I need to pick a focus in my Masters program.
The running candidates are

  • Networking
  • Bioinformatics
  • Data mining
  • Computer Image Recognition

In order to avoid this becoming a discussion, I'd be interested in specific data about the type of research done in these fields, or anecdotal experience on why one particular field is more valuable than the others.

For purposes of the question I find all options equally interesting and the Masters program is out of NJIT

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The best way to discover is to read yourself and then decide the best path for yourself. No one else can choose the path for you. If you need overview, you can read pages from books or Wikipedia. In case you are more interested, please browse though the journals and conference proceedings. $\endgroup$ – aghost Jun 12 '14 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ I think you should do bioinformatics. True, I don't know you, but I know you as much as the next person on this list does. The reason I say bioinformatics is that I'd like to find time to learn more about bioinformatics. It sounds really interesting to me, and it didn't really exist back in the day when I did my masters. So if I could decide for you, that's what I'd pick. ..... But you need to choose your own way, grasshopper. $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke Jun 12 '14 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ This is far too subjective for this site. I would try reddit.com/r/compsci $\endgroup$ – jmite Jun 12 '14 at 20:01

My response does not provide exact data that you are looking for, but I am going to suggest a few sources from where you can capture the data.

Firstly, if you have some time to choose between those fields, take a course in each if possible and see for yourself whether you actually enjoy or not. I have had cases where I thought I was excited about a subject, started a course and then hated it. These days, you can take a week's worth of course on sites like coursera in each of these fields and see where they stand in your opinion. Of course, instructor and format matters significantly, but you'll still get an idea of what you're going to get into. Getting a hands on 'mini course' will probably give you enough data that you might just be able to decide immediately.

Other than that, it might be worthwhile trying to discover both the research world and the professional world in these fields. For research world, one of my advisors in my MA (non-CS) program advised me to just browse through the journals that were published recently and see what questions were being asked and what questions were being answered. From that list, he suggested, that I should try to evaluate what peeks my interest. I found his advice valuable and hence passing on. This is especially useful when you would do your own research because you would be trying to fit in one of those communities (in fact, he gave me this advise for me to figure out how to go about my MA thesis).

For the professional world, it's a bit harder because the world is not as much consistent as the research world (at least in my experience). However, a few sources often help: look at the job openings in each of those fields and ask the question if any of those will be interesting, and you would want to do that kind of work. Take away all the "fancy" perks and adjective to lure us into those jobs and focus on what your responsibilities will be :-) Other than that, professional magazines help too.

Also look at your core skills as well as where you get your "energy" from? Do you love to teach and write papers? Or do you like to discuss issues and write code? Do you want to get a Masters degree and end there, or are you planning to go for a PhD or an MBA?

All of these will matter. For me, it also matters what my impact for a given project will be (whether a paper or working on a product/service).

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for helping to clairify - examples of professtional roles in those fields would be a good measure for me $\endgroup$ – Dan O'Boyle Jun 12 '14 at 19:55

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