Microsoft's Online Data Science Program Enrolls in School

The company teams with Indiana University's Kelley School of Business to offer students access to the Microsoft Professional Degree (MPD) data science program.

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Microsoft may be bullish on cloud-based analytics, but so is the job market.

To help prepare today's students for tomorrow's data-driven workplaces, the Redmond, Wash. software giant announced that it has partnered with Kelley School of Business at Indiana University on a dual-certificate program based on the Microsoft Professional Degree (MPD) data science program. Introduced nearly a year ago and hosted on edX, an open-source online learning platform founded by Harvard and MIT in 2012, the MPD Data Science Degree program was launched to help narrow the data analytics skills gap.

Human resources consulting firm Robert Half named the role of data scientist as one of the most in-demand IT jobs for 2017, with salaries expected to jump 6.4 percent this year, meaning data scientists can expect to earn between $116,000 and $163,500. Data scientist also ranks as the best job in America for the second year in a row, according to career website Glassdoor. Employers are eager to fill this position, which commands a median base salary of $110,000, according to the Glassdoor.

To help fill those jobs, schools need to pump out skilled workers. And Microsoft wants to help by extending access to MPD's data analytics curriculum, along with some cloud-computing know-how, to the Kelley School of Business.

"In addition to learning the tools and technologies associated with the Microsoft Azure platform, students in the certificate program will receive a deeper understanding of the underlying concepts and learn how to apply these concepts in a business setting," wrote Chris Roy, senior director of Channels, Engines and Product Strategy at Microsoft Learning and Readiness, in a blog post. "They'll also get a thorough grounding in open source technologies used in cloud-based analytics like Apache Hadoop, R, and Apache Spark."

Microsoft is hoping that Indiana University's Kelley School of Business won't be the last. The company is encouraging other schools interested in offering similar programs to get in touch.

Meanwhile, other technology companies are working on ways of their own to help bring data science into the mainstream.

Last week, Hortonworks and IBM announced a new partnership aimed at helping data scientists and business professionals unlock the value of big data. As part of the deal, the companies are combining IBM Data Science Experience, IBM Big SQL and the Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) into a set of integrated data science and machine learning solutions for the Apache Hadoop ecosystem.

Last month, Palo Alto, Calif.-based enterprise data management specialist TIBCO announced it was acquiring Statistica in a bid to make machine learning easier for data scientists and office workers to use. The latter's data science software is being rolled into TIBCO's Insight Platform, which provides analytics tools to rank-and-file business users.

"TIBCO Spotfire, the key driver of the Insight Platform, has always been a pioneer in visual data exploration and analytics, and we are focused on making that technology a smart, one-stop shop for analytics. We welcome Statistica as an important addition to the analytics team, to help make advanced analytics even more accessible for users of all skill levels," said Mark Palmer, senior vice president of Analytics at TIBCO, in a May 15 announcement.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...