The course will be delivered via HBS Online’s course platform and immerse learners in real-world examples from experts at industry-leading organizations. By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Examine historical income, education and family support, and geography to understand how these economic factors lead to upward mobility
  • Understand how big data is used to identify the causes of socioeconomic disparities and how data can lead to evidence-based action and outcomes
  • Explore economic methodologies, such as statistical models, regression analysis, and quasi-experiments in data set combinations
  • Utilize economic frameworks and apply them to your work
  • Use evidence to engage and gain the support of communities and constituents to drive systemic policy developments and changes

About the Professor

Raj Chetty, PhD, is the William A. Ackman Professor of Public Economics at Harvard University and Director of Opportunity Insights. His research uses “big data” to understand how we can give children from disadvantaged backgrounds better chances of succeeding. Chetty’s research combines empirical evidence and economic theory to help design more effective government policies. His work on topics ranging from tax policy and unemployment insurance to education and affordable housing has been widely cited in academia, media outlets, and Congressional testimony. He has received numerous awards for his research, including a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and the John Bates Clark medal, given to the economist under 40 whose work is judged to have made the most significant contribution to the field.


Community Activists and Nonprofits

Use big data and economic principles to gain support and advocate for change in underserved communities.

Policy Advocates and Public Sector Employees

Serve the needs and requests of your communities better through evidence-based research and defined policy outcomes.

Students and Recent Graduates

Learn how to combine disparate data sets that lead to key findings, insights, and solutions for addressing economic societal problems.


Big Data for Social Good consists of approximately 20 hours of material delivered over a four-week period. You can complete the coursework on your own time while meeting regular deadlines

January 2022
Length:4 Weeks
Program Dates: 1/26/22 – 2/23/22
Cost: $1,600
Application Deadline: January 17
Apply Now


Big Data for Social Good will teach you how to use big data, coupled with the tools of data science and economics, to solve some of the most important social problems of our time. Big data can help us cut through politically charged debates and find out what policies actually work from a scientific perspective, making the often-discussed notion of “evidence-based policymaking” a reality. Using big data, we can see how the specific neighborhoods in which we grow up and the schools we attend shape our life outcomes—and how we can take these insights to create better opportunities for all.

Learning requirements: In order to earn a Certificate of Completion from Harvard Online, participants must thoughtfully complete all 8 modules.

Download Syllabus (PDF)


  • World-class faculty
  • Edge-of-your-seat online learning
  • Global peer collaboration and networking
  • Real-world, case-based learning

Harvard Business School Online offers a unique and highly engaging way to learn vital business concepts. Hear from educators, social activists, and policy experts about how they approach pressing social issues. Understand how statistical methods, economic approaches, and big data can impact policies that lead to improved outcomes and greater economic opportunity around the world.

Stories from Our Learners

The platform was engaging, innovative, and allowed me to interact with the material in a way I never expected from an online course.

Bethany Larson, HBS Online Participant

I had never experienced such an immersive platform online, and could argue that it was more effective at building and solidifying knowledge than some of the in-class courses I took in college.

Ryan Dumlao, HBS Online Participant

Request More Information

Sign up to receive additional information about this course. Find out what other learners are doing with the skills they gained, and evaluate if this course is the right fit for you.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to log in at a set time? How does the grading process work? At this point, you probably have a few questions, and we’ve got answers.

Learn More

Enrollment Eligibility

Our easy online application is free, and no special documentation is required. All applicants must be at least 18 years of age, proficient in English, and committed to learning and engaging with fellow participants throughout the course. We confirm enrollment eligibility within one week of your application.

Apply Now

Earn Your Certificate

Enroll today in Harvard Online's Big Data for Social Good course.

Apply Now