by Joy Biscornét, former admissions officer at Boston College
Interested in a future in the technology sector, but unsure of the options beyond programming? Consider data science.
Data science is a rapidly growing field of study that utilizes algorithms, machine learning, and other tools to find patterns from unstructured data. Data scientists take a forward-looking approach through building models and analyzing data to predict outcomes and inform decisions. They provide information in today’s data-driven society to solve complex problem. Deeply rooted in mathematics, statistics, and computer science, data science also requires business/domain expertise. Social media, travel, heath care, and automation are just a few domains in which data science is valuable. In addition, successful data scientists must have strong communication skills in order to explain their findings to their non-data-focused colleagues.
Although data science is not as common as computer science or mathematics at the undergraduate level, colleges continue to add this major in response to student interest. University of California, Berkeley graduated its first cohort of data scientists in 2019. Other institutions that offer a bachelor’s degree in data science include Drexel University, University of Michigan, College of Charleston, and Smith College. If a school does not offer data science as a major, check to see if a minor or a concentration is available. You might also consider a dual/double major in computer science and statistics, with the goal of obtaining a master’s degree in data science.
Students planning to study data science should expect to take coursework in business, ethics, and psychology along with computer science, mathematics, and statistics. Data science provides the opportunity to work in tech while drawing on other areas on interests such as cognition, economics, and environmental science. Graduates go on to careers in a wide array of fields from software engineering to asset management to sales.
If you are excited by the idea of using big data to impact the world around you, then data science might just be the path for you.