HarvardX Data Science Certificate: Worth It? (Read This First!)


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You might be on the search for a data science certificate and wondering if the HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate is worth it.

I’ve researched the certificate and here’s the short answer:

The HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate is worth it. Made for data science beginners, the HarvardX Data Science certificate is worth getting for its 208 hours of in-depth data science content, credibility, hands-on projects with real-world case studies using job-ready data science skills for only USD $991.

Your next thoughts might be: why would you say that this certificate is worth it?

Well, here are the 3 main reasons why the HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate is worth it:

  1. The HarvardX Data Science Certificate Provides You With a Flexible and Self-Paced Learning Schedule
  2. The HarvardX Data Science Certificate Teaches You Job-Ready Data Science Skills
  3. The HarvardX Data Science Certificate Gives You Exposure to Real-World Case Studies

Curious to know more about how each of these reasons contributes to why the certificate is worth it + FAQs?

Read on for more information!

1. The HarvardX Data Science Certificate Provides You With a Flexible and Self-Paced Learning Schedule

By taking on an online certificate such as the HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate on EdX, you’ll be able to control your learning schedule!

Here’s why:

You’ll be learning through a series of flexible and self-paced courses to complete the certificate.

Check out the schedule for yourself in this summary table of the certificate schedule I compiled below:

Course TitleTime Commitment Per WeekExpected Completion Time
1Data Science: R Basics2-4 hours8 weeks
2Data Science: Visualization1-2 hours6 weeks
3Data Science: Probability1-2 hours6 weeks
4Data Science: Inference and Modeling2-4 hours8 weeks
5Data Science: Productivity Tools1-2 hours6 weeks
6Data Science: Wrangling1-2 hours6 weeks
7Data Science: Linear Regression2-4 hours6 weeks
8Data Science: Machine Learning2-4 hours8 weeks
9Data Science: Capstone15-20 hours2 weeks
Total56 weeks or 1 year

With so many hours of content to go through, there’s a really great benefit of having the flexibility to complete courses in your own time, compared to a fixed night class in college.

In fact, these flexible courses can really benefit 2 groups of people:

  1. Students
  2. Workers with a 9-5 job

Students: Squeeze in these flexible courses in between your college classes or at whichever time intervals you deem fit! You might also consider completing the course faster if you’re on a longer break.

Workers with a 9-5 job: You aren’t left out too! You’ll appreciate the self-paced nature of the certificate, where you can learn on the go if you’re on the way back from your commute.

You won’t be able to do so much learning if you’re attending a regular college degree with such fixed timings instead of an online professional certificate.

A data science bootcamp might also be a possible option with some flexibility too, but nothing beats having a fully online self-paced certificate.

If you’re planning on learning data science, you can boost your learning with sources of content other than from this certificate.

Some examples of these include Discord servers, subreddits, and data science apps.

2. The HarvardX Data Science Certificate Teaches You Job-Ready Data Science Skills

Another great reason to get started with learning through the HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate is the skills it teaches you!

If you’re thinking of becoming a data scientist, I’m sure you’re looking to pick up the best skills for the job.

And the HarvardX Data Science Certificate is a great way to acquire them in a structured and systematic way!

Just take a look at this summary table of skills and tools you’ll learn below:

Course TitleWhy Is This Course Important?Tools You’ll LearnSkills You’ll Learn
1Data Science: R BasicsAn essential tool in data scienceR ProgrammingProgramming, Data Analysis
2Data Science: VisualizationTo convince stakeholders with visualsggplot2Data Visualization, Design
3Data Science: ProbabilityTo test for significant results in your analysisStatistics, Data Analysis
4Data Science: Inference and ModelingTo understand the basics behind predictionsR ProgrammingStatistics, Data Analysis, Machine Learning
5Data Science: Productivity ToolsUseful tools to boost workflow in data scienceR markdown, RStudio, Unix/Linux, GitHubVersion Control, Automation
6Data Science: WranglingTo access data sources and format themR Programming, dplyr, Regular Expressions (regex)Data Cleaning, Data Transformation, Web Scraping, String Processing
7Data Science: Linear RegressionA common model that can be applied in most scenariosR ProgrammingStatistics, Data Analysis
8Data Science: Machine LearningA good introduction to commonly used algorithmsR ProgrammingMachine Learning, Statistics, Model Evaluation
9Data Science: CapstoneTo put your skills to the test in a project-based situationR ProgrammingProgramming, Data Analysis, Data Visualization, Design, Machine Learning, Version Control, Automation, Statistics, Model Evaluation

Many of the data science skills are even used in other fields within data science such as data analytics and data engineering.

