Big data degrees? Oh puh-lease


Given that the majority of job openings are in tech related fields in the midst of the slowest economic recovery ever, and also given that big data is the big kahuna in tech, it's natural for job hungry people to lunge for a degree in big data. And wherever there is a hungry lunge, equally hungry universities will be there to net the lungers.

But seriously, a degree in big data? Oh puh-lease. That's a joke right?

Let's just take a step back for a moment and really look at that, shall we?

What could be taught in a big data degree program?

Analytics? Yeah, those are going to change a whole lot before you graduate. Congratulations, you are now equipped to do the work that existed two years ago. Not so much for the work that exists now.

Data storage? Oops, that's changing too. Teradata is about the only pure-play data warehouser left. Maybe they'll have a job for you when you graduate. Or maybe everything will have moved in-memory by then. Can you say Spark? Yeah, that comes after Hadoop. If you haven't heard about that yet, check out my post on Spark.  Not that Hadoop can't be outfitted with in-memory storage too, but that's fodder for another post.

Data interpretation? Well, ok, you can learn something here that will stick to a job posting on a college board. But those courses should be in logic, critical thinking, behavioral economics, cognitive science, and a slew of other skills and disciplines not called big data.You see, big data is, well, just data. It's just not degree material.

College degrees are essential to getting a job anywhere doing anything these days. Pick a program that teaches you skills that you can build on; that are flexible enough to apply to many different jobs because technologies change, you know; and choose one that you can use immediately upon graduating.

A data scientist degree makes sense, as does one in computer engineering and software engineering. On the softer side of big data, a degree in behavioral economics, marketing or in cognitive science makes sense. A big data degree does not. Especially since the word "big" will be dropped entirely very soon. Then what are you going to say? I have a degree in data? Huh? What is that exactly?

But those are my thoughts on the matter. For an opposing view, take a look at the article in Forbes.

For more information:
- see the Urban Dictionary for the definition of puh-lease
- see the Forbes article

Related Articles:
Will Spark burn Hadoop?
Spotlight: Trailblazing economist uses big data to reshape future of web
Coming soon: Data convergence, common data pools and data dredging vendors