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‘The Graduation Ceremony Was the First Time We Saw Each Other’: 2023 MASNA Graduates Celebrate in Person

‘The Graduation Ceremony Was the First Time We Saw Each Other’: 2023 MASNA Graduates Celebrate in Person

© HSE University

On July 3, the HSE University building on Pokrovka hosted the graduation ceremony of the Master’s in Applied Statistics with Network Analysis (MASNA). The programme, which trains students to use modern approaches in data and network analysis, is taught fully online in English. We spoke to Jiaxuan Wang, Sergio Camposortega, and Iris Cilenšek, three international students who came to Moscow for the graduation ceremony. The recent graduates shared their thoughts about the online format and finally meeting their classmates in person.

Jiaxuan Wang, China

I am a 24 year-old student from Beijing, China. I also work at Volkswagen China. Just a few days ago, I graduated from HSE University’s MASNA programme.

I first got to know HSE University while on an exchange at SPBU. I heard that HSE is a top-tier and unique university.

You come here not just for the diploma—the most important part is that you are actually learning useful things

MASNA gives you the opportunity to gain new and relevant knowledge. Also, Russia has a great reputation in terms of math, and MASNA is about math, so I believed that this programme would give me what I wanted.

I have to admit that studying on the MASNA programme at HSE was intense and difficult. You have 120 credits and tons of classes to finish within two years. Our courses ranged from the basics of statistics and probability theory to network and graph theory. There were also practical courses like programming in python, R, modelling in Excel, data mining and ML courses and so on.

For someone like me who doesn’t have a statistical background, it was hard at the beginning. It took me a year to catch up with my peers (while also working during the day). I especially loved Stanislav Pashkov’s courses. He always gave one or two classes about the super basic and underlying logic of the course or the methodology, which gives you every opportunity to explore the field.

I have been in several different teams over the two years of study, so I got to know all of my classmates and we have helped each other a lot. The graduation ceremony was the first time we saw each other in real life, but we felt so familiar and had a lot of fun at the afterparty

The graduation ceremony was amazing! There was an official party in the main building, and we had champagne and sweets. It lived up to my expectations. I’m currently staying in a hotel in Moscow. I like this city; it’s modern, unique, and has everything you need.

The advantage of online learning is that it gives you the opportunity to multi-task, which means you can study and work at the same time. It saves a lot of time. The disadvantage would be your friendship with your classmates begins at the graduation ceremony. I wish we had met each other in real life earlier, because we really get along.

My advice to students starting the programme is to work hard and play hard. Stay focused and make all the mistakes you can make when you’re young (not serious ones—you know what I mean).


Sergio Camposortega, Mexico

I am 33 years old. I live in Mexico City and I work as a data science consultant at Telefonica Movistar. I studied on the MASNA programme at HSE University.

I found the programme on Coursera. I compared different programmes focused on data science, network analytics and complex systems.

For me, it was a great programme because it is the only one that has a specialisation and a laboratory on applied network research. I was sure about my choice

The admission process was a little difficult because I had to apostille my documents and get official translations of them. The entrance exam consisted of an interview where they asked me about my studies and my job. The communication and the enrolment process were fine.

I chose courses in Categorical Data Analysis, Longitudinal Data Analysis, Social Network Analysis with R, Data Mining, Working with Network Data, Advanced Network Analysis Methods and Network Analysis: Statistical Approaches. The ones I liked most were Advanced Network Analysis Methods and Network Analysis: Statistical Approaches. I found all the methods about network analytics very interesting and applied them in my final project.

My coursemates were very nice, though communication could be a little difficult because of the time difference.

With online learning, you need a lot of self-discipline to manage the schedule, as well as do the homework at your own rhythm but to a deadline

This Master’s programme helped me to reach my academic goal. I would like to do a PhD in Network Science and I hope that in ten years, I will have my own enterprise that helps with the Big Data for Social Good project, data science for business, and conducting research in theoretical network science at a research institute

I am very grateful to the university, my coursemates and teachers for sharing their experiences and knowledge.

Iris Cilenšek, Slovenia

I am 26 years old and from Ljubljana, Slovenia. I recently completed the MASNA programme at HSE University. I am also currently employed as a data science researcher at the Bioinformatics Laboratory at the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Computer Science.

I initially enrolled in the Master's in Applied Social Psychology. I chose HSE University for the diverse range of international programmes, the opportunity for tuition discounts based on academic achievements, and the availability of student residences at affordable prices.

During my Psychology degree, I developed a deep fascination with statistics. I didn’t want to change universities, so I began searching for programmes at HSE that aligned with my newfound passion. That's when I came across MASNA. It not only offered exceptional technical knowledge in statistics, but it also provided a unique opportunity to collaborate with esteemed professors from the University of Ljubljana.

I saw it as a remarkable chance to establish connections with domestic experts while delving into the unexplored potential of network analysis in the world of data

To transfer to the MASNA programme, I simply had to submit a digital request for my academic transcript on the HSE website and wait for the results. Communication primarily occurred via email, and I was impressed with the responsiveness of all the university departments involved in the process.

The curriculum covers a broad range of statistical and technical knowledge, emphasising the utilisation of R software (although Python is also offered as an alternative). Students have the flexibility to select subjects based on their personal interests, with options ranging from data science-related topics to more business-oriented ones. I gravitated towards subjects in the data science field.

Many of the courses left a strong impression on me, but what stood out the most was the collegiate atmosphere that prevailed despite the online format. The professors were highly responsive, fostering an environment that encouraged initiative.

The more interest we showed in specific topics, the more invested the professors became in supporting our learning journey

In addition to traditional online lectures, we frequently had laboratory exercises and assignments that involved working with various kinds of software and completing predefined tasks. Assessment often involved a final group project, which was simultaneously relaxed and stressful, but provided a valuable learning experience.

The online nature of the programme facilitated increased interaction and communication among students compared to a traditional classroom setting. Engaging in group work further encouraged this dynamic, and we made valuable friendships and created our own student community.

At the same time, the online format requires a heightened level of self-discipline and focus to stay engaged. You need to be constantly available and on standby if you want to stay up to date with everything, and that can sometimes disrupt your daily routine and make it harder to balance other responsibilities.

The graduation ceremony holds a special place in my heart. It was an opportunity to finally meet my classmates in person, after having interacted primarily online throughout our studies. Dressed in our master's robes, we celebrated our collective achievements and toasted to our success.

I would highly recommend that future students seize this opportunity and make the most of their study time in acquiring new knowledge and skills

The professors from the MASNA programme wholeheartedly support and encourage new initiatives and endeavours. Embrace the enthusiasm and guidance they provide, as it can truly enhance your learning experience and open doors to remarkable growth and development.

Register for online MASNA admission consultations in July.