The University of Michigan announced the creation of three online University master’s degree programs at the Coursera Partners Conferences Tuesday — one in applied data science, one in public health and one in construction engineering and management.

The Master of Applied Data Science degree courses on Coursera are being developed by the University’s School of Information, a graduate school that started offering an undergraduate curriculum four years ago. The Information School already offers nearly 40 massive open online courses in the subjects of applied data science, programming, user experience, web design and public library management. These MOOCs have been enrolled in over a million times by people across the globe.

The development of online coursework opens up opportunities for those who may not be able to engage in traditional, residential higher education to learn the rapidly-growing field of applied data science.

“The development of this new degree represents progression toward our goal of extending access to professional education outside the conventional residential environment,” Information School Dean Thomas Finhol said in a University press release.

The Master of Public Health is offered by the School of Public Health, and is one of the first of its kind to be offered on an online platform like Coursera. The Public Health School has also been a graduate school for decades, and just last year started an undergraduate degree program.

The online program will offer students and professionals coursework in various public health disciplines, and will cover public health challenges such as obesity, food insecurity, disease, health care, environmental determinants of health and health effects of socioeconomic inequalities. The goal of the program is to equip students with the knowledge to tackle complex crises.

Those enrolled in the public health program will also be able to choose a specialization in their curriculum which include program planning and evaluation, health analytics, population health and genomics.

Public Health junior Claire Fendrick said the possibility of an online degree was particularly useful for a field like public health, because fieldwork often has to be done far away from universities.

“I think that while online master’s degrees are often seen in a negative light (like the University of Phoenix or the stuff you often see ads for), the opportunity to further your degree while working in the field is super beneficial for public health students,” Fendrick wrote to the Daily. “Public health is a field in which you can’t do much without a master’s degree, so having the opportunity to work remotely will most likely benefit a lot of people in the public health workforce, because so much of public health lies outside a university’s borders!”

The third new University program available on Coursera is the Construction Engineering and Management MasterTrack Certificate. The program is flexible, allowing students to earn certification or take advanced courses. There is even potential for on-campus enrollment for the Construction Engineering and Management Master of Engineering degree at the conclusion of the course.

In the program, engineering faculty members teach courses in accounting, decision making and project management with an engineering focus. The goal is to prepare students to work as construction managers within six or seven months of starting the program.

The three new Coursera programs are a continuation of the existing partnership between the University and the online platform.

“We are thrilled to continue working with this university to push the status quo by pioneering a new way to offer degrees that fits the evolving needs of students who demand degrees that are more affordable and are available when and wherever they are ready to learn,” Nikhil Sinha, chief content officer at Coursera, said in the release.


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