Brandeis GPS Blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Tag: Master’s Degrees (page 2 of 4)

How to be a Productive Online Student

Online master’s degrees at accredited universities have become increasingly popular over recent years. Many programs, like the ones offered at Brandeis GPS, cater to professionals who are working full time and are seeking a degree to move the needle on their career. Truly asynchronous programs – where students aren’t required to log into a class at a certain time – allow students to set their own schedule when it comes to their academic study.  But for some online learners, the lack of structure can be a challenge. Below are some tips to help you achieve the perfect work-life-school balance while pursuing an online degree.

Schedule Your Time
Schedule your school time just like you would schedule an appointment or meeting. Consistency can be key. And don’t forget to get creative with your study time. Have a long train ride as part of your commute? Take care of your weekly readings while you ride. Drive to work? See if your text book has an audio version and listen in the car. Find a regular time to do your coursework, and soon it will become a part of your daily routine.

Find Your Place of Productivity
Ask yourself when you are most productive. Perhaps it’s on that long train ride where you easily focus. Are you most productive on Sunday afternoons while sitting in your local library? Do you enjoy staying in your pajamas and doing work from your kitchen table? There is no right answer as everyone has different zones of productivity. Make sure the space where you want to work is available and distraction-free in advance. You will get everything done a lot faster if you go in knowing this is your time and place for coursework.

Take a Break
If you have an assignment deadline approaching, you may be tempted to come home after a long day of work and open your computer to get your schoolwork done as quickly as you can. Don’t do that – you want to put your best foot forward! Separate your job from your coursework, take some time to relax, go to the gym, or eat a snack. Keep your brain power focused on what you’re doing so you can achieve results that make you proud.

Participate and Stay Engaged
In an online classroom, it is easy to keep quiet and only participate when necessary. Don’t take that approach: you’re here to learn, after all! Schools like GPS intentionally offer small classes to foster engagement and collaboration among your peers and instructors.

Stay tuned for more tips on how to be a productive online student, and don’t forget to reach out to your advisor or instructor for guidance.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With three 10-week terms each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

GPS launches tuition discount program for military members and spouses

GPS is excited to share  today a new policy that will offer military veterans, active-duty personnel and their spouses a 15 percent tuition discount on our online graduate programs and courses.

The discounts may be used in conjunction with other benefits earned through the Department of Veteran Affairs, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill® and the Yellow Ribbon Program.With this policy, we aim to empower academic and professional success within the U.S. military community.

Learn more here:  www.brandeis.edu/gps/future-students/military-discount.html

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Note to qualified members:

If you’re interested in seeking spring 2017 admission, please submit your application by Dec. 13, 2016. You can also take individual courses for professional development without submitting an application. Registration for the 10-week spring 2017 term opens on Dec. 20, 2016, with class beginning Jan. 18, 2017. Visit www.brandeis.edu/gps for more information.

Boston Globe highlights Brandeis GPS FinTech program

In a recent article on the growing momentum among Boston’s financial start-ups, the Boston Globe profiled GPS faculty member Sarah Biller and her work within the FinTech sector. Biller discusses FinTech trends among millennials, and how she’s adjusting the content of her Evolution of Technology for Financial Services course to explore how the changing presidential administration may impact the industry.

Read the full article here, and request more information about studying FinTech at Brandeis here.

Why your work experience can make or break your grad school application

Whether you’re fresh out of your undergraduate studies or have been working in your field for many years, your professional experience is an incredibly important piece of the Graduate Professional Studies application process. We ask our applicants to provide a resume (or curriculum vitae) and letter of recommendation because these documents not only help tell your story, but they show us that you have the background and expertise to excel in our programs.

Tips for making your resume pop

The admissions committee wants to see your work experience, skills, and strengths. Here’s how to make your resume pop:

  • Highlight your skills: Even if you haven’t been working in your field for all that long, it is important to include any skills that are relevant to the program you are applying for. For example, do you know any programming languages? Is there a particular social media tool you have a lot of personal or professional experience with?
  • Provide detail: Have you ever been told to limit your resume to a one-page maximum? We want to see your accomplishments! Don’t limit yourself because you’re afraid of taking up too much space.
  • Previous coursework: Have you recently taken a course that is relevant to your program of interest? What about a professional development course and/or training session?
  • Previous work experience: Did you take the lead on a major project at a previous job? Did you head a research project? Don’t forget to include details about your previous work experience.

If you are not sure you included everything, ask a co-worker to read your resume over and make some suggestions.

