University of Connecticut announces new master’s degree program in data science

BY Meghan MalasFebruary 02, 2022, 2:16 PM
The Connecticut Huskies mascot performs during the game against the Louisville Cardinals in the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase, as seen in December 2021. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

The University of Connecticut wants to meet the rising demand for data savvy professionals with a new master’s degree program in data science. The program, set to launch in Fall 2022, is geared toward students who are looking to enter data science and embrace the interdisciplinary nature of this field. 

“It won’t be enough to know only the technical aspects of data science,” says Stephanie Reitz, a spokesperson for the University of Connecticut. Professionals in the program will be exposed to a wide array of topics, such as health care, insurance, environmental sustainability, agriculture, education, and finance, she adds. With such a vast approach to data science, UConn’s new program will feature collaboration between five of its schools and colleges.

“We were seeing demand in the market, as well as from our own faculty, who expressed interest in developing academic offerings in data science from a variety of perspectives,” says Carl Lejuez, UConn’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Notably, our program focuses on data ethics and equity, and takes an interdisciplinary approach.”

UConn’s Board of Trustees approved the addition of the program in December. The proposal to the board noted the steep demand for data scientists, especially in Connecticut, mentioning more than 200 vacancies for data scientist positions listed on Glassdoor in the state alone at the time. 

Data-science related jobs are projected to grow nearly 34% between 2016 and 2026, according to a 2018 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A data science program with an emphasis on ethical concerns

The proposal also noted that UConn’s new program will be distinct because ethical concerns will be woven into the entire curriculum—in addition to one required core course about data ethics. The final capstone consists of small groups of students guided by a faculty member as they solve a real-world problem posed by a business, government agency, or non-governmental organization (NGO).

The master’s degree program will also have a board of industry advisers consisting of corporations, government agencies, and NGOs that use data science in their work to ensure that the program continues to align with industry needs, says Reitz.

UConn plans to enroll 25 students for the full-time in-person master’s degree program in data science program for Fall 2022 and enroll 50 students in the part-time online program in 2023. By Fall 2026, the school expects to enroll 75 students in the in-person program and 350 in the online program. 

The data science program is 30 credit hours and is structured for full-time students to complete their courses in one year. Applicants can come from a diverse range of academic disciplines to be admitted, but they should have prior coursework in introductory statistics, introductory computer science, and single variable calculus. Admission requirements also include a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, a personal statement and three letters of recommendation.

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