First data science major in the region launched by CSU

Our world now depends on big data – and the thoughtful analysis of it. From health care to finance to government to science, we rely every day on the study of truly massive troves of data. People trained in this skill are, however, in very short supply, which is one of the reasons data scientist has been the top-rated job in the U.S. for the past two years.

To help the state and the world meet this ever-increasing need and to help shape the data-driven future, Colorado State University is launching a new major in data science, starting fall 2018. The program is the first of its kind in the entire Rocky Mountain region.

New field

The major will offer 10 new dedicated data science courses – ranging from data wrangling to data graphics and visualization to a group capstone project. It will also give majors a broad foundation in computer science, mathematics and statistics.

“Data science has emerged from a combination of computer science, mathematics and statistics,” said Simon Tavener, College of Natural Sciences associate dean for academics. “And it has now developed into a separate field in its own right, thanks in part to demands for data-driven knowledge across disciplines.”

Students in the new major will select a concentration in computer science, economics, mathematics or statistics. The first, foundational year is similar for all concentrations. The concentrations then diverge as students pursue upper level courses alongside majors in these fields, while continuing to take specialized data science courses. In their final year, data science students from all concentrations will come together in small groups to tackle real-world data problems in the capstone course.

“This new degree program at CSU provides a powerful balance across fields,” Tavener said. “It will prepare students with the skills and understanding to be able to enter directly into the workforce – or continue their study in data-based disciplines.”

Growth potential

Data scientists have top earning potential, with an average salary of more than $110,000. And experts estimate a shortage of more than 1 million data scientists, making people trained in this field in high demand.

The new program is housed as an interdisciplinary major in the College of Natural Sciences and is currently enrolling incoming first-year students for the first cohort in fall 2018. Rising second-year students with relevant credits might also be able to transfer into the major. The program will have a dedicated Academic Success Coordinator as well as faculty mentors from the participating departments. There will be opportunities to get involved in research and activities outside of the classroom as well.

For more information about the major, visit the data science homepage.

“We are incredibly excited to be able to offer this new and dynamic field of study to students at Colorado State University,” said Dean of the College of Natural Sciences Jan Nerger. “Data science majors will be able to make a real difference in the world in whatever field they choose. We cannot wait to welcome the first cohort in the fall – and then to see the fascinating and important things they do after they graduate.”