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Live Chat with Chicago Booth and Masters Program in Computer Science

The MBA/MPCS program is a joint program allowing students to earn both an MBA from the Booth School of Business and an MS in Computer Science from the Masters Program in Computer Science (MPCS). The joint program is intended to offer students the opportunity to combine a business education with technology skills and become leaders within entrepreneurship, fintech, and technology management. If you are considering the joint MBA/MPCS degree, join this live chat with admissions staff and current joint degree students. 

 Chat Transcript

 Guest: Could I ask you the typical employers who would like to hire the graduates of this joint-degree program (rather than single MBA program)? What well-known investment banks and private equity funds hire them?

* Karin Czaplewski: The MPCS has a very high placement rate with graduates gaining full-time employment in the following fields — technology, finance/trading, research organizations/universities, start-ups and IT consulting. 60% of graduates are employed in software development/engineering; other areas with significant alumni are technology product management, FinTech, data analysis and research. You may view the companies that have hired our students here: https://masters.cs.uchicago.edu/sites/masters/files/uploads/7_Employers_Fall17.pdf

Guest: (1) What type of computer science background or competency is the program expecting? How does one go about showing this in the application? (2) Is there a diversity recruiter for this specific dual degree? (2) If so, would they be able to connect me to MLT alums (management leaders for tomorrow, a prep program for minority MBA applicants in the US)?

*Molly Stoner: We look for a very quantitative and professional background or ability, not necessarily technical. If you do not have a background in programming or discrete math, we offer two prerequisite (CS immersion) courses (100 units each) a student must fulfill either through course completion or placement exams. These courses are offered in both summer and winter quarters: MPCS 50101 Concepts of Programming and MPCS 50103 Math for Computer Science: Discrete Math. The MPCS Supplement portion of the application specifically asks for information about your background and previous coursework/professional experience.

The full time MBA program has a diversity recruiting lead that can connect you with MLT alums.

Guest: What qualities have some of the most successful students in this program shared?

* Juan Vasquez: The joint degree is a challenging program since it gets deeper on the "technical" aspects than a regular MBA. I'd say that the most successful students are both curious in nature and not afraid to work hard on classwork.

Guest: What level of background is a student expected to have in CS before applying to the masters in computer science program?

* Borja Sotomayor: The MPCS is unique in that we accept applicants with and without a formal CS background. Students without a CS background will usually have to take one or two of our immersion classes (https://masters.cs.uchicago.edu/page/ms-computer-science-immersion) to get up to speed before they can take the regular classes in the MPCS program.

Guest: Can I learn any knowledge and skills for AI that might be utilized in financial sector?

* Borja Sotomayor: The MPCS offers a number of courses that are relevant to students who want to pursue careers in finance, including High Performance Computing, Time Series Analysis, and Numerical Methods. We offer a number of Machine Learning classes, which, while not specifically oriented towards finance, can be applicable to students who want to pursue data-centric careers in finance.

Guest: I would like to know what is the advantage of doing this program over just an MBA or MS program?

* Juan Vasquez: Personally, I see two main advantages. First, one is that you learn skills to interface with both the technical and managerial world, which opens up a new set of opportunities for you in the marketplace. Second, is that, although an MBA is already useful for most managerial positions, some companies are evolving to require more technical knowledge to keep up with the speed of their industries. In addition to that, as an international, you get the STEM benefit!

Guest: Are students who join the program able to participate in the study abroad programs? Alternatively, experiential learning programs that require travel internationally?

* Karin Czaplewski: Booth students can participate with the international program.
Guest: How much are the GMAT scores in quant considered in the acceptance process?
* Molly Stoner: For admission to the MPCS, we look for strong evidence of quantitative and technical ability. We can see this from previous coursework that was quantitative or technical in nature; however, for those students without any quantitative background, we place strong emphasis on the quantitative GRE/GMAT score.

On average, we look for scores above the 80th percentile on the GRE quantitative section, and above the 70th percentile on the GMAT quantitative section.

If you have already sent your scores to Booth, you will only be required to self-report your GMAT scores on your MPCS application. We will obtain your official GMAT scores from Booth when we start the review process.

Guest: What types of full time roles have you seen graduates from this joint program go into? Mostly tech?

* Molly Stoner: Joint program students have interest in careers in technology product management, FinTech and entrepreneurship. Many have found that to be successful managing technical people or products, a more technical oriented skill set is necessary.

