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New graduate programs aim to prepare future data scientists

Data Science

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity will launch a new suite of inter­dis­ci­pli­nary data sci­ence pro­grams aimed at training the next gen­er­a­tion of data man­agers and ana­lysts, a par­tic­u­larly pressing need in light of the field’s ongoing talent shortage.

The suite will com­prise four dis­tinct pro­grams, including grad­uate cer­tifi­cates in data sci­ence and urban infor­matics as well as master’s degrees in urban infor­matics and busi­ness ana­lytics. In the future, North­eastern plans to offer addi­tional grad­uate pro­grams in fields like game analytics.

The pro­grams will align with Northeastern’s focus on pur­suing use-​​inspired, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research to solve the world’s most pressing prob­lems. Indeed, the cur­riculum will har­ness the exper­tise of fac­ulty mem­bers in three col­leges: the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence, the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties, and the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness.

Prospec­tive stu­dents who have earned a bachelor’s degree may apply to any one of the four cur­rently avail­able pro­grams, which will begin in either the spring or fall of 2015. Those who com­plete the cer­tifi­cate pro­gram in data sci­ence may transfer their credit to either of the master’s degree pro­grams, while those who earn the cer­tifi­cate in urban infor­matics may transfer their credit to its grad­uate program.

Depending on the pro­gram, the courses will be deliv­ered exclu­sively online or through a com­bi­na­tion of online and on-​​campus instruc­tion. In either case, all classes will leverage Northeastern’s sig­na­ture expe­ri­en­tial learning model, drawing on stu­dents’ pro­fes­sional expe­ri­ences to make real-​​world con­nec­tions with the sub­ject matter.

A team of North­eastern fac­ulty mem­bers designed the program’s cur­riculum to appeal to stu­dents who have little famil­iarity with data ana­lytics. “Under­standing and effec­tively pre­senting large vol­umes of data is one of the greatest chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties faced by indus­tries today,” added Bryan Lackaye, assis­tant dean of grad­uate pro­grams at North­eastern. “The university’s data sci­ence pro­grams were devel­oped to address these emerging and crit­ical needs.”

The pro­grams will be rolled out at a par­tic­u­larly crit­ical time, for the rapid evo­lu­tion in the way busi­nesses, research insti­tu­tions, and gov­ern­ments pro­duce, process, and ana­lyze data has cre­ated a dearth of data sci­ence experts. According to the McK­insey Global Insti­tute, the demand for data ana­lysts will exceed the supply by up to 60 per­cent by 2018, cre­ating a need for 140,000 to 190,000 positions.

Northeastern’s new data sci­ence pro­grams will train stu­dents to excel in these types of positions—which range from actu­aries and internal audi­tors to data­base admin­is­tra­tors and sta­tis­tical mod­eling analysts—and pre­pare them to make an impact on how people view and under­stand data.

The grad­uate cer­tifi­cate in data sci­ence, for example, aims to improve stu­dents’ abil­i­ties to manage, ana­lyze, and draw action­able insights from large vol­umes of data—core capa­bil­i­ties that can be applied to data driven decision-​​making in many disciplines.

We designed the cer­tifi­cate pro­gram to appeal to a wide variety of stu­dents across the country and even around the world,” said machine learning expert Nick Beauchamp, an assis­tant pro­fessor in the Depart­ment of Polit­ical Sci­ence who helped create the cur­riculum for the data sci­ence cer­tifi­cate. “We want North­eastern to become known as the place where you can learn a wide variety of skills for ana­lyzing Big Data systematically.”

For more infor­ma­tion on Northeastern’s data sci­ence pro­grams, please visit http://​www​.north​eastern​.edu/​d​a​t​a​s​c​i​e​n​ce/

-By Jason Kornwitz

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