It has been one hell of a ride... after finishing my last exam for my final course CS6515 - Intro to Graduate Algorithms here at Georgia Tech, I am now unofficially graduated from this OMSCS program! Why unofficially? Well, for obvious reason, I haven't got the diploma or graduation certificate yet, even though there aren't any remaining coursework/agenda to complete or courses for me to take. So yeah, now I am a free man and I want to share my experience with you all, especially for those who are looking to pursue a master degree in Computer Science remotely while working full-time (or anyone who is interested in this program in general).

So, where should I begin?

Before I begin, I wanted to say choosing this Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) program was never part of my plan. I never thought that one day I would begin this journey and stick around till the end. It all started back in late 2019, I remembered the time I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I had to study or learn something useful (so that I am not lacking behind), so I had been busy checking out those online courses from Udemy, Coursera, Udacity, etc. and also looking for some bootcamps as well. The problem was, as good as those courses were, there weren't any motivation or incentives for me to study or complete them. Deep down I knew those were the goodies, but it just didn't work out for me.

One day while I was browsing the Internet, I came across a degree program offered by Arizona State University. It was a legit master degree program which cost about $15k in total and everything could be accomplished online. I told my wife about it, the price seemed reasonable and I was also looking to study something, broaden my knowledge and whatnot. Plus, almost everyone had one or more master degrees in something nowadays. It occurred to me that maybe I could also pursue a master degree out of my own pocket. So, I did more and more research and I finally found this OMSCS program! I couldn't remember where and how exactly I found it in the first place, but getting to know there exists such an awesome and affordable program was truly a gem for me. The whole program cost about $6k-7k, which was significantly less than most of the online degree programs out there. Plus, this program was offered by one of the most prestigious universities in US - Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech was also ranked #5 in Engineering (ranked by USNews in 2023). After reading tons of reviews and information regarding this program, I decided to apply for it. There were quite some items to be submitted along with the application, for example, the transcript from previous college/university, cover letter and resume, some free-form essay questions to be answered, recommendation letters, etc. (no TOEFL or IELTS thankfully). Getting the recommendation letters were the hardest of all, fortunately, I asked few of my professors at SUNY Buffalo (university where I attended previously) and they responded back and agreed to write the recommendation letters for me! Without professional recommendation letters from them, I might not have made it through the application process, so I am really thankful and grateful for that!

It took me a few months before I got an official email from Georgia Tech that I got admitted to this OMSCS program! I couldn't be more happier that I made up my decision to apply for this program and then got admitted to this program. At that period of time, the whole US was experiencing one of the worst pandemics ever and most of us were forced to work from home. It was a perfect opportunity for me to work and study at the same time too.

It took me 3 years to finally complete this program. Even though some people could finish this program in 2 years (5 courses each year, 2 courses in Spring, 2 courses in Fall, 1 course in Summer), I didn't want to rush things and I would rather study at my own pace. For the first semester, I only took one course because I wasn't sure how much time I should put in and I also didn't know how challenging it could be. Also, I skipped summers as I heard summer classes tend to be a lot shorter and less contents. Anyway, here's the courses that I have taken for each semester:

Fall 2020
CS6400 - Database System Concepts & Design (click here for review)

Spring 2021
CS6035 - Intro to Information Security (click here for review)
CS6250 - Computer Networks (click here for review)

Fall 2021
CS6262 - Network Security
CS6310 - Software Architecture & Design

Spring 2022
CS6340 - Software Analysis & Testing
CSE6242 - Data & Visual Analytics

Fall 2022
CS6300 - Software Development Process
CS7646 - Machine Learning for Trading

Spring 2023
CS6515 - Intro to Graduate Algorithms

I am majoring in Computer Science with specialization in Computer Systems. I am currently maintaining a 3.9/4.0 GPA which I have put in lots of time and effort for. Honestly, I really learn a lot from this program. It is one of the best achievements for me in 2023!

For the next few days/weeks, I will begin revisiting and relearning the things/materials I have learned previously. I will also write my own review for each course, ex: what the course is about, what I like or dislike about it, etc. There are so many things to write and share, so stay tuned for more updates!

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