Harvard launches data science master’s degree program

New degree aims to train students in growing field of data science

Harvard will offer a Master of Science (SM) degree in Data Science beginning in fall of 2018.

Harvard will offer a Master of Science (SM) degree in Data Science beginning in fall of 2018. The new degree, 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), will train students in the rapidly growing field of data science.

Prospective students will apply to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for admission to the program, which will be administered through the Institute for Applied Computational Science (IACS) at SEAS.

Data science lies at the intersection of statistical methodology, computer science, and an array of areas of application and is having a substantial impact on almost every scholarly discipline and changing how we think about business, 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 master’s program will educate the next generation of leaders to be knowledgeable about advanced topics such as the principles of experimental design, causal inference, visualization, massive and distributed computing, and applications drawn from the breadth of Harvard’s faculties. The program is also designed to provide an understanding of the broader legal, ethical and societal context associated with data science.

Program 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 with data science will harness Harvard’s knowledge of the non-technical aspects of data science and how it impacts the world.  Program 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 master’s program will be housed within the Institute for Applied Computational Science (IACS). The curriculum includes a capstone research project course that partners students with academia, government, and companies in finance, technology and health care. In addition to joining IACS-led student/faculty visits to leading companies in California, New York, and Boston, master’s students will be able to attend on-campus technical talks by industry partners.

The new master’s program fits into a broader initiative across Harvard University to promote learning and scholarship in 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 toward understanding unsolved problems through data by fostering research, training, course development, and community building. In addition to this new program, 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 program will be accepted starting in September 2017. The application deadline is December 15, 2017.

To learn more about the new master’s program or to apply, please visit the Master of Science in Data Science homepage

Press Contact

Leah Burrows | 617-496-1351 |