To give you an idea of how alums use the mix of skills, you may also be interested in viewing our MPCS Alumni Profiles — more specifically, Alvin Yu (Joint MBA/MPCS Program graduate).


Guest: How are courses that might fit both degree requirements treated? For example, if you took Booth's Machine Learning course, would that count toward your MBA, the MPCS, or both? Would you have the option to choose which degree it is counted towards?

* Juan Vasquez: The joint degree already lowers the coursework required (instead of 20 Booth classes + 9-11 MPCS classes, you do only a total of 21-23). Therefore, no other classes can count towards both degrees at the same time. In your particular example, I'd say that the ML classes at Booth and at CS are different in nature (yes, there is some overlap, but they tackle the subject from different angles and with different levels of depth vs. breadth). So, if you take ML at Booth, that counts towards the MBA; and if you take ML in the CS department, that counts towards the MS.

Guest: What do you think are the main benefits of this program?

* Tran Le: If you are thinking of going into the tech industry (especially for PM roles but also applicable to many other roles) but you do not have much prior technical background, the program will provide you the knowledge and skills required. For examples, companies like Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn will strongly preferred students with CS background for their PM roles. Additionally, having both business skill and technical skill help you stand out from other candidates in a tech interviews.

Guest: Hi, I have a few questions in regards to the MPCS and the immersion program for non-CS majors. Are you able to share any data on what percentage of MPCS students have entered through the immersion program and/or the percent of students who enroll in the immersion program that go on to complete the MPCS? Exact figures aren’t necessary if you have a ‘feel’ for the answer. Lastly, can anyone speak to any personal experience that they or someone they know has had in the immersion program pathway to degree completion? Thank you.

* Karin Czaplewski: We have a high successful rate of students starting with the immersion classes and then completing their MPCS degree. We would happy to put you in touch with a current student who has completed the immersion courses and now taking their core courses.

Guest: What programming software will students use (learn) in their classes?

* Borja Sotomayor: Students who do our immersion phase learn to program in either Python or Java. Students who already have a CS background (or have completed the immersion phase) must take a Core Programming class, where they can gain further knowledge in C, Java, Python, or Swift. We also offer electives for students who want to take a deeper dive in C++.
Other classes will have their own programming prerequisites, but most of our classes can be completed in any of the languages we offer in our Core Programming requirement, with only a few classes restricting the choice of language (e.g., students taking our Operating Systems class must specifically know C).

Guest: In your opinion what would you say is the advantage of the program and who is the program most beneficial for?

* Tran Le: The program helps you learn the technical skills required to transition to the tech industry in a short amount of time and will be most beneficial for those who want to enter the tech industry but do not have much prior technical background.

Guest: How have students of the MBA/MPCS successfully integrated with both graduate communities?

* Juan Vasquez: I'd personally say that most Booth students are more integrated with the Booth community, but that's mainly because of the tremendous amount of opportunities at the MBA program. However, if your career path makes the case for you to be more involved in the CS program, there are plenty of opportunities to do so (Hack Nights, Tech Talks, etc.).

Guest: What would you estimate as the # of hours of homework/lab work required per week for the CS classes?

* Tran Le: It depends on classes, but for me; it often ranges from 3 hours / week to 15 hours / week. Also it might depend on your technical background. For me, CS homework often take me about twice to three times longer to do than MBA classes.

Guest: How many people are in the joint degree program?

* Molly Stoner: We currently have 40 students in the joint MBA/MPCS program.

Guest: Have any MBA/MPCS graduates gone on to get PhDs in CS or business?

* Karin Czaplewski: At this time, none of our graduates have gone to a PhD program.

Guest: How should a prospective applicant go about deciding whether to apply to both programs concurrently or wait to apply until their first year? What do placement rates look like in both scenarios?

* Molly Stoner: If you are a full time student, it is best to start with, the MBA program and join the MPCS in your first year.

Guest: Typically, how much flexibility do students have choosing courses when in the joint program?

* Juan Vasquez: Flexibility is always present at Booth! You are required to take 14 classes from Booth: three foundations, where you can choose the level; 6 functions, where you can choose from a wide variety of alternatives, and 5 electives. At the CS department, there would be 2 immersion classes (depending on your background you could waive them), then 4 core classes (there's several options on languages for the programming class, or parts of the computer systems environment for the systems class), and additionally 3 electives (and they cover topics from Data Science to High Performing Computing)

Guest: How is the recruiting process different between the Full-time MBA/MPCS experience and the Evening/Weekend MBA/MPCS experience?

