Data science is the new "Hot Major"

In this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle newspaper Business section, was a article about the new rush in the UC system to create new major as demand in workplace soars. Apparently this is the fastest growing program at UC Berkeley!
The article goes on to mention that the job title " data scientist"topped Glassdoor’s 50 Best Jobs in America for the second consecutive year in 2017.

The idea of “data science” isn’t new. Other schools have been doing it a while, and it normally falls into the engineering department. Big Data and analytics have grown out of the massive datasets that companies have been storing and generally ignoring. As companies like Amazon commoditize storage and services, “data science” will be part of the offering.

I’ve hired students from Columbia’s program, and they’ve worked out really well.

I personally would be a bit worried about starting a 17 or 18 year old on what you assume is a “data” career. AI and robotics (IMO) will take a lot of this work away from the lower levels over the next 10 years. Those in it now are doing really well…but for how long?

If my child would enjoy an engineering or CS curriculum, I would investigate. A lot of this “science” is running models in programming languages (like “R”). If your child enjoys that type of work, it might be a fit.


I sell software targeted at data scientists. IMHO anyone with a math, CS, statistics (is that even a degree?), or accounting degree (maybe Econ too) would be a pretty strong candidate for a data science job. I would be hesitant to recommend an undergrad get an actual “Data Science” degree as it would be less flexible than math/CS/etc for job placement.

Essentially you need a strong math background, particularly statistics, and a logical/analytical/curious mindset. And a decent programming background, preferrably R. And some exposure to database technology, whether RDBMS or noSQL it doesn’t really matter.

^^sounds like my son to a “T” and he is a CS major.

Statistics IS a major- and good schools have their own departments. We once had a neighbor who had left a professorial job in academia to work in the private sector- logistics work. He later left for another academic job closer to his home town. Yes, you can get a PhD in statistics as well as a bachelor’s degree (BA or BS at UW depending on meeting different breadth requirements along with those for the major).

Yes, there are statistics major programs at the bachelor’s and higher level.

Quantitative economics or finance would be more suitable than accounting.

^^^ Sounds about right - I don’t know much about Econ or finance degrees.

Note, however, that most economics or finance majors are not that quantitative unless the student chooses additional math and statistics electives.

I agree with ^^^^. As an accounting major and CPA…I wouldn’t take accounting (or Econ) in college. Math, engineering and CS are the degrees I now hire (within a finance analytics group).

Currently at Berkeley and many students feel that Data Science may end up being the “cop out” major if they can’t make the cut for CS. I truly hope the administration focuses on increasing the number of different professors and lectures for these classes as CS 61A (intro CS class) has almost 2000 students and my current data class has ~800.

CS interest has been exploding in recent years (and not just at UCB).

To the extent that data science is now a “hot” subject, that is likely to further increase demand for CS as well as statistics courses.

UCB does not have data science as a standalone undergraduate major yet, but may do so in the future. But there has been high interest in introductory data science courses.

@ucbalumnus Several professors have confirmed that the data science major and minor will be created by the end of this academic year or the next, so it’ll be exciting to see in the coming years.

At Wesleyan, it’s already a minor:

Data science positions are consistent with what others are saying. They have been looking for a combination of CS, math, and statistics knowledge.

Northeastern started a Data Science major in 2015-2016. If you look at the degree, the possible classes you can take, etc, you’ll see it ranges a ton as others have said. Data Science is very much a combined area that I would argue is more applying other fields than its own field itself. Data Science at Northeastern closely relates with CS and then sprinkles in various statistics and your choice of fields including finance, marking, game design, biology, healthcare, cyber security and more. It’s an incredibly wide field largely because it’s basically taking technology and applying it to existing fields now that we collect so much data.

Are these data science programs being set up as stand alone departments or just drawing upon existing departments/classes to create the major? (there’s a word for this that isn’t coming to my old brain right now)

I would imagine more and more schools will jump on this bandwagon like they’ve done with majors like environmental science/studies and ethnic, race, migration type majors which have become increasingly popular.

Daughter will graduate next May with an engineering degree. She has the option to complete an accelerated one year Master’s degree which would be in Data Analytics Engineering. If only she would listen to me but she has other plans.

@raclut Data Science may be hot now but it may be saturated in 5-10 years, who knows. I wouldn’t encourage someone to go into it unless they had a real passion for it. Often data work can be even more boring than a basic programming or engineering job (at least in the eyes of many). Obviously, I don’t know if your daughter would enjoy / have a passion for the field, but I am assuming not based on the fact she has other plans.

“or just drawing upon existing departments/classes to create the major? (there’s a word for this that isn’t coming to my old brain right now)”

Interdisciplinary. DOH! #-o

^Yeah, this. I work with data scientists on a regular basis and have the advanced statistical training myself. You have to really love digging into the statistics, analyzing patterns from data, working with large datasets all day…it’s lots of math! Not the kind of like “oh this is popular so let me do this” major.

I also agree with whoever said in 5-10 years it’ll be done by mostly computer programs and AI. Our data science team is expanding, but what you’ll need to differentiate yourself is higher-order mathematical/statistical skills AND a creativity of thought to explain the patterns that you’re finding in the data. You can program a machine to run the math, and in a few years you can reliably program a machine to find the patterns for you. The interpretation and application are going to be the important human jobs. (So for the love of god take 1-2 behavioral science classes…)

I also do agree that I think the data science majors are a fad…they mostly seem to be interdisciplinary computer science + statistics/applied math majors. I think majoring in one (likely math or stats) and minoring in the other (computer science) is just as or more valid a choice.