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Just completed NTU Msc SPM - Ask me anything

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Old 19-05-2016, 07:27 PM   #1
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Just completed NTU Msc SPM - Ask me anything

I enrolled in the part time program for NTU's MSc Systems and Project Management (August intake) in 2014. Will be graduating this year in July.

Just for fun and if anyone is curious about anything related to my experience at school, work or whatever, feel free to ask anything
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Old 19-05-2016, 09:54 PM   #2
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Just for the sake of your thread not being permanently stuck at 1 post, how was it? Was systems thinking a whole lot of Maths?
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Old 20-05-2016, 08:53 AM   #3
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Lol no worries, if nobody is interested then just let the thread die.

The 4 core modules have very minimal, almost negligible maths involved. If there was, it was pretty basic stuff most of us should have covered in Secondary school/JC/Poly/Uni like simple probability. The focus is on how you apply the tools, not learning them.

Some of the elective modules are maths heavy, but not in the sense that it involves high level calculus. More knowing which formulas you need to use for which situation and purpose.

My maths is very rusty as I have been in the working force for 8 years already. Avoided all the maths heavy modules by applying for and taking some cross-programme electives.
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Old 20-05-2016, 11:12 AM   #4
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Lol no worries, if nobody is interested then just let the thread die.

The 4 core modules have very minimal, almost negligible maths involved. If there was, it was pretty basic stuff most of us should have covered in Secondary school/JC/Poly/Uni like simple probability. The focus is on how you apply the tools, not learning them.

Some of the elective modules are maths heavy, but not in the sense that it involves high level calculus. More knowing which formulas you need to use for which situation and purpose.

My maths is very rusty as I have been in the working force for 8 years already. Avoided all the maths heavy modules by applying for and taking some cross-programme electives.
The whole course is what? 8 modules or 12 modules long?
Wa. Didn't know that can siam the maths like that. NTU also anything goes system. I am too lazy to open a new tab the google. How much did you pay for this and how would you rate the usability of this degree in your workplace and also the supposed better chances in your future career progression?
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Old 20-05-2016, 12:12 PM   #5
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There are 2 options to complete the Masters:
1. Coursework and Dissertation
8 Courses (4 core, 4 electives) + Dissertation

2. Coursework Only
10 Courses (4 core, 6 electives)

Most people did option 2. For the electives, there was one semester where I had limited choices, all heavy in maths. Then one of my classmates told me he applied for a module from Msc Supply Chain and Logistics. So I went to check it out and applied also. Need to fill up a form to say why you want to take cross module.

In total for the 4 semesters I paid around $9400, inclusive of GST, misc fees, etc.

In terms of usability, I think it depends on each person's attitude and experience. The classmates I interacted with who enjoyed the lessons the most and found them the most useful were those with a number of years of work experience. Those who went straight for Masters from their Bachelor degree were often lost, bored and couldn't contribute much. I think they were trying to get papers, not knowledge. Personally, I found the core modules the most applicable and could immediately use the concepts to aid in my work managing large scale projects.

I also took and obtained PMP certification in 2015, which has some similar topics. So what I learned in NTU was pretty useful for that as well.

Most companies have no recognition or award scheme for people upgrading their Bach degree to a Masters. I very rarely see any job listing requiring a Masters either.

Having a Masters probably will help a little for you to stand out from the crowd, but if you're looking for better pay and meeting advertised job requirements in the current employment ecosystem, you're better off looking at getting professional certifications.
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Old 20-05-2016, 01:13 PM   #6
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thought ntu is trimester for post grad?

so i trimester how many mods u took? what about full timers? workload okay? for ur cohort, easy to go onto phd?

i think for pm, pmp is the most recognised qualification, right? pms can earn 5-10k easily, 10k plus for more senior ones?

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Old 20-05-2016, 02:19 PM   #7
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There are 2 options to complete the Masters:
1. Coursework and Dissertation
8 Courses (4 core, 4 electives) + Dissertation

2. Coursework Only
10 Courses (4 core, 6 electives)

Most people did option 2. For the electives, there was one semester where I had limited choices, all heavy in maths. Then one of my classmates told me he applied for a module from Msc Supply Chain and Logistics. So I went to check it out and applied also. Need to fill up a form to say why you want to take cross module.

In total for the 4 semesters I paid around $9400, inclusive of GST, misc fees, etc.

In terms of usability, I think it depends on each person's attitude and experience. The classmates I interacted with who enjoyed the lessons the most and found them the most useful were those with a number of years of work experience. Those who went straight for Masters from their Bachelor degree were often lost, bored and couldn't contribute much. I think they were trying to get papers, not knowledge. Personally, I found the core modules the most applicable and could immediately use the concepts to aid in my work managing large scale projects.

