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Microsoft is making a great effort to make IT educational programs available online after it launched its Professional Degree program a few days ago, beginning with a curriculum on data science.

Hosted on edX.og, the Harvard- and MIT-founded nonprofit learning site, the program aims to offer an "employer-endorsed, university-caliber curriculum for professionals at any stage of their career," a Microsoft release said.

Data science is one of the most sought-after fields within IT right now, with more job openings than there are candidates, so this first curriculum aims to provide students with the skills they need to launch or supplement their careers.

"Learn data science fundamentals, key data science tools, and widely-used programming languages from industry and academic experts in this unique program created by Microsoft," edX's curriculum description reads. "But in collaboration with leading universities and employers, the Microsoft Data Science Curriculum will develop the skills employers value by teaching you to explore, transform, model, and visualize data, and to create the next generation of intelligent solutions."

The data science curriculum includes nine courses, which range from four to eight hours per course, including a final project that takes anywhere between six to ten hours to complete.

Students will gain skills such as exploring data with Excel, creating models and visualizations using Power BI, applying statistical methods to data, using R or Python to explore and transform data, building machine learning models, and more.

Broken up into four units, the curriculum's courses cost between US$ 50 to US$ 100 each, and students must pass the final Capstone Project to complete the curriculum.

While the move to make data science courses available to students around the world is a first for Microsoft, TechCrunch notes that Google and Udacity previously "have partnered to offer an Android nanodegree and other classes, and Amazon offers AWS training and certification for advanced technical skills, including a big data class."