<<start your GPS application>>

Deciding who should submit your letter of recommendation

Another important part of the application process is the letter of recommendation. We ask that you submit one letter of recommendation from an employer or supervisor. Here are some tips when deciding who should write your letter:

  • Previous supervisor or boss: Did you just start a new job? Are you currently not working? Don’t worry, you can submit a letter recommendation from a previous employer or supervisor. You can address your current work situation in your statement of goals.
  • Recent graduate: Did you recently graduate? Are you still searching for a job? Ask someone who supervised you on a research project to write your letter of recommendation. Provide a letter of recommendation from a supervisor where you did an internship. If you volunteer, ask the person who oversees the volunteers to write your letter.
  • Submit two letters: Do you have a supervisor and a manager who can speak to your different skills? While only one letter is required for admission, feel free to ask them both to submit a letter of recommendation.

The admissions committee understands that we have a diverse group of applicants. Our applicants range from recent graduates to those who are many years into their career. The most important part of the recommendation letter is that it is written by someone who has supervised you or seen you work as part of a team.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the application process.

Conquering your application to graduate school

Faces of GPS | Rebecca Weiss

Rebecca WeissOne of the greatest parts of my job is that I am always working with applicants, no matter the time of year. While my counterparts in admissions offices at other universities may have one busy season leading up to their fall application deadline, here at GPS, we have rolling admissions throughout the year and three entry points: fall, spring and summer.

What sets GPS’s admissions process apart is the holistic view that we take when evaluating candidates. Since all our applicants are part-time students and full-time working professionals, we do not focus solely on the typical set of numbers that are associated with graduate school admissions: GPA, GRE, GMAT, school rank, etc. I would like to share a few other factors about what makes GPS unique – these are things that folks should definitely keep in mind as they’re considering pursuing a master’s degree:

  • No GMAT or GRE! If you decide to apply to GPS, do not worry about these exams: we do not require them for admission. We don’t feel like they speak to the nature of what is required to excel in our programs.
  • Experience matters. While some applicants may have studied an undergraduate major relevant to their desired graduate program, many have not. Make sure to highlight your skills, certifications and expertise in your application! (Please note that some programs may have specific requirements, which you can see by clicking on your program of interest here.)
  • Show *and* tell us. The statement of goals is an important piece of our application. We want to know why you are interested in your desired program, what experiences led you down this path, and the goals you hope to achieve through your desired program.
  • Why wait? We have rolling admissions, so while Dec. 13 is our spring 2017 deadline, once your application is complete, we provide you with a decision within 2-3 weeks. This gives you ample time to choose spring courses, connect with your student advisor, and plan out your degree.

<<Start your GPS application>>

I love speaking with our applicants, so please feel free to contact me over email, phone, or if you live in the Boston area, in person! Applying for a master’s degree is a big decision, so I am happy to talk you through the steps and answer any questions you have.

Rebecca Weiss is the Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment at GPS, and with her four years of experience in the office, she has a lot of great advice to offer prospective GPS students.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

GPS launches master’s degree in Financial Technology

FinTech Revolution - Brandeis GPS Blog - Brandeis GPS online Education

GPS is excited to announce the launch of a fully online, part-time master’s degree that is the first of its kind among U.S. colleges and universities: a Master of Science in Digital Innovation for FinTech.

The FinTech degree is geared toward creative thinkers who work for organizations that rely on technology for providing efficient financial services and systems. Developed in conjunction with experts in the field, the program seeks to service a global financial industry where digital advancements are becoming increasingly critical to economic success and market growth. A March 2015 report published by Accenture shows that investments in FinTech tripled between 2013 and 2014 alone. To stay competitive and meet industry demands, startups and international corporations alike will need to invest in untapped technologies and innovations.

View a sample FinTech curriculum or request more information

“Financial technology is everywhere, whether you’re using mobile banking to pay for your monthly mortgage or an app to pay for your morning coffee,” said Anne Marando, executive director of Brandeis GPS. “In a world where more and more institutions are turning to mobile technology to transact business, this program gives financial professionals the tech skills necessary to develop innovative solutions and approaches.”

The program’s part-time nature allows students to complete the 30-credit degree in 1.6 to 3 years. The FinTech curriculum captures the industry’s latest tools and best practices while incorporating the rigorous standards of excellence that make Brandeis one of the country’s top universities. A professional advisory board will monitor and ensure the currency and relevance of the program’s courses, which will cover topics in finance, software, analytics and UX design. Required courses will include:

  • The New Economy: Global Disruption and the Emergence of FinTech
  • Launching FinTech Ventures
  • Mobile Applications and Responsive Web Design

Students interested in joining the MS in FinTech’s inaugural cohort should submit their applications by Aug. 16, 2016. Students may also take individual courses prior to applying for admission or for professional development purposes. Registration for the fall 2016 term opens on Aug. 23, with courses beginning Sept. 14. Visit www.brandeis.edu/gps for more information.

