June 23, 2014

The bad news about the University of California at Berkeley's new Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) program is that it's expensive. Really expensive. The good news is that since data scientists are in such high demand, graduates are pretty much guaranteed a job with a generous income.

"If you can claim those skills right now in the Bay Area, you can work for any company you want and basically write your own salary," says Steve Weber, a professor at UC Berkeley's School of Information.

The 18-month MIDS course is quite new, having just completed its inaugural semester four weeks ago. The first class had just 28 students. The second has roughly the same number (28 to 30), with the third group rising to 45 students.

Oh, and the program is offered exclusively online.

This is "a function of the fact that we don't have a lot of physical space in our building, as we have an existing Master's and PhD program," says Weber, who attributes the online-only idea to School of Information dean AnnaLee Saxenian.

"Since it's a data science degree, the kind of people we're going to appeal to may be more comfortable than the average person with doing a Master's degree online," says Weber. "Many [students] are working professionals, so we can offer this degree in a flexible way, and they can take their classes in the late afternoons or evenings."

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