Curious to learn more on those areas instead?

I’d recommend the following:

Here are the main tools you’ll be learning throughout the courses in the certificate:

Based on my previous experience as a bioinformatics data scientist, these are some of the best tools used in data science!

Here’s why the tools you’ll learn in the HarvardX Data Science Certificate are good choices:

R Programming: R programming is the 3rd most used language in data science.

As you can see from the graph above, R is a pretty popular tool!

For some inspiration for you to learn R, you can take a look at how R has been used for data science in healthcare in my article here.

Thinking of just learning R? You’ll need to know how long that would take first!

RStudio: RStudio is the only major Integrated Development Environment (IDE) used among data scientists for programming in R. 79% of R programmers use RStudio to code in R.

Github: 35% of data science organizations use GitHub as one of their data science tools.

GitHub is an amazing version control platform that I commonly used in my data science work!

Here’s how my GitHub profile looks like, where I upload all my codes:

Unix/Linux: Linux shell scripting is commonly used to automate scripts and speed up data science workflows.

Here’s another additional aspect I love about this certificate in learning new skills:

The certificate includes an application capstone project!

Capstone Project

If you haven’t heard about the benefits of completing a data science project, you really should!

Here are some benefits of learning data science skills through the project in the HarvardX Data Science Certificate:

  1. Brings together all learned skills in a real application
  2. Increased confidence in data science skills
  3. Provides a method for recruiters to view your experience in your data science portfolio

Now, this is what makes the HarvardX Data Science Certificate so worth it!

However, unlike the IBM Data Science Professional Certificate, this certificate does not cover the most popular data science programming language out there, Python.

This is something I found rather disappointing as many machine learning libraries can only be accessed using Python.

If you’re interested in learning Python instead, I’d recommend trying the IBM Data Science Professional Certificate.

Nonetheless, the R programming learned in the HarvardX Data Science Certificate is also great for data science!

3. The HarvardX Data Science Certificate Gives You Exposure to Real-World Case Studies

In every online data science certificate, you should always ensure that you’ll get enough hands-on practice.

In the HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate, you’ll receive plenty of such hands-on practice through real-world case studies!

Check out the table below for a list of case studies for each course in the certificate:

Course TitleCase Study
1Data Science: R BasicsAnalyzing Crime in the United States
2Data Science: VisualizationVisualizing world health, economics, and infectious disease trends in the United States
3Data Science: Probability
4Data Science: Inference and ModelingCreating a simplified election forecast model for the United States 2016 elections
5Data Science: Productivity Tools
6Data Science: Wrangling
7Data Science: Linear Regression
8Data Science: Machine LearningBuilding a movie recommendation system
9Data Science: CapstoneFinal data analysis project

Nothing beats real hands-on experience on real-world projects!

If you’re looking to sharpen your data science skills, these real-world case studies will help a lot.

Upon completion of the HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate, you’ll be armed with 5 experiences in real-world case studies in data science.

These experiences are what make this certificate really worth it!

Related Questions

How Long Does It Take to Complete the HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate?

It will take 208 hours or 1 year to complete the HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate. The completion time may vary depending on previous programming knowledge, learning speeds, and time commitment. Although EdX suggests completing the certificate in 1 year and 5 months, most can finish earlier.

The HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate is content-heavy and requires a lot of commitment and time to learn.

Here’s a summary of how long you’ll need to complete the certificate:

Course TitleExpected Hours to CompleteExpected Completion Time
1Data Science: R Basics32 hours8 weeks
2Data Science: Visualization12 hours6 weeks
3Data Science: Probability12 hours6 weeks
4Data Science: Inference and Modeling32 hours8 weeks
5Data Science: Productivity Tools12 hours6 weeks
6Data Science: Wrangling12 hours6 weeks
7Data Science: Linear Regression24 hours6 weeks
8Data Science: Machine Learning32 hours8 weeks
9Data Science: Capstone40 hours2 weeks
Total208 hours56 weeks or 1 year

Being a data scientist requires time and experience to learn the necessary skills so you should expect to learn them over a longer period of time.

