Introduction – Need for the present courseIn the present world, data is becoming increasingly valuable. Decisions from the corporate sector to the various areas of government and administration are becoming data-driven. As such, there is a growing demand for professionals who have skills in computing, statistics, and mathematics, a combination of skills broadly labeled as Data Science. Thus employment opportunities in the sector are expanding quickly.
Course componentsThe course has overall three levels – Foundational level, Diploma level and Degree level. A learner can enter at either the Foundational level or the Diploma level (currently only Foundational level entry is permitted). The important point to note here is that a learner can exit at any of the three levels. Thus if your aim is to acquire some basic knowhow of the subject then you can enter at the Foundational level. If you exit after this level, you will receive a Foundational Certificate from Centre for Continuing Education, IIT Madras. Those who are interested in continuing into the Diploma course can do so. If you exit at the Diploma level then you will receive a Diploma in Programming and/or a Diploma in Data Science from IIT Madras. After completing the Diploma level, a learner can proceed to the degree level after the completion of which he/she will receive a BSc in Programming and Data Science. All these three levels will together take a minimum of three years.
The course content will be provided to the students in the form of video lectures and problems. There will also be periodic assessments. The weekly assessments can be attempted online while the quizzes (three quizzes in each term) and the term-end examinations will have to be done in person at the designated exam centers. For more details on syllabus and assessments (along with the marking pattern and the list of designated exam centers) please refer to the brochure (provided as a pdf in the Attachments section).
EntryThere are two modes of entry into the course – regular entry and diploma only entry. In the regular entry, the learner has to enter into the foundational course. There is a qualifying process also in which four weeks of coursework is provided in the form of video lectures and weekly assessments. After the completion of four weeks, there is a qualifying exam. Passing in this exam will mean that you can now enter the course.
On the other hand, the diploma only entry implies that a learner can enter the diploma stage only. Unlike the regular entrants, he/she does not need to go through the foundational courses. So this mode is preferable for those who already have a sound knowledge of the basics. However diploma only entrants cannot proceed to the degree level.
FeesThe fee structure also depends on the level in which a learner is enrolled and also the number of credits in the paper. The fee per credit for foundational level courses is Rs 1,000 (total of Rs 32,000 for the entire foundational course). For diploma/degree level courses the fee is Rs 2,500 for each credit (Rs 1,10,000 for both diplomas and 1,00,000 for the degree level). There are fee waivers for learners belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as well as Persons with Disabilities (at least 40% disability). On the other hand, failure to complete a paper in one attempt will result in additional fees. You can refer to the brochure (Pg 9) for more on this.
Important datesThe opening date for applications through regular entry will be released soon on the course website www.onlinedegree.iitm.ac.in and aspiring students are requested to check the website. The closing date for applications is 15th September 2020. However, the receipt of applications can be closed before this date also since 2,50,000 is the maximum number of applications that can be received. Then from October onwards, the qualifying courses will be released with the actual qualifying exam being held from 20th to 22nd November. Then finally the Foundational Level Batch 1 will begin from 4th January 2021.
ConclusionThe course is said to be the first online BSc degree program in Programming and Data Science. Since this is provided by one of the foremost technical institutions in the country (which also has a long experience with online courses) the students interested in the field of programming and data science will definitely find this course worthy of consideration. Do refer to the brochure (provided as a pdf in the Attachments section of this article) or to the course website www.onlinedegree.iitm.ac.in for more detailed information with regard to the course. You can also drop your questions in the Comments section of this article.
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I think this would be a great opportunity for the students to go for these courses being managed by reputed institutions like IIT, Madras. Another good thing about this offer is that it is modular and there is no compulsion for the student to stay with it for a long time of three years. In our country, there are so many students who are not getting admission in good and reputed institutions and are deprived of these learnings for which only the highly meritorious students get an opportunity.