In the unlikely case you haven’t heard, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is well underway. This is the digital revolution—and, according to Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chair of the World Economic Forum, “When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.”

The speed at which technologic innovation is driving change is unprecedented—and the pace of evolution in this realm is unlikely to flag. As one breakthrough leads to another, and as our world becomes more reliant on digital technology, the demand for skilled talent in computer science and information technology occupations is soaring. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook reveals that through 2029, employment in these general areas will grow by 11 percent—over half a million jobs—which is much faster than the average for all other occupations. More specified roles, such as information security analyst, will see employment grow by over 30 percent. If you want to be a part of this revolution, the first step is to prepare yourself with the skills you need.

As you research your education options, you will see a proliferation of boot camps—short, intensive training workshops in areas such as data science, software development, coding, cybersecurity, and other popular areas of IT. While there are some perks to these—they are short and relatively inexpensive—obtaining a master’s degree in computer science is likely to lead to a more rewarding ROI. After all, the set of skills you develop in a challenging and rigorous graduate degree program will give you the versatility to adapt and change with the progress of technology. A boot camp might prepare you for one trend, but will those skills be enough to build a solid career in computer science?

“There is a big difference between training and education,” says Dr. Lou Chitkushev, associate dean and associate professor of computer science at Boston University’s Metropolitan College (MET). “Those in the business of education should not go after tools, but after concepts. You cannot sell information to students; it is everywhere. You have to teach them how to learn.”

The MS in Computer Science at BU MET

With the Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) at BU’s Metropolitan College, you earn your degree from an institution with deep industry ties and a stalwart regional reputation, mastering the foundations of applied computing in as few as 18 months (full time) or 24 months (part time). In addition, the BU MET’s Computer Science master’s degree program offers three concentration options for those seeking to hone specific skill-sets: Computer Networks, Data Analytics, or Security.

Historically, the BU MET Department of Computer Science is well established. Founded in 1979, it was the first computer science department at Boston University. Today, it is a major player within BU in its own right, with particular strengths in cybersecurity, applied data analytics, IT project management, software development, computer networks, and other high-impact areas. The department hosts the Mobile Computing & Security Lab, the Health Informatics Lab, and career-boosting resources such as a job board and TECH Talks, networking events that give students an opportunity to hear from employers and industry experts on current trends, challenges, research, and employment opportunities.

Computer Science Concepts You Can Apply to Your Career

The true draw of a master’s in computer science from Boston University’s Metropolitan College is its focus on giving you practical, hands-on skills that readily translate into competitive advantages on the job, or in the search for a new career. By balancing a foundation in engineering know-how, mathematical certainty, and process-based analysis with the critical framework of ideas, concepts, and methods that drive innovation, BU MET’s MS in Computer Science develops the resilient expertise you need to command positions at the cutting edge of this ever-evolving profession. BU MET Computer Science master’s degree students learn what it takes to succeed in the fields of data analytics, software development, networks, IT security, electronic health records, and health informatics, and have gone on to illustrious careers everywhere from Boeing to Bose, in roles that range from the C-suite—as CIOs or CEOs—to the universally essential work of web programmers or front-end developers.

Students in the department benefit from intricate, longstanding networks with the Massachusetts technology sector as well as the extraordinary resources of a major global research university, with assets such as the BU Center for Reliable Information Systems & Cyber Security (RISCS), the Build Lab, and the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences and Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering. BU’s career support includes the Center for Career Development and BU Connects, among other services.

“Employers know about our program,” asserts Dr. Anatoly Temkin, chair of the BU MET Department of Computer Science. “We do a fabulous job to prepare students for the challenges that are out there—when it comes to finding jobs, changing jobs, or moving to better positions within their companies.”

A Computer Science Master’s with Symbiotic Benefits in the Job Market

The BU MET Computer Science department enjoys a tradition of collaborative mentorship that extends beyond the classroom to firms such as Liberty Mutual, Oracle, and Deloitte Consulting. Much of that is built upon the graduate research assistantship opportunities that students in the BU MET Computer Science program can take advantage of, which translate into skills that the most prestigious employers actively seek out.

“I tell our students that once you start looking for jobs, all your colleagues or competitors will have taken, more or less, the same courses,” says Dr. Chitkushev. “The difference will be the research projects, the area you can talk about. That will be the differentiator for you. That can get you a job.”

For places like Amazon, Sunlife Financial, or Sanofi Genzyme—all of which have ties to computer science at BU MET—it’s not enough to take core courses in the Master of Science in Computer Science like Software Engineering (MET CS 673) and Computer Language Theory (MET CS 662). Rather, it’s by demonstrating the capacity to apply those principles and provide meaningful solutions that students burnish their credentials. “You have to focus on specific projects that are applied and current,” Chitkushev says.

