Data Science involves extracting information or learning from data with the goal of making predictions of future events. Methods include combining multiple sources of data, applying artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, and modeling data using statistical methods. The program is designed to meet the needs of students entering the field of Data Science. There is a projected need for 140,000 to 190,000 positions in data analytics experts by 2018 (2011 McKinsey report). Locally, there is a need to support the business and governmental sectors. The program also plans to recruit international students from developing countries including China and perhaps India to create a thriving program with sufficient students. Given the employment needs and the wide draw of students, the outlook for this degree is promising.
Students come from various backgrounds including but not limited to math, science, business, technology, and engineering. All students entering the program seek to deepen their quantitative and analytical skill. Many students are working professionals in business and government sectors interested in learning how to gain the analytics skills to advance their careers.
The program begins with the core of Data Science, which is at the nexus of business, computer science, and statistics. This technical degree proceeds to blend computer science courses with statistics courses to prepare students to adapt to any domain with rigorous statistical and computational skills. Following the core, this program consists of six courses: two statistics courses; two computer science courses; an elective from business, statistics, or computer science; and a capstone project. The required statistics course develops modeling skills in the student, while the required computer science course exposes the students to machine learning and artificial intelligence. A number of relevant electives are available in computer science, statistics, and business to complete the degree. Students interact with diverse faculty members and students and are required to conduct research in a capstone project course motivated from an industry/government interaction.
After earning a master’s degree, the student will be qualified to work in industry and government where their skills will help support decision-making. Jobs that utilize these skills include data scientists, business analysts, domain-specific managers, computer systems analysts, data mining analysts, and business intelligence specialists.