Graduates of the MS Bridge First Cohort

Students from the first cohort of the CS@CU MS Bridge are among the graduates this year. They share how the program went for them and where they are heading to work come summertime. 


Jakob Gabriel Deutsch
Salutatorian, BS Finance and Business Analytics, Sy Syms School of Business of Yeshiva University 2020

For me, the MS Bridge program has been a great experience. Coming from a finance background with minimal experience with programming, the bridge portion of the program really gave me the necessary skills and experience to succeed in the MS portion of the program. Not only did the program bring me up to speed with other students, but the MS portion really exposed me to the various areas within the field of computer science and enabled me to explore those different disciplines.

When I started the program I wasn’t sure which track I wanted to pursue. After taking a couple of courses and seeing which ones matched best with my interest and strengths, I decided to pursue the Software Systems track. My favorite part of the program was probably a course that I took in my final semester, Advanced Database Systems with Professor Luis Gravano. It was a great class in which we learned about a variety of information extraction techniques and had the opportunity to implement a number of them ourselves as assigned projects. Professor Gravano was great and the course really bridged the gap between theory and application which is something you do not always get to see in the context of a single course.

During the summer I had the opportunity to intern for Prudential Financial as a Software Engineering Intern. There, I was able to continue building my programming skills in a more hands-on setting.

Having completed the MS program, I am confident that I have the skills necessary to be successful in any computer science related position. At the end of the summer, I will start full-time work at American Express as a Software Engineer in their New York office.


Matthew Maximino Duran
BA Economics and Mathematics, School of General Studies of Columbia University 2020
Former 3B with the New York Yankees

The program has been wonderful and it met all of my expectations. I was able to move through it at my own pace and was fully prepared for all of the master’s level coursework that I encountered. It was really important to me to not just become fluent in coding but to learn the fundamentals that underpin all of computer science. Through the Bridge classes and the master’s core, I have set the foundation for future learning as technologies change.

The MS Bridge program allowed me to get up to speed and prepare myself to thrive in the challenging master’s classes. That mission definitely succeeded, I never not once felt unprepared in any of the classes that I took in the MS portion of the program.

My favorite course was Advanced Databases with Professor Luis Gravano. In that class, we learned how the modern internet works, from web search and data mining to information retrieval and extraction. Overall, he was one of the most engaging and prepared professors that I had.

I started the program wanting to study Software Systems and I followed through on that goal. I felt that the Systems track afforded me the greatest flexibility in future career options, and for me personally, it was a “need to have.” Had I studied computer science in undergrad, then I could have potentially done Machine Learning or a different track. The systems track was very well planned and allowed me to touch all facets of modern computing from low-level hardware to the cloud. Overall, I am very thrilled with how everything turned out.

I did not do an internship during the program, one of my biggest regrets. I took summer classes with the hopes of accelerating my progress through the program. Maybe as this program takes off, there will be companies willing to partner with MS Bridge students, who have much less practical work experience than their peers.

After the program, I begin my software engineering career with American Express in New York City. I am really excited to see the types of projects that I will be working on, and how all of my foundational knowledge can be applied to real-world projects.


Ethan P Garry
BA Mathematics and Statistics, University of Rochester 2016
Associate of the Society of Actuaries in 2019

I loved the MS Bridge program! The program absolutely exceeded expectations. I might be lucky, but I 100% fell in love with coding, technology, and building systems. Now I am very confident in my tech skills, to the point where project partners are frequently impressed with my practical knowledge.

I started with software systems, then graphics, and ultimately made a personalized track (that I highly recommend for anyone looking for practical experience). Compared with friends who went with systems, they learned excellent skills and have great knowledge of systems, but lack certain high-level, real-world project building expertise.

Intro to Databases/Cloud Computing with Professor Donald Ferguson and User Interface Design/Advanced Web Design with Assistant Professor Lydia Chilton were my favorite classes. Both professors are incredibly passionate about teaching in their own unique way. These two professors were the best I have had in my entire educational career.