Students in the MS in Computer Science program at BU MET benefit from studying with, and assisting, full-time research faculty. But they also have the advantage of learning from part-time faculty who traditionally work in the profession. This industry connection is key to the symbiotic relationship between BU MET’s master’s degree in computer science and the employers seeking fresh graduates to recruit.

“I have faculty who teach only so they can be exposed to students and to recruit students for their companies,” says Dr. Chitkushev, associate dean and associate professor of computer science. “Without connection with students, one cannot be involved in research, especially in computer science. You cannot do research without graduate students.”

Profiles of Success in Computer Science

Software Development Engineer

Tianren Li (MET’20)
Software Development Engineer, Amazon

One graduate student who capitalized on the associations available to him was Tianren Li (MET’20). While pursuing his MS in Computer Science at BU MET, Li secured a position as research assistant to Assistant Professor Yuting Zhang, which opened the doors to collaboration on an Android application, an internship, and a role at Amazon.

Though Li came to BU with an educational background in accounting and computational finance, his interests had changed. “It was impressed upon me that computer science plays an essential role in the finance industry, and that technology has profoundly changed the financial markets,” Li says. “After realizing that, MET’s MSCS program gave me the opportunity to switch my path and build a solid foundation for my career.”

He also knew that being at BU MET would bring valuable work opportunities.

“I appreciate a lot of things the MSCS program provided me with, which helped me secure an internship last summer at Google before I landed my full-time job at Amazon,” asserts Lee. “I learned many useful data structures and algorithms in Analysis of Algorithms (MET CS 566), which are critical for solving coding problems—both in job interviews and daily work. Software Design and Patterns (MET CS 665) was another course that proved important, as I learned not only how to code, but also how to code in a flexible and reusable way.”

With Dr. Zhang, Li studied Operating Systems (MET CS 575) and Mobile Application Development with Android (MET CS 683).

“Whenever students had questions, she was ready to help us, and she gave great feedback on homework each week,” says Li. “I was also her research assistant and helped develop an Android application that evaluates patients with social isolation. I learned a lot about Android development from her, which helped pave the way for my summer internship at Google.”

It wasn’t long before that high-impact internship led Lin to a full-time opportunity at Amazon—one of the globe’s most preeminent ecommerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence companies—where he is a software development engineer.

“I’ll always be grateful for all the advice and guidance Dr. Zhang provided me, in my studies and my career,” Li says.

App Developer

Amal Radhakrishnan (MET’19)
Cofounder and CEO, Parkaze

When Amal Radhakrishnan (MET’19) came to the US for his Master of Science in Computer Science with concentration in Data Analytics, he prized the flexibility of evening classes and the ability to curate his own education with electives such as Advanced Machine Learning and Neural Networks (MET CS 767), taught by Associate Professor Eric Braude.

That course, which Radhakrishnan took during his final semester at BU MET, included a project that sparked an interest in mobility—a passion that would lead to a role as Dr. Braude’s teaching assistant in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (MET CS 664), and also turn into an unexpected opportunity.

During his last semester in the Computer Science master’s program, Radhakrishnan and two friends decided to enter the 2018 BostonHacks competition at Boston University. For their project, they focused on solving a problem many have faced, especially in Boston: finding a parking spot.

“All three of us had experienced parking-related issues one way or another during our stay in Boston,” explains Radhakrishnan. BostonHacks was a chance to see what they could do with their machine learning and AI knowledge.

“That was when we came up with Parkaze, which operates similarly to AirBnb, allowing people to rent out their privately owned parking spaces,” says Radhakrishnan. The program went on to win in three categories, including the BU Spark! Innovation Fellowship. As of February 2020, the company was growing quickly. “We currently have 200 parking spaces in 35 locations in the greater Boston area and 40 hosts that rent out their parking spaces,” Radhakrishnan says. “We will be growing as fast as we can over the next couple of months.”

Today, Radhakrishnan is CEO of Parkaze, Inc., the company he cofounded with a vision to create new economic opportunities for the community by driving the growth of sustainable, smarter cities. And while starting a new company has its challenges, Radhakrishnan notes that there are also lot of opportunities to be had at BU, such as the BU! Spark program. “If you are committed to the idea, Boston University and Metropolitan College offer substantial resources,” he says. “There’s the BU/MIT Law Clinic and BUild Lab, there are professors that will support you, and other fellow entrepreneurs within the BUild Lab that are ready and willing to help.”

