Harvard Business Review named data scientist “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” Glassdoor named it “the best job in America” for the last four years. And demand is soaring for qualified data scientists: the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the rise of data science needs will create nearly 12 million job openings by 2026.
Now, to prepare American University students to become the next generation of data scientists, the College of Arts and Sciences is launching a new BS degree in Data Science this fall. The degree will prepare graduates for business, government, and academic positions that require extensive knowledge of statistics and computational tools.
Crucial Part of Today’s World
Artur Elezi, associate professor and chair of AU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, says that processing and analyzing massive amounts of data and turning them into actionable insights has become a crucial part of every decision-making entity in today's world. “The demand for data scientists is off the roof and predicted to stay here for a long time,” he explains.
In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, data science careers are growing in virtually every sector: manufacturing, construction, transportation, warehousing, communication, science, health care, computer science, information technology, retail, sales, marketing, finance, insurance, education, government, security, law enforcement, and more.
“Our university has wisely chosen data science as one of the strategic areas of investment, and our department has been working relentlessly to implement that strategy,” says Elezi.
Major Player in the Field
Elezi points out that American University already offers a young but large and vibrant master’s degree in data science. “The new bachelor’s degree will solidify AU as a major player in the field,” he says.
“Our talented faculty will offer some of the most exciting and cutting-edge courses in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data mining, combining knowledge from math, stat, and computer sciences. All our students majoring in math, computer science, physics and other disciplines will have an opportunity to enroll in these courses.”
Tracks, Credits, Requirements
The degree will offer four initial tracks: computational science, statistics, cybersecurity, and business. The degree requires fifty undergraduate credits: 23 technical core credits, and 27 application track credits.
The tracks in computational science and statistics will provide students with strong technical skills, while the business track will give them a unique combination of business and technical skills.
Elezi is particularly excited about a new partnership with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which will give cybersecurity track students field experience within the FDA’s cybersecurity operations. “All of these, and other great things happening on campus will help turn AU into a major hub of data science,” he says.