For some of us, graduate school is something that honestly hasn’t been given much thought at all, while for others it may frequent our mind more often, and then there are those of us that just wonder what graduate school is all about. As it turns out, we can look no further than DSU which offers a variety of post graduate studies in the realms of technology, science, and business. I spoke with two graduate students currently studying here at DSU to find out more about our graduate program as well as their opinions of it, and ended up learning quite a bit.
I first spoke with Eric Holm who is currently finishing up his final semester here at DSU. With his Master of Science in Information Assurance (MSIA) degree, Holm plans on a career where he can “help secure companies’ networks and protect their customers’ data.” Holm studied at DSU as an undergraduate as well and received the Cyber Corps scholarship which pays for his graduate studies. Though having his studies paid for was a deciding factor to stay, Holm “likely would have chosen DSU” for furthering his education anyways. He explained that this was due to our university’s focus on cyber security, the size of the campus/classes, and the NSA designations provided with the MSIA program. I also asked Holm the differences between his time as an undergraduate and his graduate program. He explained that the classes are even smaller than our undergraduate classes at DSU, yet with “a much greater diversity of backgrounds.” There are students “in their 40’s making career changes, others that have been in industry coming back to school to learn more, and then students like myself that came straight out of the undergrad programs.” He also explained that everyone in the program seems to be much more dedicated to their studies. All and all, Holm has greatly enjoyed his time at DSU and especially recommends our graduate program to all who are interested in getting a career in the cyber security field.
I then spoke with Ali Ahmed who has around two more years in his program before he receives his Doctorate of Science (D.Sc.) in Information Systems. Ahmed explained that he had originally planned on being a high school teacher, but decided he wanted to take his studies a step further and become a college professor or researcher after receiving his doctorate. Ahmed is an international student who came to DSU specifically for the graduate program. He explained that he chose DSU because of our D.Sc. program itself which “is highly technical in nature” and “provides strong knowledge of technical and practical skills” as well as our faculty. Ahmed said he “talked to a few faculty members before coming to DSU, their support and help made my decision easier” as well as found the graduate office to be very supportive. “They encourage and help students to succeed by providing them financial, motivational, and emotional support.” Along with his program, Ahmed also has an assistantship with Dr. Ashley Podhradsky in which he does a variety of projects, including literature reviews, data gathering, and presenting research. If qualified, graduate students at DSU can take an assistantship like this, both as a way to reduce tuition costs, as well as perform and learn skills associated with careers in their field. When asked about the differences between his undergraduate and graduate studies, Ahmed said that being a grad student requires more maturity than that of an undergrad, “no one comes after you if you miss a deadline. So you have to set your own, and keep yourself on track.” Although the rules are a bit stricter for international students such as a required full course load every semester and no more than one online class, Ahmed said that he recommends the graduate program to both international and US students. He explained that this is because the graduate program does a great job of providing the hands-on and technical skills needed in the field, and the faculty members working in the program are all highly experienced and skilled in what they do. Ahmed also added that the “faculty will reach out to you, to help you if you are struggling and shy to ask for a help,” and that “the grad office provides generous financial support to its students.” In short, said Ahmed, “DSU’s grad program is the best!”
So as it turns at, the life of a graduate student may not be as foreign and daunting as many of us assume it to, be as long as you know how to stay dedicated and on track. In fact, the experience is even more personable and focused on the specifics of a field than undergraduate studies. With such positive feedback from both Holm and Ahmed, it also seems safe to say that although DSU may not provide graduate programs for every field, the ones that are provided are definitely worth going into. Much like our undergraduate programs, this seems to be because of the friendly, helpful faculty, the hands on experiences that come with a small campus and classes, and being around others as dedicated to success in a certain field as you are.