During the company's Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft has unveiled its upcoming plans to provide online degrees that cater to the demands of highly competitive technological fields.
Officially launched as the Microsoft Professional Degree (MPD) program, the first course offered to interested professionals and fresh graduates alike, mainly focuses on skill development and education through a Data Sciences curriculum.
"Recognizing a shortage of qualified individuals to fill the growing need for data scientists, Microsoft consulted with education and industry partners to develop a curriculum concentrated on developing the skills and real world experience these new roles require," says Microsoft.
Data Sciences MPD Program
This specific MPD program features courses that educate incoming applicants on how they can visualize and implement data in Microsoft Excel and Power BI, as well as supplemental (and needed) skills in R and Python programming language, statistics and machine learning.
"At Microsoft, we believe the approach and tools used for learning need to continually evolve to meet the demands of our device-centric and data-driven world," said Alison Cunard, the general manager at Microsoft Learning Experiences. She added that in the current era of technology, "both technical and functional skills are becoming increasingly critical across all careers and vocations."
As such, not only will the courses offer educational talks online, hands-on activities and workshops are some of the other approaches the MPD program is utilizing through learning partners like Fast Lane, QA Ltd., DDLS, and NIIT Ltd.
The Data Sciences MPD program will be available on the massive open online course (MOOC) platform, edX, as a free initiative, though the certified accreditation from Microsoft (or MPD verified certificate) after each course concludes requires fees ranging from $25 to $99, depending on the classes taken.
The curriculum outlines three units — Fundamentals unit, Core Data Science unit and Applied Data Science unit — with various focuses to choose from in each category, and then finally, a capstone project requirement where "learners" showcase their acquired talents from the course by applying it to real-world scenarios that solve current data science problems.
"The project takes the form of a challenge on the Cortana Intelligence platform, where you will develop and deploy a solution that is tested and scored to determine your grade," describes its edX course outline.
Those who wish to further improve their skill sets and enhance their résumé-worthy credentials may visit the Microsoft Data Science Curriculum page on edX to apply for the program.