#WhatsYourWhy Wednesday with Kristin Cataquet

We know that pursuing a master’s degree can be overwhelming, particularly for students who work full-time and are already balancing professional and personal commitments. We also know that every student has a unique reason that drives him or her to return to school and complete their degree.

Last fall, we held a scholarship competition and asked our students to tell us their story — their why — behind their decision to enroll in a graduate program. This series will profile our scholarship winners.

Read Part 1 of #WhatsYourWhy Wednesday here.


travel-kcataquet-e1458147356686Graduate Professional Studies:
 I’m here with Kristin Cataquet, a student in our Master of Science in Strategic Analytics program. Congratulations on winning our first “What’s Your Why” scholarship! Go ahead and introduce yourself.

Kristin Cataquet: Thank you! My name is Kristin Cataquet. I’m from Washington D.C. but currently live in Boston.

GPS: How many courses have you taken with GPS so far?

KC: I have taken six courses, and I’m taking two this semester.

GPS: Wow, you’re almost done!

KC: Yes, and I am very excited about that!

GPS: Tell me more about what you do for work.

KC: I am a quality data analyst at Keurig Green Mountain, the single-serve coffee brewer. My responsibilities differ by the hour. I often work with engineers and leadership; looking at different analytical models to gain insight and make better decisions for our company.

GPS: What made you want to go back to school to get your graduate degree?

KC: When I was moving to Boston, I realized that a lot of the jobs that I was applying to preferred candidates with master’s degrees. I decided to do some research and see what kind of graduate programs are out there, and Brandeis came up. I travel a lot for work, and Strategic Analytics was one of the only programs that offered the subject matter I wanted while still enabling me to do my job the way I need to.

At first, I was just looking for that graduate school check mark. But since starting classes and even before then, I started to realize that I really do enjoy bettering myself and becoming better every day. GPS has really helped me fulfill that want and that need.

GPS: That’s great to hear, and it also segues into my next question: what made you choose Brandeis over the other schools you considered?

KC: It was a combination of the online nature of the program, the availability of the instructors and just the overall coursework. I took an online class during undergrad and felt like I did not learn anything and was under-challenged. But it’s a completely different story at GPS. The program is incredibly challenging, and I find it awesome and effective in terms of learning and retaining the information because while you’re partially self-teaching, you have guidance. You have the advantage of studying subject matter that is as high-level or low-level as you want. That option is necessary for students in analytics, where every job and company is different. You want to learn as much as possible in as little amount of time to make yourself more valuable.

GPS: What else do you hope to get out of this program?

KC: I work in a company where analytics is a relatively new field, and a lot of the higher-level employees in our department have left. This has given lower-level employees the opportunity to lead the way, and it would be great to be able to do that accurately and effectively. So, my goal is not necessarily a promotion, but to feel more confident in my own abilities and what I’m capable of doing. I’ve learned that I really do love what I do. It’s kind of like figuring out that you’re a really good soccer player and then pushing yourself to become a professional soccer player. I’ve realized that I’m good at this, but I want to be really good at this.

GPS: Speaking of soccer, what are some of your hobbies outside Keurig and the classroom?


kcataquet-salsa-dancing-e1458147459657KC:
Besides my full-time job, I work part-time at my old company. Outside of that, I probably play volleyball four times a week and my husband and I do a lot of salsa dancing. We love to hike and we love to travel.

GPS:  Is there anything else you want to tell us about your experience with Graduate Professional Studies?

KC: When I came into the program, I really thought it was going to solely focus on analytics — that I would learn tools about modeling and other new skills. And that’s partially what’s happening. But there is also a whole other level to the program that’s surprised me: it’s learning about leadership, being a good employee and being a good boss. It’s learning to conduct yourself more professionally, building communications skills, and changing your approach to how you view a company. I didn’t necessarily know that I needed those types of skills, but all of the sudden, even after just my first term at Brandeis, I’ve realized I know so much more about my company and how it operates. It has been really rewarding to not only acquire skills on the technical level but on the leadership and professional level as well.

#WhatsYourWhy Wednesday with Heather Ryder

We know that pursuing a master’s degree can be overwhelming, particularly for students who work full-time and are already balancing professional and personal commitments. We also know that every student has a unique reason that drives him or her to return to school and complete their degree.

Last fall, we held a scholarship competition and asked our students to tell us their story — their why — behind their decision to enroll in a graduate program. This series will profile our scholarship winners.

