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New Data Science Degree Prepares Students for Emerging Careers

Humans create a staggering amount of data. It happens every time we search online, share a photo on social media, or send a text. It’s estimated that by the New Year, 1.7 megabytes of information will be created every second for every human being on Earth.* As more and more companies recognize opportunities for creating value from data, experts who can make sense of all that data increasingly are in high demand. Southern’s new bachelor’s degree program in data science equips students with the skills they need to thrive in this fast-growing, lucrative field — which LinkedIn called the “most promising in the United States,” with a median base salary of $130,000 and a 56 percent increase in job openings in the last year.

“The data science field is exploding with opportunity,” said Aaron S. Clark, professor and chair, Mathematics Department. “Qualified experts are needed to help industries navigate the sheer amount of data being created, maintained and shared.”

In its simplest terms, data science is the science of everything associated with data: the creation of algorithms, software, and techniques, mathematical/statistical theory and practice of analysis, theory and practice of visualization and presentation, and data engineering.

“Data science is about extracting meaningful information from data,” Imad Antonios, professor of computer science. “It comprises skills and competencies from computer science, statistics, and domain expertise.”

If you’re a quantitatively minded problem solver, communicate effectively to a range of audiences, and have a knack for telling stories with data, Southern’s B.S. in data science helps you hone your skills as you move through your course work. Students begin learning data science their very first semester. Coursework covers a variety of topics, from computer science and mathematics including data mining, machine learning, web and database development, Bayesian analysis, time series analysis, and non-parametric statistics.

“This is a great field for students who are technically-minded and intellectually curious, and who thrive on the challenge of teasing out the truths hidden in massive data sets,” Clark said.

Students also complete a capstone project that incorporates all stages of the data science pipeline.

“The capstone project provides students with an opportunity to apply skills from their earlier coursework to solve a data problem,” Antonios said. “Students learn domain understanding and problem analysis, data acquisition, data cleaning, model building and evaluation, and they communicate the results.”

While the data science field may be technical in nature, its applications are interdisciplinary, from medical care and research, pharmaceuticals, compliance management systems, insurance, marketing, and more.

““There are many sub-fields within data science,” Clark said. “Graduates from the new data science program will be able to find their niche and continually customize their skill set throughout their career.”

Opportunities in the field show no signs of slowing. Currently, between 60 percent and 73 percent of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics* so if you’re ready to pursue a career in data science, the possibilities are endless.

Learn more about the B.S. in data science, request information, and apply.

*Sources: Forbes, Forrester


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