MOOCs vs. structured programs: What is the best option for you?

Technological progress knows no limits, and Data Science applications are drastically changing the landscape in business, research, and everyday life. Data Science is everywhere, and it’s providing the most promising career opportunities - but to succeed as Data Scientist, you need to combine technical and analytical skills with creativity, a willingness to experiment, and critical thinking.


So, what is the best strategy for learning DataScience?

You can choose between free (or almost free) online courses (Massive Online Learning Courses – MOOCs) and fully structured programs such as postgraduate programs and bootcamps. Here, we will compare the two options to help you choose the right one for you.


How and to what extent can MOOCs help you?

MOOCs are a good start for someone unfamiliar with DataScience or who has decided to switch careers. The desire to learn and stay disciplined throughout the course is essential. MOOCs can help you as long as you already have a solid background in Mathematics, Statistics, and Programming. You should also know that MOOCs don’t give you the opportunity to practice on real-world problems. Nor will you learn a realistic and detailed approach to everyday problem-solving. However, they provide a good way to stay up to date on DataScience, since they enrich their content as the industry evolves.


MOOCs vs. Bootcamp: Career impact

According to many recruiters, free online courses do not provide adequate skills, so the percentage of people hired as Data Scientists only because they have completed these courses is low. MOOCs alone don’t lead to a recognizable qualification, sufficient to secure a job from a large tech company.

On the other hand, a master’s degree certifies a deep knowledge of DataScience theory without providing a connection to practical application, as required by companies today. Practical application of Data Science theory and the final projects completed in the bootcamps often make a difference when companies decide who to hire. Recruiters value the soft skills a Data Scientist acquires through practical training in the bootcamp environment.

In addition, bootcamps provide significant job search guidance and support to graduates, such as training and interview tips, building a strong portfolio, etc. The environment of a bootcamp brings you closer to the job market, as you become a member of a vibrant community with an active role in DataScience.


MOOCs vs. Bootcamp: Time and Money

When you enroll at a MOOC, you study at your own pace according to your own schedule. You can log in and study whenever you want, but you may waste valuable time trying to figure out precisely what you need to know to become competitive in the field.

On the other hand, you can achieve your goals faster and more efficiently through organized programs, such as masters and bootcamps, because of the personal guidance they offer. A relationship is built between you and your instructor, and all the advice you receive is personalized.

Certainly, MOOCs offer affordable Data Science education compared to the cost of an organized program, but the depth of knowledge and support the two provide is very different.


MOOCs vs. Bootcamp: Engagement and Motivation

A bootcamp program is structured and provides you with the dense knowledge you need in an active and encouraging environment to meet the DataScience challenges. You have the daily support you need as well as feedback and personalized advice from industry experts.

Participating in a MOOC requires serious discipline, dedication, and patience to make up for the lack of personal guidance that will take you to the next step. This can be discouraging, and you should consider it if you want to pursue a career in Data Science.

Choosing a bootcamp allows you to become a member of a team of experienced professionals, stay updated on Data Science and learn industry insights. Ongoing support is offered throughout the procedure by keeping an open line of communication even after completing the course. Your Data Science journey is just starting.

Big Blue graduates already work for big tech companies, using all the skills they acquired. Here you can read their stories.


Bootcamp means commitment and access to the job market

The (almost) free online programs are possibly the first step for anyone interested in Data Science and will definitely keep you informed about the latest trends. But if you are truly interested in a Data Science career, nothing can replace the knowledge, real-world experience, support, and opportunities provided at the bootcamp. At Big Blue Data Academy, we put a strong emphasis on the practical qualifications and the soft skills required by companies today.


You can find more details about the Big Blue Data Bootcamp, here:

Full-time program - 3 months

Part-time program - 6 months

Here you can find out more about the status of Data Science in Greece.

By Evgenia Profi