The Data Science Initiative graduated their first group of undergraduates. Seven undergraduate data science students walked the stage this spring to collect their diplomas, an exciting moment for the university’s new data science degree program.
The graduates are among the first to enter the program that launched in fall 2020 as part of the UO’s Presidential Initiative in Data Science. The initiative is one of Provost and Senior Vice President Patrick Phillips’ strategic priorities.
“The vision for a broad new educational opportunity came to reality with the graduation of our first cohort of students,” said Bill Cresko, professor of biology and executive director of the Data Science Initiative, “I am so pleased by how prepared these students are for their future careers.”
With a university-wide focus, data science undergraduate program teaches students core data science skills and applied those to a domain, or specialty area. Students currently have nine domains to choose from – accounting analytics, biology, earth science, economics, geography, linguistics, marketing analytics, physics, and sociology. Music technology will be available in fall 2022 and more domains are in the works.
The program is proving popular with majors and students outside the program. The introductory sequence, DSCI 101 and 102, is open to all students as general education course.
“The demand for the introductory sequence has become so large that starting in fall 2022, we are offering the two-quarter sequence (DSCI 101/102) twice: once in fall/winter and again in winter/spring. I expect that within a couple more years, we will be offering each of those courses every quarter of the academic year. We have also started to discuss developing asynchronous, online versions of those courses to cope with even greater demand,” said Joe Sventek, professor of computer and information science and data science program director.
Data scientists are essential players in nearly every industry, ranging from auto production to aerospace, healthcare and biotech, as well as investment banking, insurance, government, and even non-profit management. In fact, search “data science” on Indeed and you’ll see more than 10,000 opportunities around the country. Glassdoor, a leader in workforce analysis, estimates the starting salaries for data science jobs between $81k-149k – for entry-level jobs.
Lauren Ponisio, assistant professor of biology, teaches DSCI 101. “Seeing the first cohort of students graduate is an exciting first culmination of the data science program at UO. I look forward to seeing what career paths they take.”