The University of Michigan-Dearborn will offer a new, interdisciplinary master’s program in data science beginning this fall. Through the program, students will aim to analyze and interpret data common in daily life. This data could range from traffic intersections to social media.

If accepted into the graduate program, students must complete 30 credit hours in the Master of Science in Data Science to receive a degree. There are required cores and technical electives needed to complete the 30 credits. The electives will allow students to prepare for professional settings in data analytics, business applications and computational informatics.  

The main goals of the program focus on complex data, analyzing the opportunities and drawbacks of the data. Additionally, students will learn to develop data solutions and communicate them to their audience.

Marouane Kessentini, assistant professor in computer and information science at UM-Dearborn, explained the program is particularly exciting because of its interdisciplinary nature. It provides opportunities for different departments to collaborate, including the business, engineering and math departments. Kessentini said the program attracts students from a range of “wide skills in business analytics, statistics and programming skills.”

UM-Dearborn Ph.D. candidate Hanzhang Wang will be working with the incoming fall graduate students on his data science research projects. His research revolves around software evolution, which is the way that software progresses through time with new updates and increased functionality.

“These projects are needed to apply data science techniques to actually explore the true value of this data,” Wang said. “If you use the wrong techniques, you wouldn’t understand them in the correct way.”

Kessentini proposed a new course called Data Finds in Software Engineering for the program. Kessentini explained the course will deal with the evolution of software systems.

“(It) will give students the right skills to analyze the huge amounts of data that comes from software development,” Kessentini said.

The graduate program has received support from local industries, which is partly the reason why the program was initiated. Data scientists are in high demand across the country, as society has an increasing amount of collected data as technology advances. According to a 2017 CBS report, the number one job in the U.S., paying approximately $110,000 per year, is a data scientist.  

The new program is not limited to computer science undergraduate majors. Prospective students are expected to come from business, math, statistics, engineering and science backgrounds.

Qiang Zhu, computer and information science department chair who worked to develop the new data science program, found it necessary to establish such a graduate school program in today’s world, she said in a press release.

“For many application problems such as autonomous vehicle control and smart automotive commerce, the solution lies in the data,” Zhu said. “Our job is to prepare students to know what to look for and how to find it.”

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