My DIY Masters in Data Science and AI

Image by Seanbatty from Pixabay

I decided to create my own Masters Program. It’s partly because I’m disillusioned by the outrageous costs of university tuition and formal degrees. Sure, there were some great classes I took as an undergrad, but even in that environment the majority of my learning came from outside the classroom (often accompanied by a pack of IPAs or a joint).

As an entrepreneur, self-learning is pretty much in the job description. I completed Y Combinator’s Startup School program a couple months ago and felt my ability to grow my startup was limited as a solo, non-technical founder. So I decided to create this “Masters” degree to maintain positive momentum while filling gaps in my knowledge.

I opted for an emphasis on application rather than theory. The master practitioner has a deep intuition for his craft. I chose specific course sequences that would teach me practical skills and let me build out a portfolio of projects. I also intentionally selected courses from a variety of institutions to learn from a range of perspectives.

One quick note on the Coursera specializations… I felt that paying to complete them would help motivate me. It’s definitely not mandatory as the courses can be taken for free, but it created a layer of legitimacy and sense of urgency in my mind.

Without further ado, here’s my Masters in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence:



  • Independent Project – more to come later but will be related to Chess960 (otherwise known as Fischer Random)
  • Kaggle Competitions
    • 2 bronze medals OR
    • 1 silver medal
  • Communication
    • Early write-up
    • Post write-up

Assuming I finish each Specialization in less than a month, that brings the total cost to just $200, or about 141 McChickens with tax. I’m optimistic the price will be well worth the knowledge and skills gained. For comparison, finishing this program will cost about 1/20th the price of a single university course for credit (~$4000).

Questions on how I designed the program? Have you created an independent learning experience for yourself? Leave a comment with your thoughts below!


One reply on “My DIY Masters in Data Science and AI”

This is a fantastic venture Aakaash, and I wholeheartedly support it. I was just reminded of one of the earliest rules of thumb I learned when I started playing chess – “continue to develop (improve your pieces) till the very end of the game”. Self-education I now realize is in exactly the same vein – one should always be trying to better one’s understanding and strive towards mastery.

A quick feedback on the Kaggle competitions goal – from what little I know those things can be challenging, so I would definitely try to give that task the proper amount of time and respect, since there’s a lot of learning to be had from it too.

Good luck and looking forward to more updates!


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