UO’s First Data Science Graduates


Students at a UO Graduation Parade
UO’s First Data Science Graduates

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.

“It is exciting to see our first cohort of graduates from the new data science degree program,” said Patrick Phillips, provost and senior vice president. “This is the result of years of work spent bringing this degree program to life and it reinforces what’s possible in our goal to offer programs that address major societal changes and challenges.”

This first group of graduates is just the beginning.

“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.”


Haley Rice, class of 2022

Haley Rice

Domain: Biology
Major: Data Science and Biology
Minor: Chemistry & Sociology
Hometown: Beaverton, Oregon

I chose a biology domain for the degree. It has helped connect my two majors and made double majoring and still graduating in four years feasible. I hope to apply my degree to environmental or conservation management. Data science is a really prevalent subject that relates to any career field because data is everywhere! Regardless of someone's interest in computers, I highly recommend learning at least a little bit about how data is collected and used in society and how it may be relevant to you.


Darby Olson, class of 2022

Darby Olson

Domain: Marketing Analytics
Minor: Business Administration, Mathematics, and Entrepreneurship
Hometown: Portland, Oregon

I liked how all the professors did a great job with navigating brand-new classes and always asking questions from the ‘new’ students to improve it for the students that followed. The data science major looked interesting to me because of the mix of computer science, business, and math aspects, which were three of my strengths in school. Before being told that the data science program was coming to Oregon, I was taking a lot of time trying to decide if I wanted to continue with computer science or with business for my major path and which major I would enjoy more in the long run. Forbes also named data science as the ‘Sexiest Job of the 21st Century,’ which is obviously going to grab most peoples' attention.

Jobs Nationwide
Data Science Starting Salaries
Increase in Demand Year After Year

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.”


Liza Richards, class of 2022

Liza Richards

Domain: Biology
Major: Computer and Information Science and Data Science
Minor: Biology
Hometown: Walnut Creek, California

“I was trying to figure out how I could best combine my major and my minor because even though I had switched them my main interest is with biological applications of computer science. I knew the best way to do that was through data science because I wanted to do bioinformatics or biotechnology.

One of my favorite things about getting my data science degree was that I felt like I was doing something I really loved. I finally had found a way to combine my two biggest interests, and it has become something I am super passionate about and something that I am excited to do in the coming years.”


Brian Kim, class of 2022

Brian Kim

Domain: Economics
Minor: Economics and Mathematics
Hometown: Beaverton, Oregon

“I started studying at UO in 2017. I was a CIS major beforehand, and I switched to data science because it felt more in line with what I wanted to do in the future. Getting my degree felt flexible. I was able to choose a domain I liked from the many available choices and the courses are offered fairly frequently.”

Majors Spring '22
Enrolled in DSCI 101 AY21–22
Incoming Students fall 22 (Est.)

Check out the Program

Visit the Data Science Initiative for more information about the undergraduate program and the work of the initiative.

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