My Experience Completing the Microsoft Professional Program Certificate in Data Science
Earlier this year, Microsoft announced an interesting new educational track designed to help people grow skills in the area of data science. Originally titled “Microsoft Professional Degree”, they later updated the name to the current “Microsoft Professional Program in Data Science” perhaps to lower the emphasis of the certification and instead highlight the value of the skills learned over the course of the program.
As Microsoft was developing the material and solidifying the content, they asked a set of Microsoft employees to complete the 10 courses and provide detailed feedback in an expedited fashion as part of a pilot program to help improve the program. I was lucky to be one of the participants of the pilot program and completed the program in August 2016.
The program consists of 10 required courses to complete the program, with 2 or more course options for four of the courses (example: For the 5th course, you can take “Intro to R” or “Intro to Python”). Each of the courses is hosted on www.edx.org, an outstanding online learning platform that supports numerous teaching styles as you will learn over the course of the program. The courses are taught from a variety of industry professionals, MVPs, Microsoft employees, and college professors. The full list of courses can be found here:
Each course costs $99 for a verified certificate, with the total cost of the 10 courses equaling $990. When I went through the program in 2016, the prices were a bit lower, with each course varying in cost between $25 - $99, with the total cost of the 10 courses I completed equaling $467. There is an option to audit the courses for free, but you will not obtain the certificate and will not complete the official program, but can complete 100% of the videos, labs, and quizzes from the program.
The time commitment:
While this will vary greatly depending on your background, interest, and motivation to complete the course, it is possible to get consumed with the courses and complete them very rapidly. I completed the first 9 courses in roughly 7 weeks, followed by the final project being open for 6 weeks. In the first week of the final project (course #10), I had a score that I felt was sufficient to safely complete the program, but continued to work on the final project for the entire 6 weeks because I found it so interesting.
Overall, the program was an excellent experience and I highly recommend it to anyone in the data field. I was able to cover content that I haven’t studied in years while exploring new areas that I’ve been wanting to invest in, but haven’t made a priority until now. I have a much better broad understanding of the topics covered in the course and have already started to leverage them in my customer environments.
Let me know if you have any questions or feedback on the courses and program.
Sam Lester (MSFT)