Python at Columbia Business School


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Ready to start? Enroll in this canvas course

The world runs on code; from core operations to Business Analytics. Even if you won't be working in tech, understanding how these technologies work is crucial to being successful in the modern world - Python will be to you what Excel was to students 20 years ago.

CBS has one of the best Python programs around; wheher you just want the basics for recruiting, or want to do a more in-depth study. The program is structured in three levels for maximum flexibility:

  • Level 1: Python basics: designed for those who thinks Python is a snake. By the end of this level, you should be able to pass a coding interview.
  • Level 2: Business python: essential ways Python is used in business; analyzing data, automating emails and productivity tasks, building apps, and more. You will need to pass the Basic Python Qualification Exam to access this level.
  • Level 3: Advanced Python: covers more advanced topics such as AI, machine learning, and subject-specific applications. You will need to pass the Advanced Python Qualification Exam to access this level.
  • For those not currently enrolled as MBA students at Columbia Business School, Columbia Executive Education runs Python for Managers (online), also available through the alumni edge program for CBS alumni.

Check out this video for a summary of these levels, and use the links above to navigate this page.

Level 1

Level 1 comprises a series of self-guided videos, which you can choose to complete in one of two ways:

  • By yourself in your own time; Slack support will be available form a team of dedicated engineering students.
  • During one of several dedicated workshops each semester, during which you can come into a room on campus and follow the videos while in-person engineering students are there to help you with any questions you might have. All upcoming workshop dates are listed on the calendar for the "Python Level 1" canvas site; you can sign up directly on the Canvas calendar if you'd like a slot.

To get started, simply enroll in this canvas course, open to all Business School students.

If you prefer the written word, all the material at level 1 is also covered in Chapters 1-5 of Python for MBAs, available free as a download to all current Columbia students here.

Level 2

All classes at level 2 require the Basic Qualification Exam as a pre-requisite.

The main class at this level is B8154 (Python for MBAs), which will teach you how to read, write, and analyze massive datasets Excel couldn't even dream of handling, scrape websites, automate emails, and more. Other classes at this level are web app programming in Python (B8126) and the MBA track of Analytics in Action (B8146) in which you'll work on data consulting programs in interdisciplinary teams of MBAs and engineers.

Level 3

All classes at leavel 3 require either an H- in Python for MBAs (B8154) or passing the Advanced Qualification Exam as a pre-requisite.

Classes currently at this level are the engineer track of Analytics in Action (B8146), which will be available for the first time in the Fall of 2023, and Data Analytics in Python (B8139).

The Basic Python Qualification Exam

The Basic Python Qualification Exam is required to take any Python class at Columbia. Three sittings of the exam are offered each year; you can take the exam once during each sitting, at any time before the period closes. Once you pass the exam, you do not need to take it again.

The periods are as follows:

  • Period 1 opens on Feburary 15th and closes at 11:59pm on March 14th. Students must pass the exam before this deadline to be eligible to take Python classes in the Spring 2022 B-Term and Summer 2022.
  • Period 2 closes at 11:59pm on July 4th. Students must pass the exam before this deadline to be eligible to take Python classes in the Fall 2022 A-Term.
  • Period 3 closes at 11:59pm on October 17th. Students must pass the exam before this deadline to be eligible to take Python classes in the Fall 2022 B-Term and the Spring 2023 A-Term.

The bullets below describe the exam logistics. Instead of reading them, it is highly recommended that you watch the last video in the Python Level 1 Canvas Class, which will cover all these logistics and more. You do not need to take the rest of the class to watch this last video.

  • To access the exam platform, go to Log in with your uni, and enter the keyword BASICEXAMSUMMER1 to access the exam. When you enter the exam a four hour timer will start; most students complete it in under two hours.
    • If you are an EMBA student and hoping to take the Summer 2022 version of the class, you must use keyword EMBAEXAM instead. The deadline to complete this exam for that class is May 13th, 10am EDT; no extensions will be granted under any circumstances.
  • You can access a mock exam using the keyword MOCKEXAM. The solutions for this mock exam are avalable right under the video described above, in the last module of the Python Level 1 Canvas Class.
  • The exam will comprise 6 basic Python questions.
    • Each question will require you to write a Python function.
    • The platform will test your function against a number of test cases - your function needs to return the correct value to pass each test case.
    • Some test cases are visible. You will be told in advance the inputs with which your function will be tested, and the expected outputs.
    • Some test cases are hidden; you will not know what inputs your function will be tested with, or the expected outputs.
  • You can answer the questions in any order. Once you have attempted a question, you can
    • Click on the Test Run button, to test your answer on the visible test cases and ensure there are no bugs in your code. You can do this as many times as you want.
    • Click on the Submit button, to test your answer against all test cases, including hidden ones. You will be told whether your answers were right or wrong, but not what these test cases were. You can do this a maximum of five times. Your best score will be counted.
    • YOU MUST SUBMIT EVERY QUESTION BEFORE THE EXAM TIMER RUNS OUT. The questions will not be submitted automatically for you. To pass the exam, you must score 100%; all of your functions must pass all of the test cases.

The Advanced Python Qualification Exam

The Advanced Qualification Exam will be available for the first time in the Fall 2022 semester. Only one advanced class (Real Estate Analytics) will be offered in the fall 2022 semester. Anyone who has not taken "Python for MBAs" and woud like to register for that class should email [email protected] to arrange a special sitting of the advanced qualification exam.