Columbia statistics professor Tian Zheng will teach probability theory, among other key concepts in statistics.

One of the first universities to offer a degree in data science, Columbia University is now branching online with a new series, Data Science and Analytics in Context.

In partnership with non-profit education provider edX, a distinguished team of Columbia professors will cover the fundamentals of data science—statistics, machine learning and algorithms—and the technologies it has spawned, from automated translation to recommendation engines to personalized medicine to wirelessly connected devices.

With real world examples and interactive exercises, the professors will make key concepts memorable and easy to master. The program is designed for both those considering a career in data science and those curious about exploring what data science has to offer. Courses will focus on concepts rather than programming. The three-part series starts Dec. 14 and runs through April.  

“This course is perfect for anyone trying to understand how data-driven decisions are changing how we live,” said Patricia Culligan, a civil engineer who is associate director of the Data Science Institute and helped develop the series. “Our hope is that learners will gain fluency in the language of data analytics and use these lessons to advance their careers.”

Taught by Data Science Institute faculty, the courses feature data that has factored into original research, including on the polarization of American politics and the risk factors leading to pre-term births.  

Going beyond pie and bar charts, Columbia psychology professor James Curley will show how to effectively visualize data, including through the use of small multiples charts like the one pictured above.

Each course runs for five weeks and requires 7 to 10 hours of effort per week. Learners can opt to take each course at no cost or for Columbia-approved certification ($99 for courses one and two, and $149 for course three).

Columbia joined edX, a joint venture between Harvard University and MIT, with the launch of historian Eric Foner’s series on the Civil War in 2014. Data Science and Analytics in Context is Columbia’s second series to appear on edX, and the first edX XSeries to focus on data science. 

“The global demand for online programs in data science and analytics is massive and growing daily,” said Anant Agarwal, founder and CEO of edX. “This XSeries is unique in its design to appeal to a very broad audience. It is a great addition to the edX portfolio.”

Registration for all three courses: Data Science and Analytics in Context

— Kim Martineau