Data Science

Program Overview, Updated July 10, 2019Data

The B.S. in data science produces graduates with the sophisticated analytical and computational skills required to thrive in a quantitative world where new problems are encountered at an ever-increasing rate. The major emphasizes the statistical/probabilistic and algorithmic methods that underlie the preparation, analysis, and communication of complex data. With focus on technical foundations, the data science program promotes skills useful for creating and implementing new or special-purpose analysis and visualization tools. It also promotes a fundamental understanding of how to best handle uncertainty when making data-driven decisions.

Students develop data preparation skills including writing software to obtain, extract, merge, clean, and/or transform the raw data. Analysis or information extraction methods include machine and statistical learning, statistical modeling and inference, and algorithm efficiency analysis. Data visualization, report writing, and oral presentations are important communication methods. The major includes two capstone courses that emphasize communication, ethics, and teamwork.

The Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science and the Department of Computer Science collaborate to offer the major in data science. The B.S. in data science is administered by the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science.

Flow Chart   Printable Sample Schedule

Learning Outcomes

Data Curation Skills  

Graduates will be able to:

  • understand issues associated with data collection, management, provenance, storage, merging, sharing, and preparation;
  • work with multiple-source, multiple-format data;
  • investigate the quality of the data; and
  • have a basic understanding of ethical and confidentiality issues associated with data collection, storage, merging, and sharing

Computational Skills

Graduates will be able to:

  • use critical thinking skills to translate substantive questions into well-defined computational problems and choose appropriate computational techniques for a given problem;
  • understand the foundational software skills and associated algorithmic and computational problem-solving methods used in computer science;
  • be proficient in computational methods for collecting, managing, storing, preparing, sharing, and describing data numerically and graphically from a variety of sources to design and carry out basic simulation studies; and
  • use professional statistical software and understand the principles of programming and algorithmic problem solving that underlie these packages.

Statistical/Probablilistic Skills

Graduates will be able to:

  • use critical thinking skills to translate substantive questions into well-defined statistical or probability problems and choose the appropriate graphical or numerical descriptive and/or inferential statistical techniques for a given problem;
  • understand the importance of, and issues related to, the choice of the study design, such as designed experiment vs. probability sample vs. convenience sample, used to produce data; 
  • understand that uncertainty, variability, and randomness play significant roles in data-driven decision making;
  • understand how to measure and display uncertainty, the effect of randomness, confidence/credibility, and the likelihood of incorrect inferences;
  • understand and be able to explain common misperceptions, paradoxes, and fallacies of probability and statistics; and
  • understand basic regression, prediction, simulation, and visualization methods.

Mathematical Skills

Graduates will:

  • have a firm grasp of the mathematical tools underlying statistical and computational methods which are primarily based on ideas in calculus, linear algebra, and discrete mathematics, including distribution theory, uncertainty quantification (e.g., probability theory), the probabilistic basis of formal statistical inference, models, and algorithms, and combinatorial analysis and recursion, which are used for algorithmic analysis, design, and for distribution theory.

Communication Skills

Graduates will be able to:

  • clearly justify and communicate study results to a nontechnical audience;
  • write accurate and meaningful reports that describe the statistical and computational analyses and summarize important findings; and 
  • work effectively as part of a team to address substantive questions that can be handled using statistical and computational methods.

Requirements

The Bachelor of Science with a major in data science requires a minimum of 120 s.h., including at least 59 s.h. of work for the major. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 in all courses for the major and in all UI courses for the major. They also must complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core

Data science majors may not earn a major or minor in computer science or statistics, a major in computer science and engineering, the Certificate in Large Data Analysis, or the Certificate in Social Science Analytics.

The B.S. with a major in data science requires the following course work.

 

Prerequisite Courses

12-16

Core Courses

26

Advanced Courses

9

Advanced Electives

9

Capstone Courses

3

Total Hours

59-63

 

Prerequisite Courses

Students choose one of the following sequences.