GraduDadnMe-169x300ate Professional Studies: I’m here with Heather Ryder, a student in our Master of Science in Information Technology Management program. Congratulations on winning our first “What’s Your Why” scholarship! Go ahead and introduce yourself.

Heather Ryder: Thank you! My name is Heather Ryder. I’m originally from Freeport, Maine, and I currently live in Newton, Massachusetts.

GPS: Tell me a little about your day job.

HR: I work at HubSpot, a marketing and sales software company in Cambridge. I’ve been here for almost five years, and I manage our help desk team. We have a team of six people here in the U.S., and we support our employees all over the globe. I also do some system administration, and act as a liaison between different departments on projects involving IT.

GPS: Great. Let’s switch gears a bit and talk more about why you decided to go back to school.

HR: I kind of went back and forth with the decision for a while. I wanted to continue learning outside of the workplace, and I had just moved into a managerial role at work — that was something very new to me so I wanted to build my skillsets in that area. No one in my family has attended graduate school and I have a huge family (my dad is one of five, my mom is one of six).

GPS: What made you choose Brandeis over some of the other schools you looked at?

HR: I was really looking for a program that supported online learning, it’s so much easier for my schedule. Sometimes I work really long hours depending on what we’re doing, or I have nightly calls with Sydney, Singapore and some of our offices on the other side of the world. I was looking for classes that supported those types of hours.

Brandeis stuck out because Janice, my student advisor, was just so incredible with helping me through the registration process. And the fact that I could take a course prior to actually applying to see if it was a good fit for me was awesome. I’m only taking two classes per year right now, just because of work and everything, and Janice has been great about making sure I don’t miss my required courses and setting me up for success. That was something really important to me because I’m going on this journey that nobody in my family has gone on before, and it’s so valuable to have someone give me advice on being a working professional who is also in school. Her advice is so hands on point and I absolutely love that.

GPS: What do you hope to gain professionally with the degree?

HR: As I mentioned, HubSpot has international offices that we’ve opened over the course of the past three years. This is a huge area of growth for us, we really want to go global as a company. No one on our team has a lot of experience when it comes to taking an IT team global. How do you handle communications, organizational structure changes, management and leadership? I realized there’s so much expertise that I don’t have, so many things I’m going up against that I have never experienced before. A lot of the courses in my program specifically tackle these challenges. I’m really excited about all these changes on my team, but I know that I could really benefit from talking to other professionals who have gone through a similar process.

GPS: Do you have anything to expand on in terms of personal goals or how you think this degree will fit into your life outside of the office?

HR: When I first started at HubSpot I was incredibly shy. Now that I’m in a management role and help motivate people on my team, that’s like a new world for me. Just working with other professionals in my classes has helped me come out of my shell. They’ve really helped me figure out how to balance my personality versus the personalities of other individuals. This is helpful not only at work, but with personal relationships, too. I also want to show the young women in my family (my cousins who are much younger than me), that the option of getting a master’s degree is available to them. And show them that they can really do anything: they can go to grad school or undergraduate school, and work, and start a family.

GPS: Why do you think that you’re going to be successful in completing this program?

HR: Hands down, it’s because of the program’s flexibility. As I mentioned, my advisor has been great about keeping me on track with my courses. And because we have five years to finish the program, I know I don’t have to worry if something major comes up at work or in my personal life. Right now, I’m planning my wedding for this fall, so I know that I can skip a term if I need to.

GPS: Can you think of an example of any course assignments that have directly impacted anything that you’re doing at work?

HR: Absolutely! In one of my most recent classes, Strategic Information Technologies, we wrote a paper about the pros and cons of software that we want to implement into our work environment. I used the format covered in my paper to look at six different processes we’re currently using at HubSpot, I measured the benefits of each technology, and evaluated the benefits of each one. That helped us move from six knowledge-based software that we were using to three.

GPS: Tell me more about your hobbies outside of school or work.

HR: I have a six-year-old stepdaughter that I enjoy spending my weekends with. I’m also learning Russian kind of on my own. I love to write and to read, and I play board games and video games to decompress. I also really like to bake and cook, and I love watching baking and cooking shows. So a lot of different options when I have free time!

 

Meet the Brandeis GPS Instructional Designers

At Brandeis GPS, we are always working to improve our online courses to be more interactive and collaborative. Meet two of the reasons we are able to constantly improve. Carol Damm & Jennifer Livengood, our instructional design team!

jennifer-livengood

Instructional Designer, Jennifer Livengood

carol-damm

Instructional Designer, Carol Damm

How long have you each been in the instructional design field?

