Microsoft has unveiled an online certification program called “Microsoft Professional Degree” during the third day of the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto that took place this week.
The new degree program is in beta/pilot at this point and the first certifications, which Microsoft will award this September, will be in the data science area. According to a website for the program, Microsoft consulted data scientists and companies employing them to figure out what the core skills required are in that field. Microsoft then developed a curriculum to teach the skills via online courses and hands-on labs. Graduates will receive a Microsoft Professional Degree in Data Science.
The Data Science degree will have ten courses included in the program, which are free to access. They 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
However, those wishing to receive official accreditation will have to purchase a Verified Certificate for each of the courses. Most of those cost $49, though the opening orientation course will cost $25, and one of the courses costs $99.
According to Microsoft, the new degree program is partly motivated by a looming skills gap in the data science field. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed whether more degree programs in other fields will follow, stating only: “As this is currently in the pilot stage, we are unable to share any direction on future offerings.”