I have just been hired to work in the IT Division at a top 10 University in the U.S., and they said that I can take classes at the college.

Currently, I have a B.S. in computer science and a minor in mathematics. I'd like to do research in machine learning, and its application to computer security in graduate school. I have a very cool idea for a research topic, which appears that no one else has written papers on.

There are two caveats to this. One is I only have a 3.0 GPA, which is required for acceptance into graduate school. Second, the mathematics required for machine learning seems to go beyond what I learned for my math minor. Advanced statistical concepts, such as Hidden Markov Chains, which I've noticed is a topic covered in graduate level mathematics courses.

Should I go for a post-bacc in applied mathematics? Should I teach myself the advanced math topics, and try to raise my GPA by taking some higher level undergrad classes in Computer Science?

Any guidance or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

  • I guess it depends on how far along you currently are with the math that will be needed for your cool idea. Often math courses have to be taken sequentially. So probably the first course to take would be a math course that will get you closer to your goal of hidden Markov chains. // For many people, the easiest way to learn a topic is with the structure of a class. If they're going to waive tuition, then that would make a class more attractive still -- as long as the schedule is compatible with your work obligations. I would start with one course per semester, as – aparente001 Jun 10 '17 at 2:50
  • working full time can be more tiring than one might think. Another nice thing about the idea of taking classes while you're working there is that you'll be able to show improved grades. – aparente001 Jun 10 '17 at 2:51

Tough question, mostly because it seems it would have a lot to do with you and your overarching goals. Is the goal to advance your career or is your goal to get the Master's degree and write that paper and publish?

It's tempting because you have the free course option right in front of you but you can take classes in machine learning from Coursera (for instance), for not much more. So if your goal is simply to move your career ahead school is likely not required at all.

But if you want to teach and publish and get that piece of paper then absolutely you'll need more school. Take undergraduate courses and get that GPA up and then apply to grad school.

  • Yes, I want to do all those things. Are you saying I should go for post-bacc in math? or take undergraduate courses in cs? – Gary Drocella Jun 9 '17 at 19:12
  • So again my answer is "it depends" as this will vary from school to school and maybe even from department to department. Your school/department might even be willing to waive the GPA requirement taking into account that you are an employee -- or not. Ask in the dean or registrar's office. – Dave Kanter Jun 9 '17 at 20:43

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.