Harvard Introduces MSc in Data Science

Starting in the second half of 2018, Harvard University will offer a new postgraduate degree – the MSc in Data Science. The Masters programme will be under the joint academic leadership of the faculties of Computer Science in the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and of Statistics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

The newly launched course will be administered through the Institute for Applied Computational Science (IACS) at SEAS.

The launch of the programme is a response to the substantial and continuing impact that data science is having on almost every scholarly discipline. The field of data science lies at the intersection of statistical methodology, computer science, and an array of areas of application. It is changing the way we think not only about business, but also about areas as diverse as government and politics, medicine and public health, journalism, sports, law, and education.

Beyond the fundamental computer science and statistics methodologies that underpin data science, the new Masters programme will educate the next generation of leaders about advanced topics such as the principles of experimental design, causal inference, visualisation, massive and distributed computing, and applications drawn from the breadth of Harvard University’s faculties.  The programme is also designed to provide an understanding of the broader legal, ethical, and societal context associated with data science.

The programme requirements include a technical core of four courses in data science, computer science, and statistics as well as a capstone research project. In addition, students will complete a new course on critical thinking in the domain of data science which will harness Harvard’s knowledge of the non-technical aspects of the field and how it currently impacts the world. Programme participants will also be able to take elective courses in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences and in Harvard’s graduate schools, including the Harvard Kennedy School of Government,  the T.H. Chan School of Public Health,  and Harvard Business School

The new data science curriculum has been developed by the computer science and statistics faculty at Harvard with input from industry experts. The Masters programme will be housed within the Institute for Applied Computational Science (IACS). The curriculum includes a capstone research project course that partners students with relevant stakeholders in academia, government, and companies in finance, technology, and healthcare. In addition to joining student and faculty visits to leading companies in California, New York, and Boston, Masters students will be able to attend on-campus technical talks by industry partners.

The new Masters programme fits into a broader initiative across Harvard University to promote learning and scholarship opportunities in the field of data science. In March 2017, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research announced the launch of the Harvard Data Science Initiative. The initiative brings together leading researchers, students, and practitioners to advance data science methodologies towards understanding unsolved problems through data by fostering research, training, course development, and community building. In addition to this new programme, a Master of Biomedical Informatics is offered by the Harvard Medical School and a Master of Health Data Science is offered by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Applications to the Master of Data Science degree programme will be accepted starting in September 2017 for entry into the programme in Fall 2018. The application deadline is 15 December 2017.

Source: Harvard University

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