iSchool launches new undergraduate degree in data science

In the Fall 2022 semester, the iSchool will offer a new degree, the Bachelor of Science in Information Sciences + Data Science (BS/IS+DS). The degree is part of a campus-wide partnership to provide interdisciplinary education in data science. It consists of a collaboration between the iSchool and other colleges, including the Gies College of Business, Computer Science Department in the Grainger College of Engineering, and the Department of Statistics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Data science is the art of extracting new knowledge and finding meaningful information in a vast amount of data. Its guiding principles include data collection, storage, integration, analysis, inference, communication, and ethics. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 27.9% growth in data science occupations from 2016 to 2026. The new degree programs at the University of Illinois will prepare students to work in data science roles in marketing, finance, healthcare, government—any industry that generates data.

The BS/IS+DS will require a total of 123 course credit hours and include cross-college courses in mathematical foundations, data science fundamentals, computational fundamentals, and social impact in data science. In addition to coursework, students are required to complete six hours of meaningful research or discovery experiences, such as a practicum, independent study, or approved study abroad coursework.

"Our School is uniquely positioned to provide students with the skills they need to be successful in the rapidly growing field of data science," said Dean and Professor Eunice E. Santos. "We currently offer data science pathways in two of our degree programs and have a number of faculty working in this important research area, so partnering with other units on campus on the new data science degrees is a natural next step. Students in the BS/IS+DS will learn how to derive and present impactful insights from data, leading to a deeper understanding that builds knowledge and wisdom. It is the human-centered approach we take toward data collection, analysis, and visualization that sets the iSchool apart."

Continuing University of Illinois students may apply to transfer into the BS/IS+DS program for the upcoming fall semester, while new students may apply to the program for fall 2023 admission.

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