UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is helping students jump into the rapidly growing field of data science. Beginning in Fall 2023, the College will offer two new undergraduate degrees: a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Statistical Data Science and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Applied Data Analysis.
“Nearly every job in industry, government, or academics requires some sort of data analysis,” says Elizabeth Schifano, an associate professor of statistics who oversees the BS. “These degrees will give students the tools to analyze that data. The possibilities are endless.”
The interdisciplinary degrees, which were approved at the Board of Trustees’ Dec. 7 meeting, will provide opportunities for students to explore data generation, analysis, visualization, and ethics. Students will also select domain areas that range from American political institutions to financial analysis to population dynamics.
“The BS is designed with a strong foundational core in statistics, programming, and mathematics, but it can be tailored to students’ application interests,” explains Schifano. “The BA gives students more exposure to the statistical and technical skills needed to analyze data that can answer questions within the social sciences.”
Both degrees require 36 credits. Students will also conduct a final capstone research project, which will apply the core data science skills to a practical problem.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates an increase of about 40,000 data scientist positions between now and 2031, representing about a 36% increase (2021-2031). The growth is expected to stem from an increased demand for data-driven decisions, especially as technology evolves.
“It’s not only statisticians and computer scientists who are interested in analyzing data,” says Lyle Scruggs, a professor of political science who oversees the BA. “Political scientists, economists, and sociologists are interested, and it’s important in those areas.”
Scruggs says the degrees will fit well with students who want to pursue double majors.
“If someone is majoring in economics as well as data science, or in public policy as well as data science, or biology as well as data science, the majors are compatible,” he explains. “It can improve or enhance a student’s preparation for the job market or for graduate school.
“We hope to teach students to use data and data science methods to make good socially responsible decisions — and avoid the bad ones.”