*Kim Ge: The only difference in the experience is the application deadlines and the length of the programs. 

Guest: Will the admissions committee review the two program applications together or are admission decisions made entirely independently by the two schools?

* Kim Ge: Thank you for joining us today! Each admissions department (Computer Science and MBA) reviews the applications separately.

Guest: I'm currently running my own business, and do not intend to stop while getting an MBA. I think my schedule is flexible enough to allow me to study full-time. How many courses do students in MPCS take per quarter on average? For Tran and Juan, how manageable do you think the workload is for someone who also spends ~6-8 hours working per day?

* Juan Vasquez: We have several part time students doing the joint degree. I'd say that the main difference between choosing a Part Time vs a Full Time is whether you'll be most available during the morning/afternoon, or during the evenings. FT joint students typically take 2-3 Booth classes + 1-2 MPCS classes. Some quarters the load can be intense, so if you decide to do FT and work at the same time, there is the chance that you may consider doing classwork during both summer quarters. Otherwise, you can join the PT (and still be eligible to take classes on the full time schedule from time to time).

Guest: If I am missing formal CS classes, can I take equivalent classes at a reputable university in the city I live in?

* Karin Czaplewski: If you do not have a solid background in programming, we strongly encourage you to take the CS Immersion classes. (https://masters.cs.uchicago.edu/page/cs-immersion-program) If you take classes outside our immersion program then you must successfully pass the placement exams. (https://masters.cs.uchicago.edu/page/placement-exams)

Guest: How do students typically pace themselves through the Booth and MPCS curriculums? Do students typically take 1-2 classes in each program per quarter, or is it common to alternate quarters of focusing on the MBA with quarters focusing on the MPCS?

* Borja Sotomayor: Course planning in the joint degree is highly individual, with some students pacing themselves through both programs, and other students having a Booth-heavy first year and a CS-heavy second year. Students in the program can work with an academic advisor to develop a course plan that works for them and is aligned with their career goals.

Guest: What is the total time commitment compared to each program individually?

* Tran Le: You will need to take 14 classes in MBA program and 7 to 9 classes in CS program, and can finish both together within 2 years. Otherwise, if you do each program individual MBA will take 2 years and MPCS would generally take 9 to 12 months.

Guest: If we were passionate about data science/database/business intelligence, would this be an appropriate program?

* Juan Vasquez: Absolutely, yes! I am personally choosing all my coursework on those fields. For instance Data Science for Marketing and Big Data at Booth, Databases and Machine Learning at the MPCS department.

Guest: Can I apply to the joint MBA and MPCS program in October 2018, but pass the placement exams for MPCS in October 2019? Or am I required to pass the exams in 2018?

* Borja Sotomayor: Placement exams are taken once you are admitted to the program. Once admitted, you can take the placement exams at any time (you are not required to take them right after being admitted), but your choice of classes will be constrained until you've taken the placement exams (or elected to take the immersion classes instead of the placement exams).

Guest: Are other options, such as, a concentration in marketing analytics considered as STEM as well?

* Juan Vasquez: Not really. Although most of the classes at Booth are analytical in nature, they are not 'technically STEM', and therefore the concentrations don't allow you to opt for the STEM benefit. Only the joint-degree allows for the STEM benefit.

Guest: I understand the CS department accepts both the GRE and GMAT when applying (per the website). Are they both equally accepted or is there a preference for one test over the other?

* Molly Stoner: We will accept GRE or GMAT scores (either/or). Both exams are reviewed similarly and there is no disadvantage to submitting one over the other. We look at the quantitative section separately, not only the total score.

Guest: Is it possible to do the program part time while currently employed at a company?

* Molly Stoner: Students can complete the program either part-time or full-time, or a combination of the two. A full-time course load is three (3) classes per quarter. Part-time is 1-2 classes per quarter. Students can switch from part to full-time and vice-versa as their personal and professional obligations dictate.

Guest: Karin Czaplewski, I'd be very interested in that connection if possible. Please let me know what I can do on my end to make that happen. Thank you.

* Karin Czaplewski: Please use this link to connect a Joint MBA/MPCS student: https://apply.chicagobooth.edu/portal/studentvolunteer

Guest: What is the tuition cost for both immerse courses?

