The new master’s degree programme is located UCSC’s Silicon Valley Campus close to industry actors working on NLP problems (photo by @carlesrgm)

New Master’s Degree in NLP 2020

Graduate studies in natural language processing at UCSC

The 16th of July the news centre at UC Santa Cruz wrote about an appointment to their new master’s degree programme in Natural Language Processing. This is an article summarising a few of the facts about the programme. I have not applied to this programme nor do I intend to, however I think it is interesting to have a look at an NLP programme on the graduate level to understand what focus they have.

If you want to skip my article and go directly to the website to read more about the programme follow this link:

To get admitted you will need:

  • B.A. in Computer Science
  • At least one quarter of introductory statistics (the equivalent of STAT 5 or STAT 7 at UCSC).

Apparently, classes will be located at the UCSC Silicon Valley Campus once the county’s shelter-in-place order is lifted.

A sample programme has been provided:

For the last capstone project all students will be required to either present a poster or oral presentation at the Natural Language Processing Fair, which will be an integral part of the capstone evaluation.

The Natural Language Processing Fair will be an annual one-day event taking place at the end of each Summer term to which program faculty, students and members of the Industry Advisory Board will be encouraged to attend.

This suggest that those who want to keep updated on this topic may be interested in understanding what comes out of the university on this day. As it is generally expected that the fair should serve as a general outreach to NLP scientists in local industry and government.

The Executive Director of the Graduate Programme

Adwait Ratnaparkhi has been appointed as executive director of the new master’s degree program in Natural Language Processing.

He is the former director of voice and natural language understanding R&D at Roku and has over 20 years of experience as a researcher and manager at companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Nuance, and at startups such as 33Across, where he served as chief scientist. During his time at Roku he developed natural language understanding and conversational AI technologies.

Adwait holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S.E. in computer science from Princeton University.

Ratnaparkhi foresees a proliferation of smaller, customised voice assistants that will require NLP engineers and programmers.

Marilyn Walker and Jeffrey Flannigan is doing existing NLP research happening in the Ph.D. program.

NLP People

In addition to this they have a long list of people working to make this graduate programme great.

  • Their programme director Marilyn Walker. Professor, Computer Science and Engineering.
  • Executive Director. Adwait Ratnaparkhi Lecturer, Computer Science and Engineering.
  • Pranav Anand. Associate Professor, Linguistics.
  • Luca de Alfaro. Professor, Computer Science and Engineering.
  • Cormac Flanagan. Professor, Computer Science and Engineering.
  • Jeffrey Flanigan. Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Engineering.
  • Jean E Fox Tree. Professor, Psychology.
  • Lise Getoor. Professor, Computer Science and Engineering.
  • Yang Liu. Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Engineering.
  • Narges Norouzi. Teaching Professor, Computer Science and Engineering.
  • Yi Zhang. Professor, Computer Science and Engineering.

In short, this programme has a lot of interesting and varied teaching staff while it also seems to have a strong focus on industry collaboration as well as a structured programme.

One could question whether their B.A. in Computer Science as a requirement may be limiting to attracting a diverse range of students from different backgrounds, however this graduate programme seems to aim at direct implementation in industry, so this may not necessarily be a disadvantage. It must be mentioned that I am biased in saying so, as I have a combined management and anthropology background doing an interdisciplinary master’s in Social Data Science.

This is #500daysofAI and you are reading article 410. I am writing one new article about or related to artificial intelligence every day for 500 days.



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