A new $37 million White House initiative designed to encourage data science work at American universities has kick-started some companies to assist in their goal of helping more people to get educated. One of these companies is education startup, Udacity and they have respond well, with a data science initiative of their very own. The Palo Alto-based company has just launched an inexpensive, comprehensive degree track program that allows anyone with basic computer science skills to become educated in the field of data science.

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The need for data scientists is becoming universal across industries and universities have started to sit up and take notice. Udacity is not the first company to offer a fully-online degree in data science.  Universities such as UC Berkeley, whilst looking to launch its own online Data Science Degree came to the conclusion that the MOOC providers, including Udacity were missing the required level of support.  While the MOOC providers offered quality content, Berkeley’s Dean of the School of Information informed VentureBeat, back in July, they did not offer enough feedback. After partnering with veteran edtech startup, 2U, UC Berkeley launched its online master’s program in data science in back July.  There is one small problem, though. The online master’s program offered by 2U and Berkeley comes with a slightly excessive price tag of $60,000.

In contrast to this, Udacity will not only be offering a comprehensive data science degree, but a degree at a substantially lower price bracket. Courses are free for anyone to take, but also give students the option to pay (starting at a couple of hundred dollars per month) if they want access to more instructional support.   The first class is called “Introduction to Hadoop and MapReduce” and is available now.   The other selling point for Udacity’s new online data science degree program is; the classes are co-developed between Udacity and “leading industry experts.”  Udacity built this particular course in collaboration with Cloudera, the veteran enterprise data management company. In the course, Cloudera experts and Udacity instructors start off with “What is Big Data?” and then work through the fundamental principles of Hadoop and MapReduce.

In January, the company will begin offering its full course experience and then continuing to add credit classes, launched this summer.   The company’s Big Data and Data Science courses will include feedback and hands-on student projects, along with career mentoring. This means that going forward; Udacity’s program will start to look a lot more like 2U’s collaboration with Berkeley and with industry experts co-developing the courses, not only will students have an opportunity to receive an affordable education, but they could have a better chance at landing a lucrative career.

[Image via udacity]

SOURCE: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/14/education-startup-udacity-bets-that-business-can-fill-the-need-for-more-data-scientists/