* Karin Czaplewski: Tuition is assessed on a per-course basis at the Chicago Booth rate for all courses for both degrees including the immersion courses.

Guest: If you are not accepted into the joint degree program in April can you re-apply during your first year at Booth?

* Molly Stoner: Yes, you can reapply next fall. You are eligible for the joint degree program as long as you have not completed more than 11 Booth classes.

Guest: Is there precedent for MBA/MPCS immersion students not only taking CS class but also doing research with Professors like Michael Franklin (https://cs.uchicago.edu/directory/michael-franklin/) and Ben Zhao (http://people.cs.uchicago.edu/~ravenben/)? Do MS students end up publishing papers?

* Borja Sotomayor: The MPCS is a professionally-oriented program and it does not incorporate an explicit research component. The MPCS does offer a Practicum program, open to all its students (including joint MBA/MS students), where students can work with faculty and staff on well-defined projects over the course of a quarter (https://masters.cs.uchicago.edu/page/practicum-program). Students who participate in this program have sometimes continued to work with faculty, and a few have co-authored papers with their Practicum advisors.

Please note that the Practicum program is a competitive program, where students must apply to participate and must be selected by faculty members, so we cannot guarantee that a student will be able to do a Practicum while they are in the program.

Guest: What is the total tuition cost for both programs?

* Karin Czaplewski: Tuition is assessed on a per-course basis at the Chicago Booth rate for all courses for both degrees.

Guest: Are there resources you recommend to get up to speed on discrete math and programming for those who do not have much experience?

* Borja Sotomayor: Students who do not have much experience should plan to take the immersion classes in the MPCS. If you are familiar with the material covered in the immersion classes, but simply have not seen the material in a while, we provide study guides for the exams here: https://masters.cs.uchicago.edu/page/placement-exam-study-materials

Guest: As a follow up to the question on pacing of the degrees, do any students take 3 years instead of 2 in order to take advantage of the electives in both programs and/or pursue 2 summer internships instead of just 1 prior to graduation?

* Molly Stoner: The pacing of the degree is flexible and you can take up to 5 years to complete both degrees.

Guest: When does OPT STEM starts? After the graduation of the MBA program?

* Karin Czaplewski: You must graduate from both programs during the same quarter. The OPT STEM extension can begin after the standard OPT timeframe.

Guest: Are the immersion classes taken prior to applying?

* Molly Stoner: No, the immersion classes are available to students only after they have been admitted to the MPCS.

Guest: Thank you for hosting this chat! Is there any disadvantage to applying in the fall and starting the immersion classes in the winter vs. applying now and starting in the summer?

* Molly Stoner: Students can only enroll in immersion classes after they have been admitted to the MPCS. You can take the immersion classes in the summer or winter quarters.

Guest: So if we know we want to enroll in the joint degree program, but do not have a strong CS background, can we apply with the promise we will take the immersion classes the summer session before we start? Or do we need to take that before we apply?

* Molly Stoner: Students can only enroll in immersion classes after they have been admitted to the MPCS. You would take the immersion classes in the summer or winter quarters.

Guest: Are CS courses part of the Booth bidding process or independent?

* Tran Le: They are independent. For CS program, you don't bid for classes but rank your top preferences and will often get your top choices. One advantage for this program is that even though you don't have to use any bid points for CS classes, completing CS classes will give you more bid points for Booth classes.

Guest: How is the Full-Time MBA experience impacted by the heavier workload of the CS program? Do you find yourself participating in fewer events/joining fewer organizations in the MBA community?

* Juan Vasquez: Not at all. If anything, I'm involved in more things than the average Booth student! I'd say that it's true that the average CS workload is higher than the average Booth workload, but the flexibility allows you to shape it in the way you want. Some of us decide to take harder classes at both Booth and MPCS, while some want to take a lighter workload. I truly believe it does not affect (that much) your experience at Booth whatsoever.

Guest: What do you like most about being at the University of Chicago? Of course, the MBA/MPCS is a unique degree, but what else makes UChicago a great place to be?

* Tran Le: Most students live in the same area / buildings downtown Chicago and that is the best part about my experience. It's very easy to have group work and hang out with your friends downtown. Additionally, UChicago has great career service and student professional clubs that help prepare for career planning, interview preparation, and networking. Second years are also great resources when first year practice mock interviews. Finally, I love how UChicago classes have a good blend of business strategy + data analysis, which is increasingly important given the rising trend of big data.

