College of Science News
College’s Data Science bachelor degree program receives final state approval
The College of Science is expanding its offerings in an exciting and rapidly expanding field with the creation of a new B.S. degree with a major in Data Science.
The new degree program received final approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on October 22. The College has been offering Data Science courses since Fall 2018, and will have courses available for students in Spring 2021 ahead of the program’s full implementation next fall.
The B.S. degree in Data Science will require 120 semester credit hours. Degree requirements will focus on targeted skills development, including project management and communication as well as technical skills, while allowing sufficient curricular flexibility to enable basic and advanced work in one of the College’s science disciplines or other fields.
“Now that the B.S. degree has been approved, we are preparing for a full launch in Fall 2021, with updated courses, new degree plans, and an online component that supports asynchronous, synchronous, and in-person learning as well as providing the software and computing resources that the program requires,” said Amir Farbin, professor of physics and the program’s interim director.
The College began offering a minor in Data Science in Fall 2020. The minor program requires at least 19-20 semester hours of Data Science or related courses.
The College’s Data Science program was created in 2018 by Dean Morteza Khaledi, former Associate Dean James Grover, Associate Dean Minerva Cordero, and a steering committee of COS faculty and staff members.
“The goal is to prepare our students for challenges and careers in the 21st century and — given the ubiquity of the data in all fields and disciplines, and the prevalent and increasing role that data science plays — we felt that such knowledge and expertise would be essential,” Khaledi said. “Thus, we have designed an integrated degree plan that incorporates data plus a science discipline that will educate students to use data science for solving problems in different areas of science.”
The field of data science is growing rapidly, and demand from employers is strong for highly qualified professionals who can extract useful information from large amounts of complex data, Khaledi said. The new bachelor’s degree and minor options can help students enhance their appeal even more as job candidates with potential employers, he added.
“Very few data science undergraduate programs nationwide — and none in Texas — take an approach similar to ours,” Khaledi said.
The program supports Texas’ 60x30TX higher education plan, which has a goal of making sure that at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 will have a certificate or degree by 2030. It does this by providing a new pathway for current high school and two-year institution students who are STEM focused but who may have been discouraged in their desire to complete a bachelor’s degree due to lack of an accessible data science pathway.
“Students who graduate from this program will have developed strengths in data-driven problem solving and data visualization based on their ability to apply statistical and mathematical analysis using program-acquired database and programming skills,” Cordero said. “They will also have gained skills in the presentation of technical data in a form that non-technical management leaders can understand and implement. These skills are in high demand by employers.”
The new degree also supports UTA’s Strategic Plan 2020 and three of the plan’s main themes: Data-Driven Discovery, Health and the Human Condition, and Sustainable Urban Communities.
The College will offer several Data Science courses in Spring 2021. Students interested in Data Science B.S. or minor degrees are encouraged to enroll in the prefix-DATA courses being offered for the spring semester. Additional courses will be offered in subsequent semesters.
For more information, please visit the College’s Data Science program website.