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Math, Computer Science Departments Add New Degree in Data Science
Undergraduate Program, First of Its Kind in North Texas, Will Be Offered Starting Next Spring
Nov. 29, 2018
The University of Texas at Dallas is jumping at the opportunity to train undergraduate students with the cross-disciplinary know-how they need to land a job in the hottest field in the country.
Beginning in the spring semester of 2019, the Department of Mathematical Sciences and the Department of Computer Science will offer a bachelor’s in data science, the only such undergraduate degree of its kind in North Texas.
Data science focuses on methods for quickly drawing accurate conclusions from large information sets. The School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science will oversee the new curriculum, which is intended to provide a strong foundation in computer science, mathematics and statistics.
Prominent job market website Glassdoor placed data scientist atop its list of the 50 Best Jobs in America in 2018 for a third consecutive year, based on earning potential, job satisfaction and the number of job openings. Dr. Bruce Novak, dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the Distinguished Chair in Natural Sciences and Mathematics, said the new program will provide graduates with an in-demand skill set for a wide spectrum of industries and agencies.
Dr. Gopal Gupta
“Data science relates to the statistical methods you use to derive patterns and trends from large amounts of data,” Novak said. “This is important for so many fields, from companies that ship or manufacture goods, to researchers who study disease control and human health, to those who track climate change. We collect data like crazy these days, so data science is relevant to almost any business or research area.”
Dr. Gopal Gupta, Erik Jonsson Chair and department head of computer science, agreed that data science can be applied to a wide range of enterprises.
“Data science is becoming increasingly important today,” Gupta said. “Every field or organization has big problems that it wants solved, and they are in possession of a large amount of relevant data. Data science can help solve these big problems. For new graduates with this expertise, the job market is wide open.”
The new curriculum, which also includes a capstone project course, greatly expands on the graduate certificate in data science that the two departments already offer.
Dr. Vladimir Dragovic
Dr. Vladimir Dragovic, the department head of mathematical sciences, described the interdisciplinary program as a role model for future cross-campus collaborations.
“The data science BS will be UT Dallas’ first Bachelor of Science program offered jointly from departments from two schools,” Dragovic said. “The curriculum is designed in a way that a student may choose to enter the job market or go to graduate school. There has already been substantial interest.”
Seven new classes were designed specifically for the program, which was built with input from local industries and from curricular guidelines developed across the nation and endorsed by organizations like the American Statistical Association.
“Data science programs at all levels are a recent phenomenon, and undergraduate-level programs are relatively less common,” Dragovic said. “This will be the second such program in Texas. We’re all very enthusiastic about this joint venture, and we’re ready to bring in our first cohort.”
Bachelor of Science in Data Science
The new joint degree program, offered by the Department of Mathematical Sciences and the Department of Computer Science, includes a balanced mix of courses in computer science, statistics and mathematics.
Degree requirements: Students must earn 120 hours to graduate: 42 hours from the University’s core curriculum, 65 to 67 hours in the major, plus 11 to 13 elective requirements where students can tailor their learning experience more closely to their interests.
Potential careers: Data scientists are in demand in sectors such as banking and finance, technology, health care, marketing and product development, retail, manufacturing and government.