Celebrating the first Graduates of the Data Sciences Institute’s Professional Data Science Certificate Program

by Sara Elhawash

In an ever-evolving data driven world, data science has become a cornerstone of innovation, decision-making and problem solving across industries. As we increasingly rely on data to steer our businesses, governments and societies, skills in data science are in high demand. 

The Data Sciences Institute (DSI) at the University of Toronto is addressing this demand by offering training in Data Science through the Data Science Certificate program. This spring, DSI celebrates the graduation of the first cohort of students that are completing the certificate. 

First-year graduates will soon receive their certificates, ready to apply their job-ready skills. Yongran Yan, Research Technician, University Health Network, shares her transformative experiences with the program and her excitement for the future. “Without prior knowledge about data science, the knowledge and skills that I’ve learnt from this program are invaluable. In addition to learning knowledge from our instructors, the guest speakers coming from different fields in the industry have provided me with insights on the potential applications of data science. As a cancer researcher, I am also excited to see how my data science skills will help me explore more aspects of my research topic.”

Professor Rohan Alexander, Faculty of Information and Department of Statistical Sciences, Faculty of Arts & Science, serves as the academic lead of the certificate. Reflecting on its growth, he says, “The DSI Data Science Certificate is a truly exceptional program that combines core courses to establish a solid foundation in data science. Designed for individuals with no prior expertise in data science, this program empowers students to thrive in data-driven fields. As we celebrate the program and our upcoming graduates, we are confident that they will be fully prepared to apply their newly acquired skills and leverage their professional networks to make a significant impact in the industry.”

The certificate provides flexibility, allowing learners to choose a single course to improve their skills in a specific area or earn a full certificate by taking six of the eight courses available. The curriculum ensures that learners master core competencies in foundational data science, including SQL, R, and Python, while gaining hands-on experience through real-world case studies. 

In addition, the certificate presents the opportunity to learn from private-sector experts during case studies. This year, we had various experts, including Ajit Desai, Principal Data Scientist at the Bank of Canada; Richard Wintle, Assistant Director at The Centre for Applied Genomics, SickKids Hospital; Zia Babar, Director, Cloud Engineering at PwC Canada. The case study component offers learners valuable insights into the professional world of data science analytics. 

Looking ahead, in response to the interest from past participants, DSI will be offering three programming courses in May to July: Introduction to Unix Shell, Git, and GitHub, Introduction to R, and Introduction to Python. All courses require no data science experience, making them accessible to a wide range of students.  

What previous participants had to say

Here’s what some had to say: 

“I highly recommended this course to beginner and intermediate users. The instructor starts from the beginning through the complex data interpretation process,” says one participant.

“I really liked the live coding format and being able to follow along with the instructor, which I think is the best way to learn coding. I really appreciated how well organized and well presented the material was and how supportive the instructor and TA were of students, always taking the time to stay and answer questions after every class,” says another participant.

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