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Preparing for Big Data Careers at Harvard University

Harvard University appears in our ranking of the 15 Most Affordable Master’s in Data Science Online.

Although the only programs at Harvard University with the title of “data science” in it are an online Professional Graduate Certificate in Data Science and a Master’s in Data Science, at the undergraduate level students are permitted to craft their own degrees of study, so it is entirely possible to create a degree in quantum business statistics, data analysis in 21st-century nonprofit organizations, or just about anything else the student can devise to embark upon a career in big data.

The Data Science Certificate is offered through Harvard’s Extension School and requires no application.  A background in or knowledge of statistics and programming (especially Python) is strongly encouraged.  The four required online courses must be completed within three years.\

The mostly-online Master’s Degree Program in Data Science requires the completion of twelve courses and a capstone project.  The official name of the degree that is granted is the Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, field: Data Science.

About Harvard Univesity

Harvard University is the oldest private university in the New World. Since 1636, it has striven to be the best in every facet of the education it provides. Currently, U.S. News and World Report ranks Harvard University No. 2 among national universities. Harvard Business School is No. 1 overall in the country among other business schools. The university as a whole is No. 2 on the list of “Best Value Schools” and No. 14 among “Most Innovative Schools.” The university is so prestigious that it ranks in the top 10 globally in at least two dozen categories. There are 13 colleges and numerous research organizations associated with Harvard University. Because the school is so selective in its admission, its enrollment at the main campus is quite small, just about 6,000, despite the massive size of its campus, which is more than 5,000 acres. The small size of the student body creates a familial atmosphere at the university, particularly since 1999 when Harvard University first became fully co-educational. Counting all the campuses, the enrollment is slightly more than 36,000.

Harvard University Accreditations

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, bestowed regional accreditation upon Harvard University, and the most recent assessment was in 2009. Because such accreditation is awarded every 10 years, 2019 will be Harvard University’s assessment year. Among the 13 colleges and myriad separate departments, there are dozens of individual accreditations awarded by almost an equal number of accrediting bodies. Brevity precludes listing them all here. The university’s website, along with college-ranking websites, lists all of them, and curious students should peruse them for information.

Harvard University Application Requirements

Harvard University is one of the most selective institutions on the planet, accepting only one in 20 prospective students. Students must complete either the SAT or the ACT, along with separate subject-based SATs, provide full transcripts for every secondary school they attended, a lengthy teacher report, mid-year assessments, and final assessments from their senior years. Students may provide, if they wish, results from any advanced placement classes and any associated advanced placement examinations.

International students must provide similar documentation from their home countries, such as German students providing transcripts from the Gymnasium they attended and the scores they achieved on das Abitur. Transfer students must include reports not only from their teachers but also the respective deans of the departments in which they studied at their previous institutions.

In most cases, the Graduate Record Examination, the Graduate Management Admission Test, or similar test are required. Students should check with the department in question before applying. Other requirements for graduate school admission include full transcripts, statements of purpose, resumes, and letters of recommendation. Certain departments also require specific items, so students should check with them to ensure they forget nothing on their applications.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Undergraduate tuition at Harvard University is $46,340 annually. Room and board come to $17,160, and assorted other costs, like books and travel, come to roughly $10,000, making the total annual cost between $75,000 and $80,000.

Graduate students pay their tuition in a tiered structure that reduces as they progress. Each of the graduate schools at Harvard University has its own tier of tuition, but they are all similar. The School of Arts and Sciences, for example, charges $46,384 to begin with and $12,062 annually for third and fourth-year study, which is often concomitant with doctoral studies.

In all cases, both graduate and undergraduate, the university’s health plan costs between $3,000 and $5,000 for students who are not covered under their parents’ plans.

Because a quarter of a million dollars over four years is a staggering sum for almost everyone, the university has earmarked a sizable chunk of its $37.1 billion endowment for financial aid. In fact, almost all students whose parents make less than $65,000 a year wind up paying nothing at all. The aid comes in the form of loans, scholarships, and grants. Graduate students, in particular, have a dizzying array of grants and scholarships available, some of which include being a teaching assistant or associate professor.

In any event, all students seeking financial aid must begin with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form encompasses all of a student’s income and assets, including those of the student’s parents, and the university uses this form to determine a student’s eligibility. In addition to need-based aid, merit-based scholarships are also part of the gamut of financial aid available. Many of these scholarships require students to fit certain criteria, perform specific actions or services, or both. The Office of Financial Aid will have complete information on any and all options, so students should avail themselves of that office’s expertise.

On the subject of loans, there are two general kinds: subsidized and unsubsidized. A subsidized loan is one where no interest accrues during the student’s period of study even if the student progresses directly to graduate school after graduation. An unsubsidized loan accrues interest during the same period, and even the interest accrues interest on itself.

Harvard University has delivered top-flight education to students from around the world ever since the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony established its hallowed halls nearly 400 years ago. With an endowment that is bigger than the GDP of some countries, it is supremely qualified to continue doing so.


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