, although in a slightly different version 😉

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