David Shannon Race got his first taste of computer programming in the field of cognitive science, studying how the brain works. As he learned more about computer science, he discovered that it overlapped with his interest in information processing. He decided to enroll in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Professional Master’s Program in Computer Sciences and is considering a career in artificial intelligence or machine learning—one that will allow him to use his previous training in cognitive science.
“I thought it would be really interesting to take what I’ve learned so far and combine that with tools from computer sciences,” he says.
Race faced a challenge in going back to school and changing careers, especially with a family to take care of. But he made the leap after scoping out the top-ranked UW-Madison program.
“After being out of school for so long and working, it is difficult to take the first steps when you want to change direction professionally,” he says. “But the Department of Computer Sciences seemed really strong, and my discussions with faculty were very positive. Plus, Madison seemed like a great place to raise a family.”
‘A great entry point’
The Professional Master’s Program in Computer Sciences emphasizes flexibility. It allows students to take as many courses as they can manage each semester and complete the degree in two to three years.
“I think it provides a great entry point for continuing studies, without as big a commitment as traditional graduate programs,” Race says. “At the same time, the department stresses that it wants the Professional Master’s degree to carry the same weight as a traditional master’s.”
Race likes the quality of instruction in the Department of Computer Sciences—not only the professors’ expertise, but also the fact that “they seem to enjoy what they do.”
Though he finds the coursework demanding, he realizes it’s well worth the effort.
“It’s exciting to know that, after I’ve completed my coursework, I will get to work in a field I truly enjoy,” he says.
For more information about the Professional Master’s Program in Computer Sciences, see here.