Microsoft, Data science degree, free online courses

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Microsoft looked two years into the future and saw there will be a shortfall of manpower in the critical data science niche in tech firms. About 200,000 people would be needed in just that field in the US alone; that is why they are shortly going to start offering processional data science degree programs.

Microsoft, Data science degree, free online courses
Microsoft

Known as the Microsoft Professional Degree (MPD) program, the course is going to be offered through the non-profit online education site known as Edx.org. Edx.org is funded by the world renowned Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

This news was made known yesterday at Microsoft’s World Partner Conference ( WPC). Here is how the news was announced in a blog post by Allison Cunard:

Big news today at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference!  Today we are excited to announce the Microsoft Professional Degree (MPD) program the first program of its kind to offer employer-endorsed, university caliber curriculum for professionals at any stage of their career.  MPD is a Microsoft led initiative, built on the Open edX on Azure platform, providing professionals with real-world knowledge and hands-on experience to grow their skills in critical fields.  The initial curriculum will focus on the Data Science Degree program providing targeted skills and experiences in the rapidly evolving data science industry.”

Microsoft, Data science degree, free online courses
Microsoft Professional Degree

The initial phase of the Data Science Degree program will kick off soon with ten courses. These courses include

  • Data Science Orientation
  • Query Relational Data
  • Analyze and Visualize Data
  • Understand Statistics
  • Explore Data with Code
  • Understand Core Data Science Concepts
  • Understand Machine Learning
  • Use Code to Manipulate and Model Data
  • Develop Intelligent Solutions
  • Final Project

Though the program is free, if you need a certificate to show a prospective employer or just to proudly hang in your office, then you’ll need to pay a little money for each of the ten courses. Most of them go for a token of just $49.

However, there is an orientation fee of just $25. That is for all the 10 courses. I can hear some people saying the existence of any sort of fee clearly means the program is not free. I can understand that point of view. Sometimes, that is just the way it is with some of these ‘free‘ online courses.

One good thing about the program, just like most online degree programs, is the level of flexibility of the timetable. For those that want to do the program on a part time basis while they face their daily work schedule, they should be able to complete each course in one and a half months if they put in five hours of study a week. That is roughly one hour a day.

Microsoft, Data science degree, free online courses
Edx.org

However, those on full time basis, or those who dedicate about 5 hours every day to the program, could get the Data Science degree in just two and a half months.

This Microsoft program is similar to those offered by other big tech companies. For instance, just three weeks ago, Google announced it was going to offer courses on how to make Android apps. This is in partnership with another popular online learning platform Udacity.

Microsoft, Data science degree, free online courses
Udacity

GitHub and Flipkart are two other tech firms involved in these sorts of programs which are collectively known as Massive open online Courses (MOOC).

Already a test run of the program has being in existence for about two months now. Hundreds of people have successfully participated in the program. Another window will soon open up for more intakes; so you can go here to sign up for it.

I see this as a clear situation of, ‘The more the better.’ The more of these free highly professional courses are out there, the better it would be for individuals who have no access to these sort of programs in their location. And the fact it is free means it is an opportunity for financially disadvantaged folks to get a bit of professional education.

 

image credit: venturebeat.com; dellfourcolorcomics.com; mspoweruser.com; Udacity

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