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iSchool announces establishment of new master’s program in applied data science

Courtesy of SU Photo and Imaging Center

The master’s program, which will be taught in conjunction with the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, will be offered both online and to students on campus.

Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies recently announced the creation of a new master’s degree program in applied data science.

The master’s program, which will be taught in conjunction with the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, will be offered both online and to students on campus starting this fall. Applications for the program have already opened. The degree is typically finished in under two years, according to an SU News release.

“I’ve always advocated a technology person has to understand how business people think and how they arrive at decisions,” said Arthur Thomas, associate dean for academic affairs in the iSchool. “And while I could take a business textbook and teach that, its far more genuine to learn from the people who are in that field.”

The approval of the program took longer than expected, Thomas said, so he expects a smaller incoming class for the fall. Down the line, he realistically expects more than 100 students to be enrolled in the program.

Most courses will be housed in the iSchool, but students are required to take several data science courses in Whitman. The offerings include accounting analytics, marketing analytics, financial analytics and principles of management science.

Don Harter, associate dean for master’s programs, said the interdisciplinary courses already exist within the Whitman School because the school offers both a master’s of science in business analytics and masters of business administration program with a concentration in business analytics.

While the business analytics master’s programs rely heavily on business courses with some aspects of technology, the applied data science program is technology-focused with some business, Harter said.

Careers in the data science field were ranked No. 1 by job search engine Glassdoor in both 2016 and 2017. The average salary for a data scientist in the U.S. is around $110,000, according to the website.

Graduates with a data science degree are not limited to one specific area of business. Harter said data analysts are being sought across many industries, including marketing companies, to track patterns across customer relations and also in finance in order to follow market trends and patterns in trading analytics.

“They can go to work at companies like Google or,” Harter said. “The options are very, very broad for students with data science degrees.”

Harter has an educational background in mathematics and big data. Before the business analytics program started, one student reached out and Harter taught him about business analytics for his MBA concentration.

That student went on to work at a top management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company. But Harter knew it was ineffective to sit down one-on-one with each and every student like he had in that case, he said. Whitman had to take on the growing field at a school-wide level, he added.

At a university-wide level, SU made its interest in data science clear after it reached out to individual schools and colleges within the university in an effort to have them collaborate and form a data science program, Thomas said.

He added that there are two approaches to data: the traditional mathematical way and a more modern way, using technology. The iSchool and Whitman have taken on the modern approach, he said.

“We have already seen our students who’ve taken our Data Science courses to be in high-demand,” said iSchool Dean Elizabeth Liddy in an email, “and then (students are) very satisfied with their exciting positions – including our iSchool alum, Sam Edelstein, the City of Syracuse’s first Chief Data Officer, a position now emerging in many cities and corporations.”


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