I also took and obtained PMP certification in 2015, which has some similar topics. So what I learned in NTU was pretty useful for that as well.

Most companies have no recognition or award scheme for people upgrading their Bach degree to a Masters. I very rarely see any job listing requiring a Masters either.

Having a Masters probably will help a little for you to stand out from the crowd, but if you're looking for better pay and meeting advertised job requirements in the current employment ecosystem, you're better off looking at getting professional certifications.
Ok. Let's keep the thread moving since it has already moved.
For a non-engineering, non-technical person who has some years of work experience in an admin job, how would you rate the usefulness of the course in terms of using project management and system thinking to at least understanding and attempt to fix? some longstanding recurring problems?

I have some idea as to what systems thinking is and find it a very useful set of knowledge to have. I just do not know how it will translate for people who are not project managers or who are neither here nor there.
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Old 20-05-2016, 04:38 PM   #8
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thought ntu is trimester for post grad?

so i trimester how many mods u took? what about full timers? workload okay? for ur cohort, easy to go onto phd?

i think for pm, pmp is the most recognised qualification, right? pms can earn 5-10k easily, 10k plus for more senior ones?
I can't speak for all post grad courses, but MAE Masters all seem to be either 1 year (2 semesters) for full time or 2 years (4 semesters) for part time. This is the minimum, if you want to stretch out you can pay more for the extra semesters up to a certain limit.

Each academic year is typically something like:
1st Semester is August to November
2nd Semester is January to April

Most people went for the 10 module option, so some did something like:
1st sem - 2 modules
2nd sem - 3 modules
3rd sem - 3 modules
4th sem - 2 modules

I went for the dissertation option so did 2 modules each semester plus a dissertation.

The classmates who were full time completed in 1 year, typically doing 5 modules per semester.

PMP is the most commonly recognized in Singapore. Some European guys will talk about PRINCE2 which is the UK equivalent (PMI is American).

The range in pay for PMs varies extremely widely, depending on the organization's definition of PM. I know fresh grad PMs who mostly do tracking of project progress of vendors and some project coordination. Their pay can be below $3k. Then you have the superhero PMs who do everything including the technical, contractual, administrative, etc. It all depends on how the organization cuts up the roles and responsibilities and size of the project. PM for an iphone app and PM for constructing a building very different.

Those with years of experience in particular domains are highly sought after and will command much higher pay, close to what you described. You will often see government tenders with specifications like "Project Manager must have at least 8 years experience managing projects of similar scale and nature".
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Old 20-05-2016, 04:52 PM   #9
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Ok. Let's keep the thread moving since it has already moved.
For a non-engineering, non-technical person who has some years of work experience in an admin job, how would you rate the usefulness of the course in terms of using project management and system thinking to at least understanding and attempt to fix? some longstanding recurring problems?

I have some idea as to what systems thinking is and find it a very useful set of knowledge to have. I just do not know how it will translate for people who are not project managers or who are neither here nor there.
Project management and systems thinking are both useful life skills and might change the way you look at things. There's that popular 80/20 rule many people know about (Pareto principle): For many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

To me a large part of the goal of project management and system thinking is to equip you with the skills and tools to identify and work on that 20%. So you and your people don't spend 80% of the effort solving only 20% of the problem instead. Whether this be in costing, scheduling, technical design, or other areas.

But you don't need a university or a degree to learn. If you enjoy reading, I'll go check my repository and give you some suggested books and websites to check out. However the value of being in the classes is that many of the lecturers were themselves industry experts for many years, and during interactions with them and other students, you will hear many good stories, problems and how they were solved.
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Old 20-05-2016, 05:13 PM   #10
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Project management and systems thinking are both useful life skills and might change the way you look at things. There's that popular 80/20 rule many people know about (Pareto principle): For many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

To me a large part of the goal of project management and system thinking is to equip you with the skills and tools to identify and work on that 20%. So you and your people don't spend 80% of the effort solving only 20% of the problem instead. Whether this be in costing, scheduling, technical design, or other areas.

But you don't need a university or a degree to learn. If you enjoy reading, I'll go check my repository and give you some suggested books and websites to check out. However the value of being in the classes is that many of the lecturers were themselves industry experts for many years, and during interactions with them and other students, you will hear many good stories, problems and how they were solved.
Ok. Then recommend me some books/websites. Good one's preferably with pictures. Books with all words do not evoke good memories for me.
But I think given that you found it very useful shows that the $9,000 was well spent.

