It is estimated that by 2018 there will be a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills and even fewer managers and analysts with the know-how to use big data analysis to make effective decisions.
A new master's program at Texas Tech University is aiming to change that.
Bringing together the principles of statistics, technology and business, the Rawls College of Business has developed a master of science in data science, a one-year, science, engineering, technology, mathematics (STEM)-designated program consisting of 12 courses.
Students will develop skills that will help them understand and interpret big data for use in creating sustainable organizational strategies. Course topics will be divided into three equal domains - statistics, technology and business - with many of the latter classes in the program using all three aspects of the field.
"In theory, anyone who has data they want to use to make decisions could use the skills we teach in the data science program," said Eric Walden, director of the data science program. "Astronomers, geneticists and meteorologists have been using big data for many years, but it's becoming more prevalent in business today. That is why our program has a strong business component in addition to the technology and statistics component. We really want people to be able to come up with novel ways to apply these techniques to business."
Graduates are expected to find employment in some of the more rapidly growing areas of business, medicine and applied science, such as data science, business analytics, business intelligence and big data fields. Both the Harvard Business Review and Forbes have called data science one of the best areas of employment in recent years with an ever-increasing ceiling.
Walden said between statistics and management information systems, the Rawls College of Business has offered a "data science-flavored degree" for years. After analyzing the curriculum a couple of years ago and understanding the demand for data scientists, the decision was made to formally change the name of the program to Data Science.
"A lot of people recognized what we knew years ago, that data science is important," Walden said. "The timing was right, so we did it."
The Center for Advanced Analytics and Business Intelligence, founded in 2004 by Horn Professor Peter Westfall, plays a key role in the program, Walden said.
The program offers courses covering subjects such as big data strategy, multivariate analysis, predictive analytics, business intelligence, data and text mining and decision theory and business analytics. Students also learn a variety of technologies used to analyze data, including R, Hadoop, Python and SAS and relational databases.
Walden said even with Texas Tech and other schools churning out data science experts, there still will be a massive shortfall in the coming years as companies continue to increase the variety and quantity of data they gather from both people and internet-enabled objects."
"This is why so many universities are trying to educate people in data science," Walden said.
Walden added that response to the new Texas Tech program has been good so far with about 100 applicants for this year.
"Our main difficulty is in getting people to quit good jobs and come back to school for a year to have a great job," Walden said.
For more information on the master's of data science offered by the Rawls College of Business, visit its website.