UNCW to Offer M.S. in Data Science in Fall 2017

Friday, December 02, 2016

UNCW will offer a master’s degree in data science beginning in fall 2017. The University of North Carolina Board of Governors approved the new degree program at a meeting in Chapel Hill on Dec. 2.

“The new M.S. in Data Science is a valuable addition to the university’s degree offerings because it is a rapidly growing field with excellent employment prospects,” said Ron Vetter, associate provost for research and dean of the Graduate School. “The program will prepare students for employment and will involve collaboration with other departments and the business community, in keeping with goals outlined in the 2016-21 strategic plan.”

UNCW’s computer science and mathematics and statistics departments developed the program with feedback from the business community.

“Almost every industry is interested in this because of the massive increase in the collection of digital data over the last 15 years,” said Mark Lammers, graduate coordinator and professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “Students who successfully complete this program will be well-trained to compete for these highly sought-after positions in this fast-growing field.”

A report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company projects that by 2018, the United States could face a shortage of as many as 190,000 people with deep analytical skills, and up to 1.5 million analysts and managers who understand how to use data analysis to make business decisions.

Regional businesses, including Wilmington companies such as Live Oak Bank, GE and tekMountain, use large data sets in many aspects of their business.

In a statement included in UNCW’s proposal to the BOG, Julius King ’91, director of the Cary-based SAS Advanced Analytics Lab, lauded the collaborative approach “resulting in an emphasis on teaching not only traditional data analysis methods but more current machine-learning and programming skills.”

“This is exactly the mix of skills that my consulting arm at SAS Institute needs and, I believe, that the larger community of data science needs,” he wrote.

The 18-month program will cover a number of topics related to the science of data, statistical modeling and computer programming, as well as instruction in communicating analytical data effectively in a professional setting.

In addition to the math and computer science departments, the program will leverage the resources of graduate programs in other departments, including biology, the College of Health and Human Services and the Cameron School of Business. CSB is currently developing both undergraduate and graduate programs in business analytics, as well.

-- Tricia Vance