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Getting a Free Data Science Education

MOOCAs the field of Data Science continues to heat up fast, there are an increasing number of options to gain an education in this area. Many traditional colleges and universities are beginning to offer data science degree programs. But the educational option that’s exciting a lot of people is the MOOC (massive open online course) through sites such as Coursera, edX, Udacity and others. I’ve decided to put together a pseudo data science degree program below that includes only free MOOC offerings (there may be a charge for a certificate if you want one). You won’t have an official degree if you go through all the course material, but you will acquire a lot of practical knowledge designed to retool yourself and gain employment in the field.

Lower-Division Courses
Data Science 101 – Statistics One
Data Science 102 – Computing for Data Analysis
Data Science 103 – Data Analysis
Data Science 104 – Introduction to Data Science

Upper-Division Courses
Data Science 201 – Machine Learning I
Data Science 202 – Machine Learning II
Data Science 203 – Neural Networks for Machine Learning

Graduate Courses
Data Science 301 – Learning from Data (Caltech course CS101)
Data Science 302 – Machine Learning III (MIT course 6.867)

Free Data Science Books

To go along with the coursework, there also are a number of excellent free books available:

Mining of Massive Datasets
Bayesian Reasoning and Machine Learning (pdf)
Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms
Gaussian Processes for Machine Learning (pdf)
The Elements of Statistical Learning
Introduction to Machine Learning (pdf)
Think Bayes (pdf)

As the interest in data science continues to grow, and as the shortage in talent becomes apparent, the timing is excellent to retool yourself and climb aboard the data science gravy train. If you know of any other good educational resources for data science and machine learning, please leave a note for all of us.






  1. IBM offers big data and cloud education courses at Big Data University. Plus these course are “free,” not a word we often associate with IBM . You can check them out at:

  2. Great collection of data science resources. Thanks for putting this together. I’m strongly believe in the value of data science education and giving people as many formats to learn as possible, so I’ve started a tutoring marketplace specifically for data science and programming. If you’re interested, check it out at

  3. Thank you. This is very helpful for my own learning. I’ve worked in R&D on theoretical mathematics data analysis. This definitely helps me to brush up my skill sets.

  4. Sadie St. Lawrence says:

    Thank you for putting this list of classes together, I found it very helpful. I have a background in behavioral neuroscience research and am interested in getting into the field of data science. However, I was wondering if taking these MOOC classes would be enough to get me into the field or if I need to get a degree from an accredited university in something more closely related to data science?

    • Sadie, glad you appreciated the list of educational resources for data science. Please look into the new Data Science Specialization series of 9 courses offered on Coursera and sponsored by Johns Hopkins University.

      You raise a good question about the need for formal education. This topic is currently being discussed in a LinkedIn group and so far there is no consensus. Certainly, an advanced degree in a related field like statistics would go very far in securing a job in the field, but that route takes a lot of time and the demand for data scientists is now! I’d say, start with the Johns Hopkins series to get your feet wet and see where you go from there.

    • Sadie St. Lawrence says:

      Thanks Daniel! I’m happy to hear I’m not the only one with this question. I will defiantly will start off with the Johns Hopkins series then.

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