Is the HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate Hard?

The HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate is hard. The certificate provides in-depth coverage of data science fundamentals that beginners might hard. The certificate has 9 content-heavy courses that

The HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate has 208 hours of content and 9 heavy courses to go through.

If you’re thinking of getting into data science, things might be hard at first but I’m certain that with some effort and pushing through, you’ll also make it!

If you’re looking for a simpler data science program that doesn’t follow a certification program, I recommend trying out DataCamp!

Here are 2 alternatives you can try:

  1. Data Scientist with R
  2. Data Scientist with Python

Do check out my article on DataCamp Subscriptions before you buy if you’re interested!

How Much Does the Harvard Data Science Professional Certificate Cost?

The HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate costs $991 USD. However, this pricing may vary depending on promotions on EdX. The certificate pricing is typically reduced to $792.80 USD during promotional sales.

The starting cost of the HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate might seem quite steep to you but if you consider how this certificate will last you a year long, you’ll realize it’s really fairly-priced!

Here’s a comparison between the costs of the HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate and college degrees:

HarvardX Data Science Professional CertificateBachelor’s College Degree in the United States
Cost$991 USD$10,000 to $20,000 USD
Program Time1 year4 years

As you can see the cost of the HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate is much lesser than taking a college degree in the US!

If you’re looking for a cheaper option to get into data science, I’d recommend getting the IBM Data Science Professional Certificate on Coursera instead.

Is the Harvard Data Science Professional Certificate Free?

The HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate is not free. The entire certificate costs $991 USD. However, the courses within the certificate can be audited individually for free. Auditing the courses does not include certificates, graded assignments and exams, and only provide a limited time to access resources.

If you find that the certificate is too expensive, you can also consider taking the audit track to access the resource for free.

Here’s a screenshot of the landing page when you select an individual course in the certificate:

However, you won’t be issued any certificate upon completion and would only have a limited time of 1-2 months to access all the content.

My recommendation: If you’re really serious in learning data science properly, I’d still recommend going for the full paid certificate, if you can afford it.

Final Thoughts

Learning data science can be tough but it can be made much smoother through the HarvardX Data Science Professional Certificate.

If this post has been been useful for you and you’d like to make a purchase, do use my affiliate link here, it helps to support the site.

Thanks for reading!

Some Professional Certificates You Might Like:

Sources

  1. https://www.anaconda.com/state-of-data-science-2021
  2. https://www.jetbrains.com/lp/devecosystem-2020/r/
  3. https://research.collegeboard.org/trends/college-pricing/report-archive

My Favorite Learning Resources:

Here are some of the learning resources I’ve personally found to be useful as a data analyst and I hope you find them useful too!

These may contain affiliate links and I earn a commission from them if you use them.

However, I’d honestly recommend them to my juniors, friends, or even my family!

My Recommended Learning Platforms!

Learning PlatformWhat’s Good About the Platform?
1CourseraCertificates are offered by popular learning institutes and companies like Google & IBM
2DatacampComes with an integrated coding platform, great for beginners!
3PluralsightStrong focus on data skills, taught by industry experts
4StratascratchLearn faster by doing real interview coding practices for data science

My Recommended Online Courses + Books!

TopicOnline CoursesBooks
1Data AnalyticsGoogle Data Analytics Professional Certificate
2Data ScienceIBM Data Science Professional Certificate
3ExcelExcel Skills for Business Specialization
4PythonPython for Everybody SpecializationPython for Data Analysis
5SQLIntroduction to SQLSQL: The Ultimate Beginners Guide: Learn SQL Today
6TableauData Visualization with TableauPractical Tableau
7Power BIGetting Started with Power BI DesktopBeginning Microsoft Power BI
8R ProgrammingData Science: Foundations using R SpecializationLearning R
9Data VisualizationBig Book of Dashboards

To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations, check out this resource I’ve put together for you here.

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