These:

 

MATH:1550

Engineering Mathematics I: Single Variable Calculus

4

MATH:1560

Engineering Mathematics II: Multivariable Calculus

4

MATH:2700

Introduction to Linear Algebra

4

Or these:

 

MATH:1850

Calculus I

4

MATH:1860

Calculus II

4

MATH:2700

Introduction to Linear Algebra

4

MATH:2850

Calculus III

4

 

Core Courses

All of these:

 

CS:1210

Computer Science I: Fundamentals

4

CS:2210

Discrete Structures

3

CS:2230

Computer Science II: Data Structures

4

CS:3330

Algorithms

3

STAT:2010

Statistical Methods and Computing

3

STAT:3100 / IGPI:3100

Introduction to Mathematical Statistics I

3

STAT:3101 / IGPI:3101

Introduction to Mathematical Statistics II

3

STAT:3200

Applied Linear Regression

3

 

Advanced Courses

Both of these:

 

CS:4400

Database Systems

3

STAT:4580 / IGPI:4580

Data Visualization and Data Technologies

3

One of these:

 

CS:5430

Machine Learning

3

STAT:4540 / IGPI:4540

Statistical Learning

3

 

Advanced Electives

Three of these, with at least one computer science course and one statistics course:

 

CS:4440

Web Mining

3

CS:4470

Health Data Analytics

3

CS:4700 / Math:4860

High Performance and Parallel Computing

3

CS:5630

Cloud Computing Technology

3

STAT:3210

Experimental Design and Analysis

3

STAT:4520 / IGPI:4522 / IGPI:4520

Bayesian Statistics

3

STAT:4560

Statistics for Risk Modeling

3

STAT:5810 / BIOS:5310 / IGPI:5310

Research Data Management

3

Other advanced computer science or statistics courses approved by advisor

 

 

Capstone Courses

Both of these:

 

STAT:4880

Data Science Creative Component

1

STAT:4890

Data Science Practicum

2

 

B.S./M.S. in Business Analytics (Career Subprogram)

Students majoring in data science who are interested in earning a master's degree in business analytics with a career subprogram may apply to the combined B.S./M.S. program offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Tippie College of Business. The program enables students to begin the study of business analytics before they complete their bachelor's degree. Students are able to complete both degrees in five years rather than six.

Separate application to each degree program is required. Applicants must be admitted to both programs before they may be admitted to the combined degree program. For information about the business analytics program, see the M.S. in business analytics (career) in the Tippie College of Business in the Catalog.

B.S./M.S. in Finance

Students majoring in data science who are interested in earning a master's degree in finance may apply to the combined B.S./M.S. program offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Tippie College of Business. The program enables students to begin the study of finance before they complete their bachelor's degree. Students are able to complete both degrees in five years rather than six.

Separate application to each degree program is required. Applicants must be admitted to both programs before they may be admitted to the combined degree program. For information about the finance program, see the M.S. in finance(Tippie College of Business) in the Catalog.

Honors in the Major

Students majoring in data science have the opportunity to graduate with honors in the major. They must must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 3.67 in their major and a cumulative University of Iowa g.p.a. of at least 3.33. Students must complete an honors thesis.

Students are responsible for finding a faculty member willing to supervise their honors project. The faculty member must approve the proposed project and a timetable for the work. Credit for thesis work must be earned in either CS:3990 Honors in Computer Science or Informatics for work supervised by a computer science faculty member or an honors course supervised by a statistics and actuarial science faculty member.

Honors in data science also satisfies the 12 s.h. experiential learning requirement for University of Iowa honors students.

University of Iowa Honors Program

In addition to honors in the major, students have opportunities for honors study and activities through membership in the University of Iowa Honors Program. Visit Honors at Iowa to learn about the University's honors program.

Membership in the UI Honors Program is not required to earn honors in the data science major.

Four-Year Graduation Plan

The Four-Year Graduation Plan is not available to students majoring in data science. Students work with their advisors on individual graduation plans.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans represent one way to complete a program of study. Actual course selection and sequence will vary and should be discussed with an academic advisor. For additional sample plans, see MyUI.

Data Science, B.S.

