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Overview of the Newest Trends in Data Science Education: Academic and Work-Based Programs

By   /  August 23, 2017  /  No Comments

data science educationIn spite of significant efforts to train more Data Scientists, a shortage continues to exist. There is simply more demand than available applicants for this new career field. Data Science education is a growing field requiring both training and hands-on experience. Some have gained an understanding of Data Science through non-academic experience, while others have taken a traditional university path with a Bachelors in Analytics and Data Science. Some students have chosen to earn a dual degree with a Masters in both Data Science and Business (making themselves quite valuable).

While Data Scientists need technical knowledge to work with Big Data, understanding the questions to be asked and how to research them, is also crucial. This requires not just an understanding of the technology, but also the culture being researched. Some schools support programs coordinated with their engineering or business schools, while others focus on broadening their students’ horizons using a liberal arts agenda. Hiring a technician with no knowledge of business, or the target population, could easily result in wasted time and money. The ideal Data Scientist has technical skills combined with a broad background of cultural experience.

While the curriculum may vary, most Data Science programs provide a similar foundation in terms of understanding databases, handling Big Data, and statistical techniques for analyzing data. Often, students are required to complete a Big Data capstone project, or practicum, providing some real-world experience. It should be noted many Data Science fellowships rely on the previous life experiences of their participants to provide cultural understanding.

Generally speaking, schools emphasize preparing students for the work environment, and support active job placement programs. In addition to studying the technical subject matter, many programs include courses to develop business skills such as project management and communications. Some programs accommodate students who are already working by offering online and evening programs, while others require an intensive full-time course of study.

University Analytics and Data Science Degrees

A list of a number of universities in the United States offering master’s degree programs in data-related fields includes:

Some universities are offering Ph.D. programs:

There are also a number of undergraduate programs in Data Analytics or Data Science:

Data Science Fellowships

A number of Fellowship programs in Data Science have been developed. (Fellowships are typically grants that do not have to be repaid.) A degreed student wanting to add Data Science to their resume can take advantage of several fellowship opportunities. A Ph.D. recipient, who has been out of school for a few years, can also apply.

  • Insight provides an intensive, seven week fellowship designed to provide hands-on experience. With branches in New York City, Silicon Valley, Boston, Seattle, and a growing network around the country, this program allows scientists to learn the skills needed to process Big Data at major corporations.
  • The Data Incubator is a Data Science education training institution sponsored by Cornell University. It is a free 8-week advanced fellowship for PhDs (quite similar to data science bootcamps). A number of companies (LinkedIn, Capital One, Pfizer, to name a few) have partnered up with the Data Incubator, providing training feedback and jobs for graduates.
  • NYU Moore-Sloan Data Science Fellows is offered through NYU’s Center for Data Science. Fellows are urged to research the edge between Data Science and the sciences. Students are encouraged to develop partnerships with students from the University of California and the University of Washington.
  • The LSSTC Data Science Fellowship Program (DSFP) offers a two-year program applying Big Data to astronomy. Students are taught essential skills for handling and processing Big Data from LSST. This program is financed through the Enabling Science Initiative supported by the LSST Corporation.

Free Classes

Various computer-oriented corporations, such as Microsoft and IBM are offering free online classes. These are the remnants of free online programs offering Data Science degrees, which ended, but they thoughtfully left the classes online for general use (and in some cases, for a small fee, you can get credit for those classes).

  • The edX courses offered are taught by experts at Microsoft. They guide students through hands-on experiences using cutting-edge technologies, including the cloud. Microsoft courses can be audited for free or, for a small fee, students can purchase a verified certificate.
  • Dell EMC Education Services offers free courses, though there is an advertising aspect to their courses. (“Learn about Dell EMC products and industry trends with our free courses.”)
  • IBM founded the BigDataUniversity.com, which offers free training in Data Science and working with Big Data. (No certificates available.)

A Work-Based Data Science Education

There are a number of non-traditional options for gaining a Data Science education, including bootcamps, online courses, and nanodegrees. Better still, many of the high-quality courses on offer are reasonably priced or even free of charge.

Nanodegrees are usually completed much more quickly and have a narrower focus than certification programs.

Here are just some of the Data Science courses available online:

  • The Digital Skills Academy describes itself as an established, innovative leader of digital industry-linked higher education & training programs. They offer two fully accredited degrees by way of online classes.
  • Udacity offers some very interesting nanodegrees, and a fair number of free classes.  a Machine Learning Engineer nanodegree and the Data Analyst nanodegree. Both programs were designed with support from major technology companies including Google and Facebook
  • K2DataScience is designed for full-time employees wanting to get an education in Data Science. The program is completely self-paced. Tuition, however, is $6,000 online and $15,000 for an in-person program.

 

Photo Credit: Elnur/Shutterstock.com

About the author

Keith is a freelance researcher and writer.He has traveled extensively and is a military veteran. His background is physics, and business with an emphasis on Data Science. He gave up his car, preferring to bicycle and use public transport. Keith enjoys yoga, mini adventures, spirituality, and chocolate ice cream.

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