My Experience with Udacity Data Analyst Nano-degree

My Experience with Udacity Data Analyst Nano-degree

After spending most of my spare time in the past 8 months, I finally graduated from the Udacity Data Analyst Nano-Degree program! Before I started this program, I have spent many hours searching online for reviews and discussions about it. Now I would like to share my whole experience with the internet and hope it is helpful to someone like me. Since I have also taken other courses at and, I can make some direct comparisons which should be helpful too.

First, I would say it really requires a lot of time to finish the degree. I roughly spent 15 + hours each week on this program in the past 8 months. This maybe does not sound like a lot of time to you, but actually it is, especially if you have another full-time job. So don’t jump into it if you can’t afford the time. As for tuitions, I have paid $1,600 for the program but Udacity will refund half of it because I finished the program within 12 months and I paid all of my tuition out of my own pocket. I haven’t received the refund yet because Udacity told me it takes 4 – 8 weeks to process. Just don’t forget to submit a request for this refund – Udacity will not automatically refund it to you.

The 8 projects covered a wide range of aspects in the data science field, including statistics, Python programing, R programing, machine learning, and D3.js data visualization. The  Python and R programing focused on data manipulation, wrangling, and visualization. The machine learning course is really condensed and does not go deep in algorithms and theories, compared to other machine learning courses. Overall, this nano-degree really focuses on the analysis skills such as process data and find interesting stories. If you want to be a data scientist instead of data analyst, this nano-degree is probably not the best choice for you.

There are many things I really liked about this program. First, Udacity has an amazing ‘customer support’ team. The coaches provide 1-0n-1 help sessions. Of course these coaching sessions need to be reserved first, which is fairly easy to do. Each help session is scheduled to be 20 minutes long, but a coach once chatted with me for more than an hour, until I really solved the problem. I only used online text chatting but it seems the coaches are open to other communication methods such as video-chatting or phone call as well. In addition, the discussion forum is a good resource that helped me finishing all the projects. The coaches reply to questions VERY quickly, usually in 30 min or less. And they are always very patient! The coaches also review the project submission in great details, give constructive feedbacks, and encourage the students all the time. I think this coaching team is the factor that makes this nano-degree program stand out, compared to other MOOC courses or specializations.

However, I believe this program still has some room for improvement. My biggest frustrations came from the course videos. Maybe it is because Udacity only consider the course videos as supporting materials, or maybe it is because the course are taught by mentors from the industry, I felt that the course videos are nothing like a real class. For a substantial amount of portion, the videos are just two or more mentors talking. The course videos did not really help me too much in finishing my projects.  I like the course videos on much better because they are better organized and the contents are taught systematically. That is not the case with Udacity courses, at least for the data analyst nano-degree.

Another question people care about this program is that if it really help the students finding a job. Well, I can’t tell because I am just me, one sample, and there is not even a control sample. But at least the program gave me something to talk about data analysis during my interviews, so I would say, yes, it is useful.

Please feel free to comment below if you would like to take the program, are in the middle of the program, or have graduated. I’d be happy to answer any questions about this Udacity Data Analyst Nano-degree.

20 thoughts on “My Experience with Udacity Data Analyst Nano-degree

  1. Hi, I am not familiar with python at all but have a little idea in Java. Will that be enough to take up the course for data analyst nanodegree? And I am working full time… so how long will it take to complete the course approximately ?

  2. Hi Shushi2000,

    Rather than a data analyst, i want to be a data scientist. What other resources beside Udacity ( which i plan to use in my pursuit) can you suggest me , over the top of your head?

    1. Hi Bill,

      There are some overlapping job duties for these two different titles, as I understand. Generally speaking, a ‘data scientist’ might have to use more machine learning skills than a ‘data analyst’. So, in addition to Udacity, I would like to recommend Andres Ng’s Machine Learning course on Coursera. If you are interested in Deep Learning, is definitely a wonderful resource for you to check out.

      Good luck!

  3. Hi, I am interested in the Nanodegress and the Nanodegree plus. Will be paying on my own to help find a job in Northern CA (Sacramento) area. Worth paying the extra $100 a month?

    1. Hello,

      Have you started your process? I am also in Sacramento and considering taking the Udacity Nano degree which I am hoping to transfer to Western Governors University. I would like to know how your process went.

    2. Hi Godzilla, Sorry I just saw your comment. I haven’t used the Nanodegree Plus so it’s really hard for me to comment on it. However, in my Nanodegree program, Udacity provided several networking opportunities which really benefits students who want to find a job in the Bay Area. Not so sure about Sacramento, CA though. Let us know how you think if you have started the Nanodegree Plus program 🙂

  4. I am a graduate with no prior programming experience but interested in data analysis.Can I survive in completing the projects as most of it is programming ??

    1. Hi Anurag, you can take basic programming courses on Udacity for free, they should prepare you for the data analyst nanodegree. Overall, you should be comfortable with some programming in Python prior to the course, but mostly the basics like functions, classes, loops, and familiarity with object types and oprations on them will suffice.

  5. Hi Shushi ,

    Thanks for writing down your experience
    Do you think the degree is a good start toward being a data scientist, As well i am planing to take some free courses first before dive in in the project , would this save me time and money
    My last question what other courses (in coursera or edx) you feel it would be necessary to study them with the nanodgree

    1. Hi Mohamed,

      Taking some other free courses first would help saving some time (and money) for sure. That way, you can directly dive into some of the Nano-degree projects without watching the course video, if you really want to… However, I think the Nano-degree course videos are worth the time to watch.

      For other courses, I highly recommend the Ng Machine Learning course and JHU’s R programming course on Links are here:

      Best, Shi

  6. Does this course has any min time to complete,I’m having holidays and I want to spend as much time as possible.can I complete this course within 2 to 3 months,is it possible?

    1. Hi Naveen,
      Yes that’s possible. I’ve heard that one or two of my friends did finish it in 3 months. Good luck!
      Best, Shi

    2. You make a great point about extatpecions. I think there are definitely places we build up in our minds with a lot of preconceived ideas – either negative or positive. Even if we know on an intellectual level that we harbour stereotypes, it doesn’t make it any easier when those illusions are shattered. It’s a jarring experience.

    1. Hi,
      They do a couple of things to help you to find a data analyst job:

      1. Reviewing and polishing your resume and LinkedIn profile (with great advise and to the very details)
      2. Mocking interview
      3. Networking (with mostly companies in the Bay area)

      But nothing is guaranteed.

      Are you taking the course now?

      Best, Shi

  7. Hi, thanks for taking the time to write about your experience.
    You say it took you 15hrs/wk for 8 mos. do you have prior background in
    programming ? where was the biggest time spent in ? is it coding/debugging and learning the python tools like scikit etc.? did it give you a good conceptual foundation in
    data science techniques
    also, is Python the main language used (i.e. do you have to learn other languages from scratch ?

    1. Hi Jay,
      I had a little prior background in programming, mostly because I use R in my research job to deal with data. There are plenty of new things to learn for me, for example, machine learning, Python language, MongoDB, D3.js, etc., and that’s where I spent most of my time. Also finishing each project usually takes a few rounds of submission and review, that took some time too.

      Scikit is part of one project.

      Python and R are the two languages used. No other language needed for this course.

      I would say overall the course covered a wide range of data science techniques and provided a very good foundation for my future career.

      Best, Shi

  8. Hi, I’m interested in the course and found your comments via Google search. Please keep updating your experience, I’m sure it will help me and other like-minded people.

    1. Hi Yas, thanks for your nice comments! Please feel free to let me know if you have any specific questions about the course.

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