Mobile App Specialist

Tara Adams (MET’19, ENG’15)
Technical Specialist, Mobile Apps at Google

The path that led Tara Adams from a career at Paytronix Systems in the Boston area to a new role at Google in New York City passed through Metropolitan College via the master’s in Computer Science. Holding a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from BU’s College of Engineering, she was compelled to return to school after participating in a healthcare-themed hackathon.

“Being on that team and seeing what other teams at the hackathon were working on really inspired me and showed me how software development and computer science could be front and center in making an impact in industries like healthcare,” says Adams. “My long-term objective is to continue working in the technology industry and continue with roles that put me at the crossroads of people and technology.”

At BU MET, Adams began working on a project that had its roots in a tragic family event—her younger brother’s traumatic brain injury, which left him requiring home care and assistance getting in and out of bed. Undertaken with Professor Eric Braude in the course Advanced Machine Learning and Neural Networks (MET CS 767), the project involved leveraging deep learning techniques to determine if a person is trying to get out of bed, or is at risk of falling out of bed.

“The goal of this application would be to set up an alert system for a patient’s caregiver to help monitor the patient while the caregiver is not in the same room,” explains Adams. “I’ve learned that falls caused by everyday tasks, such as getting in and out of bed, are a leading cause of injury in older Americans. Because of this, I believe that it is crucial to use technology to transform home healthcare.”

According to Adams, the BU MET program is “well-rounded,” with professors who combine academic and industry experience. “I’d say that Professor Braude really enhanced my experience with the program in his Machine Learning course by incorporating plenty of examples of how machine learning techniques are being used in industry today into our class discussions,” says Adams. “I also thoroughly enjoyed being able to focus on a project of my own in the course, and the way that Professor Braude organized the deliverables really set me up for success. His instruction took me from a place where ‘machine learning’ and ‘AI’ felt like trendy industry terms I only heard thrown around in meetings to actual skills and techniques that I’ve been able to employ in my work and projects.”

Data Engineer

Priti Agrawal (MET’19)
Data Engineer, Bose Corporation

“My passion for further broadening my knowledge in the data field encouraged me to pursue a master’s in computer science with a focus on data analytics,” says Priti Agrawal. “It was bold, but the decision turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever made.”

Armed with an undergraduate degree and nine years of experience in the IT profession, Agrawal never thought she would go back to school—and could hardly have known that her studies at BU MET would lead to her “dream job.” However, energized by her goal of professional advancement in the field of data analytics—“the sole target destination for my purposes,” in her words—Agrawal excelled in BU MET’s Computer Science master’s program, driven by her strong sense of purpose and the support of family and friends, but also “sweat, determination, and hard work.”

“That blended well with the ultimate guidance I received from my professors at BU, especially Professor Eugene Pinsky, who energized and motivated me to be at my best, which allowed me to achieve such a prestigious level of success,” allows Agrawal, whose achievements were recognized with the award for Excellence in Graduate Studies in Computer Science during BU MET’s Convocation ceremony in 2019.

“One of my expectations for this program was that I would learn to unfold the untold truth about data, and Data Mining (MET CS 699), with Professor Jae Young Lee, was one course that really helped me to develop a strong base of understanding,” she explains. “Through data mining, I learned various machine learning algorithms and how to discover patterns and relationships in data in order to help make better decisions or predictions.”

Another course, Big Data Analytics (MET CS 777) with Professor Kia Teymourian, was instrumental in introducing Agrawal to the world of big data and large-scale data analytics. “This course taught me tools and techniques to store large-volumes of data, as well as the important mathematical and statistical models,” she says. “And I should mention—these two courses helped me to receive offers for my dream job!”

With her newly minted master’s in Computer Science from BU MET, Agrawal secured a role as data engineer at Bose. Agrawal reflects that she is well-positioned apply the skills she has learned in artificial intelligence and data analytics.

“Having been introduced to data science and machine learning techniques, as well as having learned to understand analytic concepts from data mining and visualization, I plan to research and solve some of the life-changing problems and attack the heaviest data challenges,” she vows.

Data Scientist

Kenneth Lu (MET’19)
Data Scientist, Charles River Analytics (CRA)

“I want to find ways in which we can use methods from theoretical mathematics to produce better software,” says Kenneth Lu, a 2019 graduate of BU MET’s MS in Computer Science program. “We’ve seen this already as people have applied techniques from abstract algebra to create functional programming languages, but I (like many others) believe that there is much more to do and improve upon in bridging this gap.”

