More AI Training From Microsoft
Written by Sue Gee   
Wednesday, 04 April 2018

A new Microsoft Professional Program in Artificial Intelligence has been announced. It comprises ten required courses, each of which is run on a quarterly basis on the edX platform.


Last December Microsoft launched its AI School, a portal for developers who want to learn about AI in general and Microsoft tools in particular. Now it has formalized a structured program of nine courses plus a capstone project as an AI track on its Microsoft Professional Program and is offering a digitally-sharable credential to students who complete the entire set.

The Microsoft Professional Program is the new name for the Microsoft Professional Degree Program, which was launched with a Data Science track in July 2016. The new name has been chosen to reflect the job-oriented nature of the training. The FAQs explain that:

Recognizing a shortage of qualified individuals to fill the growing need for specific job roles, Microsoft Professional Program is a new way to learn the skills and get the hands-on experience these roles require. After passing all courses in the track and completing a final project, individuals earn a digitally sharable, résumé-worthy credential that confirms mastery of these functional and technical skills.

Microsoft had already augmented the courses it offered on the edX platform and towards the end of 2017 we reported that it was offering sets of courses on Cloud Admin with Azure, DevOps and Front-End Web Development. More topics have now been added and the while they vary in the amount of effort required they all consist of multiple courses which culminate in a Capstone project. To gain the Microsoft-issued credential you need to gain Verified Certificates, costing $99 for each component.

Currently there are eight Microsoft Professional Programs:

Title Number of courses Hours per course
Artificial Intelligence  10   8-16
Data Science  10   8-12
Big Data  10  12-30
Front-End Web Development  13  15-30
Cloud Administration  13  12-18
DevOps   8  8-16
IT Support  14  8-16
Entry Level Software Development  13  8-16


Each course runs for three months and starts at the beginning of a quarter. The capstone runs for four weeks at the beginning of each quarter: January, April, July, October. You can complete them in any order and enroll on multiple courses in a single quarter.

In terms of prerequisites, the Microsoft Professional Progams are all fairly undemanding. In the case of Artificial Intelligence they are: 

a secondary level of mathematics and a basic knowledge of programming concepts. Students should also have a sense of curiousity, a willingness to learn by exploring, and enough persistence to figure things out for yourself when something doesn't work as expected.



 The starting point of the track is Introduction to AI which we reported on when it was first avialbel in September 2017. The other courses in the track, some of which are also part of the Data Science track are:

  • Use Python to Work with Data
  • Essential Mathematics for Artificial Intelligence
  • Ethics and Law in Data and Analytics
  • Data Science Essentials
  • Principles of Machine Learning
  • Deep Learning Explained
  • Reinforcement Learning Explained

There are three options for the requirement to develop applied AI solutions:

Natural Language Processing (NLP), Speech Recognition Systems and Computer Vision and Image Analysis.

As always on the edX platform, you can audit the courses for free. However this won't allow you to participate in the final Capstone project, which is only available to those who have obtained certificates for the courses leading up to it as part of the Microsoft Professional Program. The Capstone is designed to:

Validate the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired during the Microsoft Professional Program for Artificial Intelligence, and solve a real-world AI problem in this program capstone project. The project takes the form of a challenge in which you will develop a deep learning solution that is tested and scored to determine your grade.



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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 April 2018 )