First Year, Fall

Hours

MATH:1550

Engineering Mathematics I: Single Variable Calculus a, b

4

ENGL:1200

or RHET:1030

The Interpretation of Literature

or Rhetoric

3 - 4

CS:1210

Computer Science I: Fundamentals

4

GE CLAS Core: World Languages First Level Proficiency or elective course c

4 - 5

CSI:1600

Success at Iowa

2

 

Hours

17-19

First Year, Spring

MATH:1560

Engineering Mathematics II: Multivariable Calculus

4

STAT:2010

Statistical Methods and Computing

3

CS:2210

Discrete Structures

3

ENGL:1200

or RHET:1030

The Interpretation of Literature

or Rhetoric

3 - 4

GE CLAS Core: World Languages Second Level Proficiency or elective coursec

4 - 5

 

Hours

17-19

Second Year, Fall

STAT:3200

Applied Linear Regression

3

CS:2230

Computer Science II: Data Structures

4

GE CLAS Core: Natural Sciences without Lab d

3

GE CLAS Core: Historical Perspectives d

3

GE CLAS Core: World Languages Second Level Proficiency or elective coursec

4 - 5

 

Hours

17-18

Second Year, Spring

CS:3330

Algorithms

3

MATH:2700

Introduction to Linear Algebra

4

GE CLAS Core: International and Global Issues d

3

GE CLAS Core: World Languages Fourth Level Proficiency or elective coursec

4 - 5

Elective course e

3

 

Hours

17-18

Third Year, Fall

STAT:3100

Introduction to Mathematical Statistics I f

3

CS:4400

Database Systems

3

GE CLAS Core: Natural Sciences with Lab d

4

GE CLAS Core: Social Sciences d

3

Elective course e

3

 

Hours

16

Third Year, Spring

CS:5430

or STAT:4540

Machine Learning

or Statistical Learning

3

STAT:3101

Introduction to Mathematical Statistics II h

3

STAT:4580

Data Visualization and Data Technologies h

3

GE CLAS Core: Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts d

3

Elective course e

3

 

Hours

15

Fourth Year, Fall

Major: advanced elective I course i

3

Major: advanced elective II course i

3

GE CLAS Core: Diversity and Inclusion d

3

STAT:4880

Data Science Creative Component

1

Elective course e

3

 

Hours

13

Fourth Year, Spring

Major: advanced elective III course i

3

GE CLAS Core: Values and Culture d

3

STAT:4890

Data Science Practicum

2

Elective course e

1

Elective course e

3

Degree Application: apply on MyUI before deadline (typically in February for spring, September for fall) j

 

 

Hours

12

 

Total Hours

124-130

a

Enrollment in math courses requires completion of a placement exam.

b

Fulfills a major requirement and may fulfill a GE requirement.

c

Students who have completed four years of a single language in high school have satisfied the GE CLAS Core World Languages requirement. Enrollment in world languages courses requires a placement exam, unless enrolling in a first-semester-level course.

d

GE CLAS Core courses may be completed in any order unless used as a prerequisite for another course. Students should consult with an advisor about the best sequencing of courses.

e

Students may use elective courses to earn credit towards the total s.h. required for graduation or to complete a double major, minors, or certificates.

f

Typically this course is offered in fall semesters only. Check MyUI for course availability since offerings are subject to change.

g

Typically STAT:4540 is offered in fall semesters only and CS:5430 is offered in spring semesters only. Check MyUI for course availability since offerings are subject to change.

h

Typically, this course is offered in spring semesters only. Check MyUI for course availability since offerings are subject to change.

i

Students should select at least one computer science course and one statistics course for their advanced electives.

j

Please see Academic Calendar, Office of the Registrar website for current degree application deadlines. Students should apply for a degree for the session in which all requirements will be met. For any questions on appropriate timing, contact your academic advisor. For more information visit http://commencement.uiowa.edu/. If applicable see the "Early and Late Participation" page (e.g. walk in graduation ceremony in May, degree conferral in August).

Career Advancement

Today, nearly every business, government, social media platform and educational institution collects and analyzes data about its users, logistics and operations, and media presence in the hope of extracting valuable insights and utilizing the resulting efficiencies.

As an example, Amazon, is the company most closely identified with a data-driven business model. Starting just over 20 years ago as an online book seller with a relatively crude crowdsourced book review platform and simple recommender system technology, it was subsequently augmented with extensive tracking of customer page views, advertising hits, data about prior purchases, and an aggressive emphasis on data-driven operational efficiencies. Amazon has become the major player in U.S. retail and a prime example of the strategic value of big data.

Data science graduates may pursue careers as data scientists. This position allows then to apply their understanding of both statistics as well as algorithm and software design to create and develop the next generation of data analysis tools.

The Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

 

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Data science is an umbrella term that encompasses data analytics, data mining, machine learning, and several other related disciplines. While a data scientist is expected to forecast the future based on past patterns, data analysts extract meaningful insights from various data sources.