Originally hoping to pursue a PhD in mathematics, Lu found himself switching gears to earn his master’s in applied computer science. “My supervisor at Charles River Analytics encouraged me to pursue a Master of Science in Computer Science, explaining that it would not only grant me the skills I needed to further my career (and perhaps obtain a PhD down the road), but also that the company would reimburse my tuition,” says Lu. “That was too good an opportunity to pass up.”

With its convenient evening courses and location, BU MET became the obvious choice for Lu. “The program also offered a lot of relevant classes in areas that I didn’t have any experience with at the time, like Advanced Machine Learning and Neural Networks (MET CS 767), Computer Language Theory (MET CS 662), and Cryptography (MET CS 789).”

Lu is grateful to have worked closely with Dr. Madani Naidjate and Dr. Eric Braude during his computer science studies and master’s thesis. “Without doubt, these two faculty members warrant special praise for maximizing my learning—especially given the difficulty of teaching late into the evenings, in addition to their daytime responsibilities. The things they taught me were immediately and profoundly useful to my day-to-day work.”

Today, as a data scientist with CRA, Lu utilizes his understanding of programming languages, analysis theory, and machine learning to develop models to build fault-tolerant and adaptive software. “My company’s area of research involves building adaptive and resilient software for autonomous systems,” Lu elaborates. “Specifically, we are trying to make legacy code adapt to new hardware requirements, without needing a human engineer in the loop. This requires a system that utilizes program analysis techniques to transform and update source code, as well as binaries and machine learning to optimize its behavior based on environmental and operating context data.”

In his role as data scientist, he has also been involved in developing real-time hardware health prognostics. “This involves machine learning techniques that bridge the relationship between a hardware component’s current state (captured via sensors) and its future state, from which the ML model will then predict the hardware’s remaining life, or how much time is left until a motherboard or a chip breaks.”

Computer/Data Scientist

Trevor Ryan Michelson (CAS’15, MET’21)
Computer/Data Scientist, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Boston Healthcare System
Online Course Facilitator, Boston University’s Metropolitan College

Trevor Michelson veered away from pursuing a master’s in mathematics to tap into the growing need for computer scientists, especially in the realm of data science. He joined the Master of Science in Computer Science degree program at BU’s Metropolitan College, choosing the concentration in Data Analytics.

“Analyzing the landscape of both the mathematics and computer science fields made it clear that an advanced degree was necessary to compete in the ever-growing and competitive workforce,” says Michelson, who earned his bachelor’s from Boston University’s College of Arts & Sciences in 2015. “Originally, I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in mathematics, but given the growing need for computer science expertise, the MET program was the most appealing. It was also nice to continue my education at BU.”

Although managing priorities between a full-time job and graduate coursework meant his personal life “had to take a backseat now and again,” Michelson graduated from the program with flying colors, earning the Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies for Computer Science. “While balancing a job and a few courses per semester was certainly a challenge, the work ethic I developed to manage, prioritize, and focus on tasks was key to making sure I didn’t fall behind on either my work or studies,” he says. “Another huge part of my success is thanks to some of the professors I had at MET college. I’ve had the great pleasure of being taught by, and working with, many BU faculty in both my undergrad and graduate careers. MET college provided me genuinely compassionate and hardworking professors who took an active role in my development as a student and beyond.”

A prime example of this is Dr. Suresh Kalathur, an assistant professor of computer science and director of analytics programs at BU MET, who offered Michelson the opportunity to be a teaching assistant in Data Science with Python (MET CS 677) during his final semester. Michelson credits that position for improving his communication skills, as he worked with others in the class who were trying to learn advanced data science methods.

“Professor Kalathur also provided great guidance that helped build on the foundations of my studies, and his recommendation helped me find my spot with Veterans Affairs in Boston,” says Michelson, referring to the job he landed in 2021 as a computer scientist for the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The work is an opportunity to put his BU MET education to the test, as he employs acquired skills in machine learning, database management, and biostatistics. The position also involves collaboration with doctors, statisticians, and other computer scientists to help advance research, data science, and other projects to improve healthcare for veterans and others. “My studies at BU MET prepared me to apply my skills in various programming languages, statistical analysis tools, and database management to this exciting new career ahead of me.”

Michelson maintains his ties with BU MET, serving as an online course facilitator for Data Science with Python. “I continue to learn something new every day, which has made the discipline exciting, as it rarely gets stale,” says Michelson. “It doesn’t take long for a person in the computer science discipline to become engulfed in some article, academic study, or research paper that provides a new perspective or possibility that builds on, or alters, all their experience and work up to that point.”

Technology Executive

Steve Akers (MET’94)
Founder and President, MaxCogito, Inc.