I was also able to do an internship where I worked with the Columbia Build Lab. This is another experience I highly recommend – it was very much like being thrown into the sea, but it forces you to learn so many practical concepts. You will be incredibly prepared for anything that comes next.

After graduation, I’ll be working as a Software Development Engineer at Amazon in their Physical Stores office in Seattle.



Voices of CS: MS Bridge Student Testimonials

The CS@CU MS Bridge Program in Computer Science equips students from non-computer science backgrounds with the skills and knowledge necessary to build careers in technology.

The program is designed as a year of rigorous “bridge” coursework composed of introductory CS courses. This transition prepares students for a seamless entrance into Columbia Engineering’s MS program in Computer Science after the bridge year.

Each student takes a different path through the program and most of the first cohort is done with their bridge year. Below are some of their experiences from the past year.

Ethan Garry
BA Mathematics and Statistics, University of Rochester 2016
Associate of the Society of Actuaries in 2019

I tried learning from online resources for several months before applying to the MS Bridge program. CS is a demanding discipline and in order to rapidly evolve my skills, I needed an intense academic setting that Columbia has provided for me. I took four bridge courses over the past year and started the MS this spring. The four bridge courses were excellent preparation for my current coursework and they also provided sufficient knowledge to land a front-end development internship with SuperWorld (a virtual real estate marketplace).

After the program, I hope to either become a front-end web developer or a full-stack web developer for a small tech company focused on helping local businesses.

Muhan Liang
MS Strategic Communication, Columbia University School of Professional Studies 2020
BS Communications Boston University 2018

I come from a communications background and I didn’t have any former knowledge of computer science. The MS Bridge program has provided a valuable and high-quality experience in gaining all the necessary foundational skills in computer science.

I am really excited about transitioning to the master’s program this semester!


Nand Chandravadia
BS Neuroscience, University of California, Los Angeles 2017

I have done research on brain-computer interfaces that piqued my interest in the intersection of neuroscience and computer science. This pushed me to apply to the MS Bridge program to further my knowledge in CS and gain the necessary acumen and technical skills to pursue my research interests. The most important thing I have learned is to view the world from the perspective of a computer scientist. Especially when trying to tackle a research question, a computational mindset can be very helpful in distilling the essence of a question and coming up with a tractable solution (if one exists).

After the MS program, I plan on pursuing a PhD and I am very excited to take the knowledge learned from inside the classroom and apply it to the outside world.


Krystal Briggs
BA Speech-Language Pathology and Linguistics, Brooklyn College Honors Academy 2017

I feel confident that Columbia’s MS Bridge Program will prepare me for a career in medical tech. The program provides exceptional academic advising with professors who truly care about the success of their students.

Once I reach the master’s portion of the program I look forward to specializing in bioinformatics and I plan to further extend my education and work towards bridging the gap in healthcare amongst underrepresented communities.


ZiJia Chen
BA Liberal Arts, The New School 2020

I have started businesses where I created websites and applications but I realized that to truly make these startups successful I needed to learn more about CS and build my technical skills. I want to integrate what I will learn from the MS program with my design background to create interdisciplinary innovation and apply it to entrepreneurship.

I plan to take advantage of my time at Columbia to learn as much as I can, build relationships with classmates and professors, and work with Columbia’s Startup Lab to create something that will help humanity.


Matthew Duran
BA Economics and Mathematics, School of General Studies of Columbia University 2020
Former 3B with the New York Yankees

Now that I have a good theoretical and programming foundation in computer science, I plan to complete the software systems track which will let me dive deeper into the core of modern computing and build systems that everyone uses. I will also take electives such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Honestly, I’m excited about the rest of the program because the possibilities are endless.


Lawrence Lai
BS Accounting, SUNY Binghamton 2011

Aside from doing all the coursework and studying, I have made time to participate in a research project and join a couple of hackathons. These are some of the great opportunities offered by the school.

Overall, the program has been challenging and rewarding at the same time. I look forward to all the exciting work that I will be doing in grad school and beyond.