Learning never stops. At SMU, we want to help you fulfill all your educational and career goals. Our programs go in-depth in your fields of study to ensure you learn what you need to know to thrive in your education and in your career.
For Nicole Ng, earning an M.S in Applied Statistics and Data Analytics at SMU gave her an extensive background in research as she navigated applying to medical school. Unique classes and dedicated professors grew Nicole's knowledge in specialized skills she would need to do medical research as she furthered her medical education.
Keep reading to learn more about the nontraditional path Nicole took as well as the distinctive features of the program that made SMU the right choice for Nicole.
What initially got you interested in Applied Statistics and Data Analytics as a field of study?
I’m an international student from Malaysia. I graduated from SMU as an undergraduate and double majored in Biochemistry and Statistical Science. After my undergraduate years, I worked at UTSouthwestern in a Neurosurgery Lab as a researcher and clinical data specialist for three years. My goal was to gain research experience to apply for medical school.
During this period of time, I have learned to love data analytics and saw its importance in its application in the area of medical research. There is also a demand for medical researchers that know statistics as well as data analytics. That was when I decided to pursue a MASDA degree while waiting to get into medical school. I will be starting medical school in the fall semester and hope to complete my MASDA degree program alongside medical school.
Did you encounter any hesitations, obstacles or fears about pursuing a Master's in Applied Statistics and Data Analytics?
There was a three year gap in between my undergraduate years and starting the MASDA program. I was concerned that it would take me a while to get used to the study routines.
Why did you choose the MASDA degree program at SMU?
I decided to choose SMU because it was my alma mater and I had great experiences with my statistics professors! I love the small class setting which allows me to know all my classmates and professors. This also fosters a collaborative environment.
What resources do you feel set SMU apart from other Applied Statistics and Data Analytics Master's programs?
SMU’s MASDA program has many important classes that will help students transition into their future careers. For example: two semesters of Mathematical Statistics (which many colleges do not offer), which is necessary to know what actually goes on behind when you are conducting data analysis.
What experience are you most proud of from your years in graduate school?
The MASDA program also has two semesters of Experimental Statistics which covers in-depth many machine learning and statistical tests that students will encounter in their future careers as a data analyst. I am extremely excited that I have been able to conduct data analytic reports using different programming languages: R, SAS, Python.
Who's one professor who has impacted you during your Master's program?
Dr. Robertson is a really great professor who loves what he does! He was my Introduction to Statistics professor back in undergraduate. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t even know about the program. He knows about my trajectory and has been very encouraging in helping me get to where I want to be. He is also extremely attentive to all the students and makes sure everyone is settling well.
What are your career dreams or plans? How has the MASDA degree program at SMU helped prepare you for your future?
I hope to be a physician researcher in the future. Data science has become prominent in the area of medical research. I hope to be able to gain more skills and knowledge in this area to become a more well-rounded physician researcher through gaining a MD/Master’s degree. In the course of two semesters, my knowledge of data analytics has increased tremendously and I have SMU’s MASDA degree program to thank for it.
Why do you think Applied Statistics and Data Analytics is an important and valuable field to study?
It enables individuals to make data-driven decisions that can lead to better outcomes, improved efficiency, and increased profitability in various industries and applications. In today's world, data analytics is used in many areas such as business, healthcare, finance, marketing, social media, sports etc.
How can prospective MASDA students best prepare to begin and thrive in their master’s program?
Don’t be afraid of asking your professors and classmates for help! If you’re struggling, most likely your classmates are also facing the same issue. I realized that a collaborative learning environment has helped me thrive in the master’s program.
Is there any advice or wisdom you would pass along to a prospective student?
One thing that I love about SMU’s MASDA program is that you’ll get to meet students from diverse and unique backgrounds. There’s so much to learn from everyone in the student body. Some students also had previous working experiences which contributed different perspectives in the area of data analytics. So don’t worry if you’ve never had any experiences in this field, SMU’s MASDA program takes that into account and starts from the basics.
Our programs at SMU are designed to provide you with a comprehensive education at any point in your educational or professional path. SMU's classes, faculty and staff, and close student community support each individual student in reaching their personal life goals. If you want an education made to get you where you want to go, consider coming to SMU for the next step of your journey.
Discover the MS in Applied Statistics and Data Analytics
for yourself by downloading the guide:
How to Become a Data Analyst in Less Than Two Years