Steve Akers is a believer in utilizing every available opportunity, to create even more.

“Take advantage of everything that is afforded you at a major research institution like BU,” recommends Akers, founder and president of the startup MaxCogito, Inc.

“If you go to MET, another added value is you get a BU degree, which is known all over the world.”

Akers earned his master’s in Computer Science from BU MET in 1994. Since then, he has cut his teeth in the Boston technology sector, utilizing his combination of IT and business skills to found and cofound several startups. These include Springtide Networks, which he cofounded in 1998 and which was eventually acquired by Lucent Technologies, where Akers continued as CTO of the wireline division. He founded Digital Reef, Inc., in 2002, serving as principal and CTO until its sale to Transperfect in 2012. Prior to his latest venture with MaxCogito, Akers was VP of compliance analytics and applications for Bloomberg LP’s Bvault business unit, where he applied his expertise in architecture, design, and scalability of the technologies required to support a substantial analytic environment. He was also CEO and president of Rivelando, LLC, a big data consulting and development company, and CTO and VP of architecture at Shiva Corporation, which was purchased by Intel.

Along the way, Akers has used his skills to participate in the process of defining internet security protocols, such as those involving IP security (IPSec), that provide secure VPN technology in many networking producs on the market today. His current venture, MaxCogito, supplies cloud services that provide insight, analysis, and control of communication data flowing through enterprise and financial networks, while ensuring that the data is secure and that privacy is maintained for employees, customers, and clients.

Akers, who was recognized with BU MET’s Distinguished Alumni Award for Computer Science in 2009, is currently serving as an executive in residence at Metropolitan College—a position which facilitates vital exchange between industry experts, faculty, and students.

“I’ve always stayed in connection with MET because I gained a lot from the experience of being able to have access to a major research university, and all the academic benefits of that, while I worked,” he says. In return, Akers has shared his experiences with the BU community. He was selected to be the MET Convocation speaker in 2011, and recently produced a micro course, “Blockchain: an elegant solution for open, secure public value exchange,” for BU MET.

In that course, Akers introduces the history, implementation, and use of blockchain technology—an interest that grew out of his experience in cryptography, networking, and scalable data analysis. “I wanted to give everyone a broad, conceptual understanding,” says Akers. “Within five years I think blockchain will be embedded in the systems of commerce we use, and it will be maintained by larger companies and well-capitalized institutions.” Watch the three-part lecture series on Blockchain.

A Living Network of IT Careers

As part of the effort to connect the community’s academic talent with professional opportunities, Metropolitan College and Boston University offer robust support for career networking and growth, as highlighted on BU MET’s Career Resources page. In addition, BU MET’s Department of Computer Science keeps an active job board, where you’ll find employers seeking talent for roles such as Health Information Technician, Python Robotics Instructor, Business Intelligence Engineer, and Analyst in Science and Technology, for example, along with listings for cybersecurity careers with the National Security Agency (NSA) and many other curated postings.

The Department of Computer Science at BU’s Metropolitan College capitalizes on its trusted connection to the Massachusetts tech sector to encourage employers to Hire BU MET CS Students and Alumni. Find out more at the BU Metropolitan College Department of Computer Science Career Connection page.

And of course, Boston University students benefit from the excellent career resources of a world-renowned research institution, with a global network of more than 300,000 living alumni—including more than 27,000 international graduates across more than 180 countries.

BU’s Center for Career Development is where BU students and alumni can access hands-on coaching from seasoned counselors, connect with online resources, and explore workshops and programs. From networking and résumé building to interviews and salary negotiations, the CCD offers insights and lessons to help you land an internship or a new job. You will find comprehensive career resources both for online students and those studying on campus, as well as connections to employers looking to recruit from the BU community. Students can also BU’s join Handshake, an online hub for exclusive career resources that includes regional, national, and international internships and job listings, a calendar of career-related events and programs, career counseling, and upcoming employer activities around campus.

Master’s and graduate certificate students at Boston University can also access CareerShift, a digital tool that enhances the job search experience. With CareerShift, it is easy to aggregate job databases, keep track of applications, and research prospective employers. You can store custom résumés and cover letters, schedule follow-up reminders, and organize all your correspondence with employers in one place.

BU Connects is a newly developed platform exclusively for BU alumni, students, faculty, and staff that brings Terriers together for personal and professional networking. There are also more than 44,000 members of the BU alumni LinkedIn group, allowing each to leverage the social media platform and unlock the full potential of the University’s worldwide community. In an industry that prizes innovation, imagination, and collaboration, there are few homes that can offer the same excellence and reach as Boston University’s Metropolitan College.