Harvard Summer Program in Nafplio and Crete, Greece (Data Science)

Apply by: 
January 31, 2019

An introduction to data science amidst the beauty of Greece

Greece has traditionally been a place for cultural and historical studies. This eight-week program offers you the opportunity to combine science studies with immersion in Greek culture. The course, which will be hosted in Nafplio and the island of Crete, focuses on the analysis of messy, real life data to perform predictions using statistical and machine learning methods. The study of the topic of data science involving computer science, statistics, and math, will be enriched by work with local data sets and resources.

Program structure

The program, which is supported by the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece, begins with a week-long orientation in Nafplio—the first capital of the modern Greek state—and Athens, the current capital. During this week, you will receive an immersive introduction to your coursework and to the culture, history, and society of Greece through scheduled activities and visits to local institutions and points of interest. You will then travel onward to Rethymno on the island of Crete for seven weeks of intensive coursework. Rethymno is home to the University of Crete School of Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as to the Institute for Mediterranean Studies, and has a vibrant academic community. Your coursework will be complemented by immersion in the local culture of Crete through activities and excursions to archeological, scientific, and other sites of interest, as well as exploration of the island’s extraordinary natural beauty.

Course Information:

In this course, you delve into data science and machine learning through lectures, hands-on programming labs, collaborative problem-solving activities, and projects using local data sets. Project topics will include current subjects such a fire prevention, archeology, tourism, and agriculture.
Course topics include a math review of subjects relevant to data science such as linear algebra, functions & optimization, probability, and statistics. We continue with kNN regression, linear regression, multiple regression and the bootstrap, cross-validation & model selection, linear model regularization: ridge & lasso, PCA and high dimensionality, dealing with big data. Then it's logistic regression, neural networks, SGD, kNN classification, dealing with missing data, classification trees, regression trees, bagging RF, and boosting methods. Lastly we study CNNs, auto-encoders, generative models, GANS and stacking. 

Prerequisite: one year of prior programming coursework and an introductory-level course in statistics.

Where you live and study

During your orientation week at the start of the program, you will participate in activities at the state-of-the-art facilities in the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies in Nafplio, and will explore the renowned historical and cultural landmarks of Athens. During your seven weeks of study in Rethymno, Crete, you will attend classes at the hotel in which you will be staying.


In Nafplio, you will stay at the well-equipped, recently renovated Park Hotel in the heart of the old town center and just a few minutes’ walk from the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies, where orientation activities will be held.

In Athens, you will stay in a hotel in the heart of the city, affording convenient access to the city’s celebrated archeological sites, museums, and other points of interest.

In Rethymno, you will stay in a hotel within walking distance of the heart of the historic district. The hotel provides 24/7 concierge service and spacious, well-equipped rooms. The classes will conveniently take place in a conference room inside the hotel.

Breakfast is included in all the hotels as well several dinners each week at local restaurants together with your teachers. For lunch and other dinners, you will have the opportunity to explore the local cuisine.


Early application is strongly encouraged. Each program has unique requirements included in the online application. Beginning your application early is the best way to ensure that you have sufficient time to review and complete the application requirements by the deadline.

A complete online application includes:

  • Basic personal information
  • A statement of interest
  • Your most recent transcript
  • Program-specific requirements (if applicable; may include letters of recommendation, audio or video submissions, etc.)
  • A $75 application fee (per program)

Interviews may be requested at the discretion of the program.

Applications are due by 11:59 pm ET on January 31, 2019. You may apply to up to two programs; each program requires a separate application and fee.

The online application will open in early December.

Cost & Expenses

The program fee includes:

  • Tuition
  • Accommodations
  • Scheduled program activities
  • Some meals (the program will provide further details)

You will also need to budget for a number of expenses not covered by the program fee. The amounts listed below for these out-of-pocket expenses are approximate, and you may incur additional expenses not noted here. Your actual expenses will depend on a number of factors, including personal spending habits and currency exchange rates.

  • International airfare ($1,300 - $1,600)
  • Ground transportation ($150)
  • Meals ($1,100)
  • Personal expenditures, communications, course materials, and miscellaneous ($300)

If you have specific questions about personal budgeting, please contact the program directly. See Funding and Payment for information on how to submit payments and funding options.

Additional information

Program directors

Efthimios Kaxiras 
Pavlos Protopapas

Program Coordinator

Eleni Angelaki Kaxiras