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!


Sacrificing the Status Quo

The middle of July will mark my three-year anniversary in the corporate world. It will also signal a new beginning. I am leaving my comfortable, 9-5 job to build a startup. It feels surreal to enter this new chapter in my life; the sum of my past thoughts and actions have led me here and will be my compass as I navigate new, mysterious waters.

I have never done this before and can only speculate based on the experiences of others. One thing I believe I can say for sure – this will be one of the most difficult journeys in my life. Normal people don’t leave a life of security to build a startup. 9 out of 10 startups fail, so why would I voluntarily go down this path?

Craziness mixed with optimism. I dream about a bright future for humanity. Most science fiction I have read feels a bit dystopian in nature. I guess that’s because crisis sells. Objectively though, we have the potential to solve many of the world’s problems and transform what it means to be human. Building a better future requires sacrificing the status quo. I felt a lot of cognitive dissonance accepting a steady paycheck at an established company while also aspiring to “change the world” with a new company. Juggling those two mindsets felt disingenuous, and deep inside, I realized I need to take the next step forward. Waiting opportunistically can be a viable strategy… but creating the opportunity yourself is more decisive.

My mission is simple. I want to help people live healthy and fulfilled lives. Your health is not defined by the few times you visit the doctor’s office. Health is a continuous narrative that ebbs and flows with everyday actions. I want to empower people to take control of their health using real-world data. This is an incredibly challenging problem, and if I even marginally succeed, it will be worth it.

The next few months should prove interesting. I will be working through Y Combinator’s Startup School to build the foundations of this new company (name TBD). On an individualistic note, I need to prioritize sleep, physical fitness and nutrition. Bringing out the best version of myself is necessary for this crazy thing to work, and I can’t let those key pieces slip.

That’s enough writing for now. If you are interested in following me on this journey, I will be blogging and creating a podcast. It’s mainly therapeutic for me, but I hope it’s interesting for others too. When I told my roommate that I was leaving my company to build a startup, he said, “Now I can live my life vicariously through you.” Cheers to that.