Microsoft Launches New Online Data Science Program

Most anyone venturing into the fast-expanding field of data science quickly notices a striking trend in the workforce: there is a desperate and growing need for experienced data scientists, which continues to inflate salary offers.

Salary aggregate figures published on the major job sites (Glassdoor, Monster, Indeed) in July 2016 revealed that multi-billion dollar companies were tossing around starting salary offers of over $200,000 to attract the best and brightest data scientists around. For example:

  • LinkedIn offered $226k-$243k
  • Netflix offered $200k-$214k
  • Walmart offered $178-$218k

But to be clear, the workforce demand is not for average data scientists but for highly skilled data scientists. This occupational distinction is being referred to in the data analyst community as the “talent gap” or “skills gap.”

The McKinsey Global Institute predicts that by 2018 there will be an estimated shortage of roughly 1.5 million skilled data scientist with expert-level knowledge.

And although there are now over 70 dedicated data science master’s degree programs available throughout the United States, it is still not enough.

In response to this widening talent and skills gap, Microsoft announced its new Microsoft Professional Degree (MPD) program during the Worldwide Partner Conference in mid-July. The program, which is offered online through edX.org, is specifically concentrated on data science courses.

According to Microsoft, these data science courses will revolve around the following topics:

  • 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

Microsoft is allowing anyone to audit courses free of charge. But in order to receive a Verified Certificate, students must pay $25 for an orientation course, $99 for a “Statistical Thinking for Data Science and Analytics” Verified Certificate, and $49 for every other individual course taken.


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