Guest: Do part-time MBA/MPCS students have the same career services resources as full-time MBA/MPCS students?

* Kim Ge: The Part-Time MBA program is usually an ideal program for candidates that want to stay in their career and study their MBA part-time. The Full-Time MBA program is usually ideal for those that want to pivot or change careers and study full-time; therefore, the career services aspect and resources are quite different because of the needs of both students and our employers.

Guest: If you don't have a strong technical background, will that affect your application for the program?

* Molly Stoner: About 30% of our students entering the MPCS do not have a technical background. They enter the program in our immersion classes. In this case, we look for a strong quantitative skills and professional experience to make a determination on your admission.

Guest: I already submitted my application to the MPCS joint degree program and just found out for Round 2 that I got into Booth. Should I update my MPCS application with that information?

* Molly Stoner: You should send an email to masters-admin@cs.uchicago.edu and we can update your application for you.

Guest: What kind of internship will the students take?

*Juan Vasquez: The internships option vary from student to student. You will have all the Booth career services resources at your disposal. I'm personally taking a Product Operations position at Google for this upcoming summer, but there are some other joint students joining industries such as Consulting, Entertainment, and so on.

Guest: What percentage of the students take the immersion classes?

* Karin Czaplewski: Approximately 30% of the MBA/MPCS students need to take the immersion courses.

Guest: Do you see many joint program students going into management consulting?

* Tran Le: Yes. There are some joint program students going into management consulting. However, the CS program will not help much with management consulting interviews, unless you focus on tech industry related consulting roles / projects.

Guest: It seems that the deadlines for both Booth MBA and the MPCS are different. Do I have to mention anywhere in the applications that I am applying to both programs?

* Karin Czaplewski: There is a question on the MPCS application, which asks if you are a Booth student or a Booth applicant. On the MPCS Supplement page of your application, you are asked ‘If you are not admitted to the joint program, do you want to be considered for the MPCS program?". If you select "yes" and you are not admitted to the MBA program, we will still consider your application for the MPCS only.

Guest: What are you looking for in the MPCS application? For example, the question on "project that you are most proud of," what specific qualities or emphasis should I mention?

* Molly Stoner: We are looking for a professional or academic project that speaks to your quantitative, technical, or professional abilities.

Guest: Do I understand correctly that the Immerse courses can be taken in summer 2019? Or one immerse course is in winter, while the other is in summer?

* Molly Stoner: You can take the immersion courses in either the winter or summer quarters, however, many MBA students have internships outside of Chicago in the summer, after their first year, so summer classes are not possible.

Guest: What percentage of students in this program have a financial background (bank, consulting etc.).

* Juan Vasquez: I don't believe I have statistics for that, but I would say there's people coming from so many different backgrounds (there was even a person with a philosophy undergrad degree). What really matters is what are you trying to do post-MBA/MPCS: if you believe any of your future positions require technical knowledge, or interface with technical people, or even if you just like CS, then the joint degree is definitely a great option.

Guest: Could you please share the syllabus of the two immersion classes? I would like to check if I have already covered those topics.

* Molly Stoner: We have all the information on our website, under CS Immersion Program: https://masters.cs.uchicago.edu/page/cs-immersion-program
The Concepts of Programming class can be found here: http://people.cs.uchicago.edu/~adamshaw/mpcs50101-2017/
The Discrete Math class can be found here: https://masters.cs.uchicago.edu/page/math-computer-sciencempcs-50103
We publish detailed information on the placement exams, including sample exams here: https://masters.cs.uchicago.edu/page/placement-exam-study-materials


Guest: I am a co-owner and CEO of an internet platform business. I have a background in economics and a very poor understanding of the technical side of the business. Do you think that joint MBA/MPCS program is suitable for me and can fill my gaps in that area?

* Juan Vasquez: Most definitely! The program is tailored to give you both the business side, as well as the technical side, required to succeed in the current state of the industries.
Guest: I am interested in business analytics for consulting work at a professional firm. Is it better to pursue this joint-degree program rather than MBA only?
* Tran Le: The MBA program also has some analytics and data-driven classes, so if you pursue an MBA only, you can still follow business analytics for consulting. However, if you have more in depth knowledge and still keep want to keep the door open, for a future move into the tech industry, the joint degree will be better.