The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board (AHECB) has approved Arkansas State University’s proposal to offer a new bachelor of science degree program in data science and data analytics.
The need for data scientists and data analysts within the state and nation is growing extremely fast, as recognized in 2017 by Gov. Asa Hutchinson when he constituted a blue ribbon commission to report on “the economic competitiveness of Arkansas in data analytics and computing.”
The outcomes of the commission’s work recognized universities’ potential to contribute significantly to developing a data science and data analytics (DSDA) workforce in the state.
“We are excited to offer this new BS degree program to our students,” said Dr. Alan Utter, ASU provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “The data science and data analytics major will allow our students to compete for employment opportunities and graduate education in a wide variety of disciplines.”
Some of the special features of the DSDA degree are a capstone design experience, a credit-bearing internship experience, a 120-credit hour program where 85% of the courses already exist, and a program core that will cover content in statistics, computer science and coding, visualization, data governance and ethics.
Students will be able to choose a domain from a wide range of disciplines. Some of the domain studies in development are in the areas of health care, social sciences, engineering, computer science and geospatial technologies.
“I consider it a privilege to have facilitated an effort to develop the BS in data science and data analytics. It was an intense, collaborative effort executed over almost a year to develop a program with mostly existing courses,” said Dr. Abhijit Bhattacharyya, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
“This is a testament to the finest traditions in the university on collaborative endeavors and the recognition that data science/data analytics (DSDA) is a fast-evolving new discipline in the state and the nation. The convergence in priorities for DSDA within the state among government, industry and academia to develop the DSDA workforce also acted as a powerful motivation to develop the program,” he said.
Dr. Jason Causey of the Department of Computer Science will serve as the program’s interim director.