Online Master's Degree in Complexity
Online Master's Degree in Complexity
Written by Sue Gee   
Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The Santa Fe Institute is partnering with Arizona State University to offer the world’s first comprehensive online master’s degree in complexity science. It builds on the free online courses already offered on the Complexity Explorer.




SFI's Complexity Explorer was launched in 2013 as a web-based repository of educational materials related to complex systems science. Having participated in Its first course,  Introduction to Complexity, I wrote about the experience along with details of subsequent courses, see Going Further Into Complexity With Santa Fe Institute and More Courses On Complexity Explorer.

Currently Complexity Explorer has two active courses, both of which opened on September 4th:

There are three archived courses, the material of which are available:

Two new courses are billed as upcoming

  • Algorithmic Information Dynamics: From Networks to Cells
  • Complexity Economics

In the press release announcing the ASU-SFI Master's Degree in Complexity Science, SFI Director of Education Paul Hooper states:

"One of SFI’s goals is to help develop the next generation of scientists and students ready to understand the complex realities we’ll face in this century. This first SFI degree program gives us an opportunity to amplify the impact of the science, and to define the field.”

The Master's will launch in Spring of 2019 at the earliest and will be accredited by Arizona State University which also contributes its EdPlus online education platform, where the Master's courses will be hosted and run, and faculty experts in various areas of complexity research.

The curriculum is currently under development. It will consist of 30 credit hours comprising 15 two-credit-hour courses: five in the fundamental concepts of complexity (e.g., generalized evolution and collective computation), four in the methods of complexity science (e.g. networks, game theory), four electives (e.g. economics or cities), two independent study options, and an original research project. 

According to the faqs for the ASU-SFI Master's Degree in Complexity Science the cost will be between $15,300 and $39,360 USD based on what ASU typically charges fro graduate level courses.

Other answers there clarify that courses currently on Complexity Explorer will not count towards the Master's but that it is a good idea to take Complexity Explorer's courses and tutorials as they can give you a head start in the area of foundational concepts and methods.

Two questions ask about the future of Complexity Explorer: 

  • Will you stop offering new MOOCs and tutorials on Complexity Explorer? Quite the opposite! We will be re-packaging many of the courses produced for the Master's and will offer them as non-credit MOOCs on Complexity Explorer.  This is going to help us create a large number of new, interesting MOOCs for you much faster than we normally can.  
  • When will you release the new MOOCs from the Master's courses? We will first concentrate on getting the Master's program going.  Once a Master's course has been offered, we will get to work repackaging it as a MOOC.

As a long-term goal SFI plans to create a non-credit SFI Complex Systems Certificate consisting of a series of MOOCs and culminating in a Complexity Challenge.  This will use the MOOCs created from the Master's courses as well as non-Master's Complexity Explorer MOOCs.

So if you are interested in Complexity Science but don't require a Master's accreditation keep an eye on what Complexity Explorer has to offer. 




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