Speaking at the virtual MITx MicroMasters Program Joint Completion Celebration last summer, Diogo da Silva Branco Magalhães described watching a Spider-Man movie with his 8-year-old son and realizing that his son thought MIT was a fictional entity that existed only in the Marvel universe.
“I had to tell him that MIT also exists in the real world, and that some of the programs are available online for everyone,” says da Silva Branco Magalhães, who earned his credential in the MicroMasters in Statistics and Data Science program. “You don’t need to be a superhero to participate in an MIT program, but MIT can give you ‘superpowers.’ In my case, the superpower that I was looking to acquire was a better understanding of the key technologies that are shaping the future of transportation.
Part of MIT Open Learning, the MicroMasters programs have drawn in almost 1.4 million learners, spanning nearly every country in the world. More than 7,500 people have earned their credentials across the MicroMasters programs, including: Statistics and Data Science; Supply Chain Management; Data, Economics, and Design of Policy; Principles of Manufacturing; and Finance.
Earning his MicroMasters credential not only gave da Silva Branco Magalhães a strong foundation to tackle more complex transportation problems, but it also opened the door to pursuing an accelerated graduate degree via a Northwestern University online program.
Learners who earn their MicroMasters credentials gain the opportunity to apply to and continue their studies at a pathway school. The MicroMasters in Statistics and Data Science credential can be applied as credit for a master’s program at more than 30 universities, as well as MIT’s PhD Program in Social and Engineering Systems. Da Silva Branco Magalhães, originally from Portugal and now based in Australia, seized this opportunity and enrolled in Northwestern University’s Master’s in Data Science for MIT MicroMasters Credential Holders.
The pathway to an enhanced career
The pathway model launched in 2016 with the MicroMasters in Supply Chain Management. Now, there are over 50 pathway institutions that offer more than 100 different programs for master’s degrees. With pathway institutions located around the world, MicroMasters credential holders can obtain master’s degrees from local residential or virtual programs, at a location convenient to them. They can receive credit for their MicroMasters courses upon acceptance, providing flexibility for online programs and also shortening the time needed on site for residential programs.
“The pathways expand opportunities for learners, and also help universities attract a broader range of potential students, which can enrich their programs,” says Dana Doyle, senior director for the MicroMasters Program at MIT Open Learning. “This is a tangible way we can achieve our mission of expanding education access.”
Da Silva Branco Magalhães began the MicroMasters in Statistics and Data Science program in 2020, ultimately completing the program in 2022.
“After having worked for 20 years in the transportation sector in various roles, I realized I was no longer equipped as a professional to deal with the new technologies that were set to disrupt the mobility sector,” says da Silva Branco Magalhães. “It became clear to me that data and AI were the driving forces behind new products and services such as autonomous vehicles, on-demand transport, or mobility as a service, but I didn’t really understand how data was being used to achieve these outcomes, so I needed to improve my knowledge.”