The idea of Big Data is emerging together with the hope to exploit the knowledge hidden in these data to solve the problems of society and the economy. However, turning the oceans of messy data into knowledge is a difficult task and the number of skilled professionals able to meet the challenge is absolutely insufficient. All observers agree that the abundance of data coexists with profound shortage of data scientists, the professional emerging that combines "the skills of computer, statistical and narrator to extract the nuggets of gold hidden under mountains of data"; the job that The Economist defines "the sexiest job of the 21st century". The data scientists is one of the most required  professionals; a report by McKinsey expected for 2018, in the US alone, a shortage of 190,000 skilled analysts of Big Data and 1.5 million managers able to use the results of the analysis to take effective.

The objective of the master is to train "data scientists", a professional with a mix of multidisciplinary skills useful to obtain and process big data and extract knowledge to support decision-making and the development of innovative services, knowing also how to manage the ethical and legal implications deriving from the use of these services.

The challenge of training data scientists is therefore at the intersection of technology, analytical, narrative and ethical skills, and thus it must integrate knowledge from different disciplines: data mining and machine learning, data analysis and visualization, complex systems science and networks, computational sociology and social simulation, ethics, data journalism and story-telling. It is also essential to stimulate students to the creative use of data sources, leaving plenty of room for training in concrete projects in real contexts.