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Pitt is making data science accessible worldwide with a new online master’s degree

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  • School of Computing and Information

Students without any computing or STEM education and experience will be embraced in a new online master’s in data science, launching on Coursera in 2024 through the University of Pittsburgh School of Computing and Information, school officials announced Dec. 6.

Tuition for this novel master’s degree program is $15,000. In addition, the 30-credit Master of Data Science (MDS) is 38% more affordable than the average online master’s degree program, according to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The accessible, flexible online curriculum, one of the most ambitious initiatives ever at Pitt’s School of Computing and Information (SCI), will allow students from Pennsylvania, the U.S. and across the globe to learn data science skills and analytic tools, gain abilities to pose and answer real-world questions through data and complete experiential projects to build a portfolio they can share with potential employers — all at their own pace.

Admission to the program does not require prior data or computer science work, programming experience or even an academic history beyond a bachelor’s degree. The fully accredited program is performance-based, requiring students to attain a B-average or better in an initial, three-credit course to continue toward this newly offered graduate degree. 

Enrollment is scheduled to begin Feb. 12, with the first course starting in May. Admitted students can begin a full course load in fall 2024.

“Our MDS removes entry barriers, reassesses admission processes, and harnesses technology to deliver an exceptionally accessible program that embodies Pitt’s high-quality, internationally recognized education,” said Dean Bruce Childers. “SCI is embarking on this new online degree program because we realize the importance of providing access to data skills and knowledge inclusive of all learners.”

SCI builds on the results of more than a century of progress, bringing together learners of various disciplines through a shared investment in innovation and technology. Continuing that trajectory, top SCI research and teaching faculty developed the MDS curriculum so working adults could learn data approaches relevant to their current career paths or advance in data science jobs, which are among the fastest growing across the globe.

“SCI wants to place our alumni in the best possible position to secure the right job for them,” said Adam Lee, executive associate dean. “We believe the MDS program will help to make that happen.”

The MDS coursework was designed to provide schedule flexibility to working professionals while also including optional live sessions where students can interact with faculty and course staff throughout the curriculum. Students will also have access to the same kinds of resources as resident students, including student services, career resources, peer communications and the same faculty.

Coursera, a leading online learning platform founded by two Stanford professors in 2012, partners with more than 300 universities and companies to offer a broad catalog of content and credentials to learners worldwide. 

“We're proud to collaborate with Pitt and bring this highly accessible degree program to life," said Marni Baker Stein, chief content officer at Coursera. "Amid a growing demand for data scientists, we're creating a pathway for learners from diverse backgrounds to transform their passion into a profession. I look forward to seeing the many opportunities this program will unlock for students and witnessing the contributions they'll make to the field.”

To learn more, visit SCI’s webpage or Coursera.


— Chuck Finder, photography by Aimee Obidzinski