Another question, other than NTU, were you looking at any other comparable courses before you settled on them? And why?
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Old 20-05-2016, 06:01 PM   #11
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how intensive are each module?
how do u manage between ur study, social and working life?
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Old 20-05-2016, 09:35 PM   #12
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Ok. Let's keep the thread moving since it has already moved.
For a non-engineering, non-technical person who has some years of work experience in an admin job, how would you rate the usefulness of the course in terms of using project management and system thinking to at least understanding and attempt to fix? some longstanding recurring problems?

I have some idea as to what systems thinking is and find it a very useful set of knowledge to have. I just do not know how it will translate for people who are not project managers or who are neither here nor there.
pine pine u wanna do pm? pm is like a guy's job, lol, lots of ot during projects.

without technical skills in it or engineering, pm is less useful, as u probably wont even be a mger in the first place. i read the prince framework before but i forgot everything. pm is just drawing charts flow, project plan, backups, etc.
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Old 21-05-2016, 08:32 AM   #13
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1. I didn't know jobs still had a gender requirement I Guess all the male Nurses should GTFO and get a new job 🙄
2. Genuine question. $9,000 aside, why must the learning of anything be tied to its immediate usefulness? Foe the government skillfuture to plug the PMET hole; for the people what immediate monetary and career benefits? I asked OP because he had 8 years relevant experience. I said I'm interested because I'm interested. What's wrong with that?

pine pine u wanna do pm? pm is like a guy's job, lol, lots of ot during projects.

without technical skills in it or engineering, pm is less useful, as u probably wont even be a mger in the first place. i read the prince framework before but i forgot everything. pm is just drawing charts flow, project plan, backups, etc.
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Old 21-05-2016, 09:11 AM   #14
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Ok. Then recommend me some books/websites. Good one's preferably with pictures. Books with all words do not evoke good memories for me.
But I think given that you found it very useful shows that the $9,000 was well spent.

Another question, other than NTU, were you looking at any other comparable courses before you s ettled on them? And why?
One of my favorite books for real world project management is this one:

It's easy to read (about 100+ A5 sized pages) and can be entertaining. When I showed this page to my colleagues they all laughed at how true it was:


But that book won't help you with PMP. PMP is theoretical and ideal-world, whereas that book confronts the truth of how projects can be extremely messy. I have a hardcopy of this, not sure if it's possible to find free pdf copies online.

There are PDF copies of "Absolute Beginner's Guide To project Management" floating around the web. That one is a little more comprehensive and closer to PMP structure. It will touch on the tools and concepts but not go in depth on how to use the tools.

Videos may be more interesting, and you can pick and choose specific topics to learn. This channel has lots of good videos which covers basic to advanced stuff, and their terminology and structure is consistent with the PMP: https://www.youtube.com/user/projectmanagervideos

For Systems Engineering, one of the easier textbooks to read is "Systems Engineering Principles and Practice" by Alexander Kossiakoff, William N. Sweet, Samuel J. Seymour and Steven M. Biemer. It's a 500+ page book, but the way to learn I've found is to read through the more basic parts and skip the advanced stuff first, then come back when you have more experience / put more thought into the topics. You can find PDF copies online as well.

Apart from NTU, I did try luck to apply for NUS Msc Project Management. I was rejected, which wasn't a surprise cos I didn't meet the requirements (bachelor’s degree with honours). I'm happy I got into NTU Msc SPM instead though. To be honest, the Msc SPM only has 50% of one module that covers Project Management. All the other core modules are more on Systems Engineering. Then I picked the electives which were relevant to my work like supply chain management and product design. Useful stuff so you know what you are talking about when you are managing suppliers and technical staff.
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Old 21-05-2016, 09:35 AM   #15
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how intensive are each module?
how do u manage between ur study, social and working life?
This particular Msc programme is not technically difficult. It's a lot of theory and telling of stories. But looking at my classmates, those with real world experience will find it very easy because they can relate the concepts to their experience. When the lecturer explains something they will be nodding and "Ya ya, this always happens. Should do it this or that way".

Those with no real world experience cannot relate and feel like they need to memorize the concepts without being able to really appreciate why things should be done in a certain way.

Each module was 3 hours long, 6.45pm to 9.45pm. I took 2 each semester and always tried to have them on consecutive days. Work still ended at 6pm so after work, take taxi to NTU, buy a subway sandwich, go to class and eat. None of the lecturers complained about me eating in class, I think they understand part-time students no time for proper dinner. There were class assignments, presentations and exams.

I had to find a balance and give up some of my spare time somewhere else. I made the decision to quit some of my hobbies. At work I was pretty much autonomous so my leave was essentially automatically approved anytime I wanted as long as I had balance to spare. But I spent all my leave on studying for exams and the exams themselves. OT a lot and put in work on weekends as well to catch up on work to ensure customer is satisfied. Had not gone on any holiday trips at all for those 2 years . But I told myself I chiong those two years first, while I still considered (relatively) young.
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