Udacity launches online degree program to meet the need for more data scientists

November 14
9:36 PM 2013

Education startup Udacity made its new online degree program available today. The company's data science degree program, aims to meet the dearth of data scientists. The first class on the data science program is "Introduction to Hadoop and MapReduce." Udacity and leading experts at Cloudera worked together to develop the classes. The class begins by asking the question "What is Big Data?" before proceeding to explain Hadoop and MapReduce fundamentals.

Although the courses are free, students who decide that they want more instructional support can choose pay a few hundred dollars a month for the added service. This is cheaper than the online masters program on data science available at edtech startup 2U and UC Berkeley which costs USD 60,000.

By January, Udacity would start to offer the entire course while adding to its for-credit classes made available this summer. Udacity's Big Data and Data Science courses will enable students to receive feedback and career mentoring. It will also allow them to do hands-on projects, among others.

Udacity's new program came as the White House announced a new USD 37 million initiative that seeks to get more universities in the US to do data science work. According to a TechCrunch report, a lot of companies were looking to hire data scientists who are in short supply. The report cited an interview with Michael Rappa with the Federal Computer Week. The North Carolina State University Director of Advanced Analytics said, "There is a shortage of big data experts. I don't see the gap narrowing. Universities aren't producing enough."

The work of data scientists involves looking for patterns and getting insight from datasets which change constantly. A data wizard can work in the quantitative, marketing, operational, statistical, predictive or other aspects of analyzing data. However, their basic job is to look for a "signal" from all the digital noise that surrounds data, TechCrunch added.

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