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HSE University Launches Russia’s First Online English-Taught Master's Programme

HSE University Launches Russia’s First Online English-Taught Master's Programme


This academic year, HSE University will begin admissions to its new online Master's programme in Data Science, which will be offered on Coursera, the world’s leading online learning platform. The application deadline for admission to the programme is December 6. Courses begin in February. Upon the successful completion of the programme, students will receive a Master’s degree from HSE University, which is internationally recognized.

Why Data Science?

Over the last few decades, digital technology has grown exponentially. This has led to a natural increase in the amount of digital data, and Data Science, as a field that analyses data, is also rapidly expanding. In turn, the demand for highly qualified professionals in the field has also increased: many companies across the globe have opened Data Scientists positions. According to IBM estimations, the number of jobs for data professionals in the U.S. will reach 2.7 million by 2020.

‘To get a degree in Data Science, people often enrol in professional retraining courses,’ says Evgeny Sokolov, member of the Academic Council of the Master of Data Science programme and Deputy Head of the Big Data and Information Retrieval School.

It has become clear that we need to provide the students with comprehensive knowledge that will allow them to solve complex tasks and develop unconventional approaches when they enter the labour market. Enrolling in a master’s programme is the best way to master the necessary skills needed for this new profession.

The online programme’s curriculum has been developed by HSE University lecturers jointly with the industry experts, including those from partner companies, such as Yandex, JetBrains, and others. The project has involved teachers from the Yandex Data Analysis School and teachers from the Data Culture project, which began at HSE University in 2017 and has already attracted a lot of professionals in the industry.

What Will the Students Learn?

Students of the programme will:

  Receive mathematical training (in accordance with the standards of Russian higher education);

  Acquire programming skills and basic algorithm knowledge in addition to mastering the culture of effective coding;

  Develop a deep understanding of data science and contemporary machine learning methods;

  Gain experience with solving real problems in data analysis;

  Develop research skills.

‘This means that our graduates, on the one hand, will be able to apply for Junior Data Scientist positions, while, on the other hand, having solid qualifications in mathematics and algorithms, as well as a knowledge of the most recent achievements in Data Science,’  says Evgeny Sokolov.

The programme includes three tracks. Two of them prepare students for careers in business: Data Scientist and Machine Learning Engineer. The third track, Researcher in Data Science, is designed for those interested in academic careers. Students of the programme will be expected to pick a track in the middle of the second semester.

The programme curriculum consists of 32 courses divided into four blocks: mathematics, programming, future profession, and projects. Regardless of the track, most of the programme is based on project learning. The language of instruction is English.

Why Online?

eLearning is a global trend today with HSE University at its forefront among Russian universities. Two million subscribers have registered for courses on Coursera offered by HSE University, and, according to Evgenia Kulik, HSE Director for eLearning, over half of them are registered for courses offered by the Faculty of Computer Science. Over the past five years, the university has created 92 courses in six subject areas, over 40 of which are English-taught. HSE has awarded over 85,000 certificates to platform users.

Now the University is expanding its online presence with an online master’s programme.

Sergey Roshchin, HSE Vice Rector

HSE is expanding as a global university, and the development of such programmes is a great opportunity for us to provide quality education to students in different countries all over the world. The Master of Data Science programme allows students to gain in-demand skills in almost all areas that are experiencing a transformation with big data. We’re thrilled that Coursera is our strategic partner in this new degree.

‘Demographic challenges coupled with a high automation rate will have a significant impact on Russia’s labour market in the coming years, creating the need for a workforce equipped with the most high-demand skills,’ says Dil Sidhu, Chief Content Officer at Coursera. ‘We’re excited to expand our partnership with HSE to offer this highly accessible and affordable degree in a job-relevant field like data science. Together with HSE University, we can prepare more citizens for the future of work.’

Webinars, Chats, Videoconferences, and Other Advantages of Online Study

The online format of the new master’s programme provides students many advantages. Students can take courses from anywhere in the world, the schedule is flexible, and the tuition fee is lower than at similar on-site programmes. According to Sergey Roshchin,  students will be actively involved in the learning process; they will interact with teachers and assistants regularly in live chats and video conferences. The curriculum includes webinars, online collaboration, and discussions. This makes the master’s programme different from massive open online courses, where students learn independently and have less communication with the teacher.

Student-teacher communication will be conducted in apps such as Zoom (a high-definition video conference hosting and recording service) and Slack (a corporate messenger, which is called a ‘Skype and corporate email killer’).

‘In partnership with Coursera, we have made sure we comply with high educational standards,’ says Evgeny Sokolov. ‘There will be a lot of projects with real data, as well as tests. The assignments will be graded both automatically by the system and manually by teachers.’

In order to complete the programme, students must defend a master’s thesis. Usually, a master’s thesis is comprised of a research paper, but Master of Data Science students will have the opportunity to solve a real practical case, which they can then include in their CVs. The defence will also be conducted online, via videoconference.

How to Apply?

An important aspect of the Master of Data Science programme is that its curriculum includes full study of mathematics for data analysis, as well as programming and algorithms. So, it welcomes students with bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees in any field.

To gain admittance into the programme, students must demonstrate proficiency in mathematics. Applicants will sit an online proctored exam in mathematics. As Ivan Arzhantsev, Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science, predicts, over half of the first enrolment will be international students, and about 85% of students will successfully complete the programme (this is an average indicator for Coursera specializations).

The programme does not offer any state-funded places. There are only fee-paying places, but discounts will be offered depending on a student’s location (taking into consideration the standards of living in the student’s country).

The programme will admit new students twice a year: to classes starting in February/March and September. Webinars for prospective students will be held several times a semester as Open Days and lectures (workshops) by leading experts in Data Science.

See also:

HSE and Coursera to Host International eSTARS Conference

In December 2020, the HSE eLearning Office, together with the global online platform Coursera, will host the eSTARS International eLearning Conference.

‘The Advantages of HSE University’s Master’s Programmes Lie in the Extraordinary Diversity of What the University Has to Offer’

While studying in HSE University’s master’s programmes, students receive an education that is developed with an eye towards specific professional markets, they can pursue research tracks, and they can even design their own individual curricula that incorporate coursework and expertise different programmes. HSE Vice Rector Sergey Roshchin discusses these benefits and others of HSE University’s master’s programmes.

‘I Was Always a Fan of Online Studying’

Students of the first cohort of the HSE’s online Master of Data Science are now completing their first semester. Offered entirely online on Coursera, the programme attracts students from all over the world. HSE News Service spoke with two international students about what drew them to the programme, the courses they have taken so far, and what their online student community is like.

HSE University Ranks Sixth Globally by Number of Online Courses

HSE University offers 104 online courses on Coursera and 100 courses on the Open Education platform. On Coursera, HSE University is the leading Russian university in terms of its number of course offerings. Since HSE University joined Coursera, it has had 2.5 million enrolments.

HSE Launches Online Course on the Digitalization of Megapolises in Partnership with Coursera

The programme is aimed not only at students, but also city administration employees, IT specialists, and company managers. Course content allows students to learn about the latest successful developments in megacity digitalization in the context of Moscow. There is no other course like it offered in Russia or the world.


HSE University online courses are available on Coursera since December 23. ‘First Steps in Linear Algebra for Machine Learning’ has become the hundredth course to be offered by HSE University.


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