Online Course Highlight #2 – Introduction to Data Science

Another popular MOOC course, offered by Coursera, is Introduction to Data Science, taught by Bill Howe, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering and director of research for scalable data analytics at the University of Washington. Dr. Howe has won awards from Microsoft for his contributions in scientific data management.


“Join the data revolution!” the website page bellows. “Introduce yourself to the basics of data science and leave armed with practical experience extracting value from big data.” Introduction to Data Science focuses on:

  • SQL and NoSQL solutions for massive data management
  • Algorithms for data mining
  • Basic statistical modeling, including linear and non-linear regression
  • Data manipulation at scale
  • Analytics
  • Communicating results


Incoming students should have basic programming experience, including Python, R, and SQL and familiarity with databases. At the University of Washington, this course is geared toward undergraduate students looking to expand their skill set to include working with large datasets to perform predictive analytics.

The eight-week course includes:

  • Four programming assignments: two in Python, one in SQL, and one in R.
  • Two open-ended assignments graded by peer assessment: one in visualization using Tableau and one that involves participation in a Kaggle competition.
  • Two optional assignments: an open-ended, real-world corporate project and one involving processing a large dataset on AWS.

The expected workload is eight to 10 hours per week. The class consists of 10-minute lecture video segments, weekly reading, and quizzes. There are no formal exams. Students who complete the course receive a formal Statement of Accomplishment.

The Introduction to Data Science course is meant to be a precursor to the University of Washington’s three-course Certificate in Data Science program. The certificate program is taught on campus and includes classroom-based instruction by data scientists from Microsoft.

For more information, see Introduction to Data Science.