Microsoft announces new Professional Degree program

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Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate VP of Developer Platform and Evangelism at Microsoft, took the stage at WPC2016 to announce Microsoft’s new Professional Degree program. Currently, the program is only being piloted, but Microsoft expects to be expanding it soon. The only degree currently offered during the pilot phase is the Microsoft Professional Degree in Data Science. Microsoft also says graudates will earn a “digitally shareable and résumé-worthy credential.”

The site for the new program says their Professional Degree in Data Science includes “a curriculum” teaching “functional and technical skills, combining highly rated online courses with hands-on labs, concluding in a final capstone project.” The curriculum was developed by consulting with Data Scientists to identify requisite core skills for the rapidly growing field.

The Course

In all the program includes 8 modules, plus an orientation and a final project. The 8 modules cover:

  • 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

Any of the courses or hands-on labs can be audited for free. But in order to receive credit towards your Microsoft Professional Degree, you must have purchased a Verified Certificate for each of the ten courses. Microsoft describes the pricing structure saying,

For the Data Science degree, the Verified Certificate for the orientation course is $25, and the Verified Certificate for “Statistical Thinking for Data Science and Analytics” is US $99. All other courses offer Verified Certificates for US $49 each.

So if you add it up, all in a Microsoft Professional Degree in Data Science costs a little over $500. Microsoft also describes a few other aspects of the program. It will include discussion groups with teaching assistants. And the final capstone project will put students to the test with real-world data challenges using the Cortana Intelligence platform.

With Microsoft’s focus on empowering people to do more, and their recent acquisition of LinkedIn, which owns the online training platform, the Microsoft Professional Degree fits in nicely with their new direction. It will be interesting to see what further programs Microsoft offers, but certainly Data Science is a quickly growing field and a good place for Microsoft to start.