Carol Damm: Before GPS, I was with a  company that developed e-learning for about three years.

Jennifer Livengood: Four years as a full time job, but professionally ten years.

What is your favorite part of your instructional design work?

CD:  It’s hard to narrow it down! I like problem solving.  Instructional design is like being given a blank slate, and for me what’s fun is trying to figure out which is the best approach. So I guess it’s the process of finding out which design works best for a course.

JL: Being creative. It’s in the job title!

What are ways you can use to innovate an online course that you can’t use in an in person course?

CD: Bringing the students a one -on-one interactive experience with a topic.  With an online courses you can actually use tools to help develop students skills and increase collaboration.

JL: You can build things that are individually interactive, so the student gets individual attention. An online classroom is  a place for students to explore through a discussion board. Quiet students can communicate more in a discussion board where they may have been been shy in person. It truly brings out personalities.

JLQuote

Can you tell me about a great experience you’ve had designing GPS courses?

CD: What I like about it the most are the instructors and working with them. I feel like I am a perpetual student because, for many of the courses, I have no experience in most of the instructors’ fields of expertise. I love connecting with them and advising them on how to engage students with the topics and materials in their courses.InstructionalDesign

JL: Working on the professional communications course with Jennifer Drewry. We both brought our own ideas and between the two of us we were able to revise her course and make it more fun and interactive.

Can you tell me an example of a specific improvement you have made to a course and any feedback you’ve received as a result?

CD:  Lately, I’ve made recommendations on how  an instructor can take their topic and create effective discussion questions that will allow students to bring their own experience and knowledge to the discussion. You want the students to bring their ideas into this more social realm and to be as collaborative as possible not only with instructors but with other students.

JL: At a previous job I made the improvement of having the instructors come in and do a video. They weren’t previously in the course. Having the students come in and see their [professor’s] face, hear their voice. The student feedback said they liked it!

CDQuote

What is the most creative thing you have ever done for a course?

CD: Working on developing a presentation, a micro-lesson, that will teach some rudimentary SQL (Structured Query Language) coding. What I want to do is make it interactive so that students will have to put in the right code to get to the next lesson. It’s creative and students really respond well to the interactive lessons. In the past I’ve done some videography work as well as editing. I love that, it’s lots of fun, very creative. The two contribute to a lesson and make it more interesting.

JL: Working with two instructors in the language department and creating interactive games for their courses. Really pushing the limit on some of the software. It was unique and fun for the students. Unlike taking a normal multiple choice quiz where it’s a little boring.

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Adapting Design to the User

Written by: Kelsey Whitaker, A Senior at Brandeis University

The way in which people experience design is a vital factor in the success of any creation. There is currently a growing movement of designers who search to implement technologies that adapt to the user. This is where the newest Master of Science program at Brandeis GPS in User-Centered design comes in. User-centered design covers fields including Human Factors, Human Computer Interaction, and User Experience. Human factors deal with the physical factors of interaction as well as the psychological and social factors of design. Human computer interaction is concerned with the interfaces between humans and computers and how these factors influence user experience. User experience deals with the usability issues of design. In addition to providing students with an advanced understandingUCDGraph of these areas, the program at Brandeis GPS will provide students with the leadership skills necessary to implement and advocate for design thinking.

Currently, the field of User-centered design is in high demand and expected to grow significantly over the next ten years. CNN Money recently voted the profession as the #14 best job in America. It was also featured in Glassdoor’s list of “25 Highest Paying Jobs with the Most Openings Right Now.” “User experience has caught on so much, both as something that people enjoy doing and something that is more and more widely recognized as being valuable to a growing number of companies,” says user experience designer Louisa Armbrust. The applications of user-centered design are broad and specialization can be found in fields such as information architecture, web designing, engineering, interactive media, and technology. Leading organizations that are currently hiring user-centered designers include Amazon, IBM, Disney, Apple, and several more.

UCD

The Brandeis GPS user-centered design degree program is geared towards individuals who are currently working in fields such as information technology, computer science, information architecture, web design, and other related areas, who are looking to extend their expertise in human factors of design. The Brandeis GPS program is unique because there are few online master’s degree programs in this field, none of which are geared towards developing leadership. In addition to a focus on leadership development, the available electives will create possibilities for students to graduate with skills in user interface design. This is an altogether different field than user-centered design, however, employers generally search for individuals with skills in both. The 30 credit program consists of 7 required courses and 3 electives.

Interested in the User-centered design program at Brandeis GPS? Apply now! To learn more about the program, contact 781-736-8787 or  gps@brandeis.edu.

 

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