University of Wisconsin–Madison launching master’s degree program in data science

BY Meghan MalasMay 19, 2022, 7:05 PM
The UW-Madison campus and Lake Mendota are pictured looking northward in an early morning aerial taken from a helicopter, as seen in October 2018. (Photo by Bryce Richter—UW-Madison)

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is launching a master’s degree program in data science to meet the growing demand among students for more data science offerings. The new program, which will begin enrolling students in Fall 2022, is a collaboration between the statistics and computer sciences departments, housed in the university’s School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences. 

UW–Madison’s undergraduate major in data science is the fastest-growing and fourth-largest major on campus, with 923 current declared majors. Computer sciences is the largest major on UW–Madison’s campus—with approximately 2,200 declared majors. 

“Data science is one of the fastest-growing employment sectors in the nation and Wisconsin,” says Tom Erickson, founding director of the School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t currently compile data for the occupation of data scientist specifically, but it does project jobs for mathematicians and statisticians—of which data scientists are included—to grow 33% by 2030. 

University adds degree programs in information science, data engineering

The university will also add bachelor’s degree programs in information science and a master’s degree program in data engineering along with the school’s revamped list of offerings. The master’s degree in data engineering is intended to complement the master’s in data science degree program.  

“Data engineering encompasses numerous specialties of computer science,” Erickson says. “(The program) is one of the first of its kind in the country, developing skills to ensure the data intended for data scientists is highly usable.”

Applicants to the master’s in data science program need to show they have completed particular quantitative college-level coursework and have experience using R for statistical analysis and data management. Applicants to the data engineering degree program must have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. 

Applications are now open for the graduate programs. Also on the horizon is the opening of the physical building for the School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences in 2025. The school will house data science research and education for the entire UW Madison campus and region. 

“In all cases, the ability to analyze large datasets and draw sound conclusions is critical, and data scientists drive this process forward,” Erickson says. “In a data-driven world, society needs more trained professionals in this growing space.”

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