UTEP to Offer New Doctoral Degree in Data Science
Last Updated on August 18, 2020 at 12:00 AM
Originally published August 18, 2020
By UC Staff
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recently approved a new doctoral degree in data science that The University of Texas at El Paso will “soft launch” with some initial courses during the spring 2021 semester. The program’s full introduction will be the fall of 2021*.
Data science is a combination of mathematical, statistical and computing skills that can be applied to find innovative uses for existing technology as well as invent and design new analytical approaches. Data science professionals are needed in almost any field, and they play major roles in finance, government, utilities and high-tech industries.
Graduates of the new doctoral program will address one of the country’s critical workforce needs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for data scientists is almost $123,000 and the demand for them will grow 16% in the next eight years.
The doctorate in data science will be offered through the Graduate School and housed in the Department of Mathematical Sciences within UTEP’s College of Science. It will serve as a University hub for data science-related projects.
This program should increase diversity within the data science profession and provide a mechanism of social mobility for UTEP students to enter a marketable and influential 21st century profession, said Amy Wagler, Ph.D., associate chair of UTEP’s Department of Mathematical Sciences and the director of the new degree program.
“The insight gained contributed by data scientists will drive discovery in everything from medicine, business, education, and national security, among other areas,” Wagler said. “Data scientists are not only in high demand, but people working in data-intensive fields report some of the highest levels of job satisfaction out there. If you want to add value to an organization and be a leader as well as a team player, this is a career you should consider.”
UTEP and community partnerships will sustain the program in order to fund student research, provide student salaries and engage students in experiential learning. The program, which was designed after and aligned with current recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences and the American Statistical Association, will develop the University’s capacity in this field as well as generate interdisciplinary and interinstitutional opportunities for data science research collaborations.
Students in this program will build a solid foundation in the field’s core skills (mathematics, statistics and computing), develop advanced problem-solving skills and apply them in context-rich settings.
“Our graduates will be part of a new generation of data science professionals who will lead scientific and technical thought in the next century,” Wagler said.
The University of Texas at El Paso is one of the largest and most successful Hispanic-serving institutions in the country, with a student body that is over 80% Hispanic. It enrolls more than 25,000 students in 166 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in 10 colleges and schools. With more than $100 million in total annual research expenditures, UTEP is ranked in the top 5% of research institutions nationally and fifth in Texas for federal research expenditures at public universities.
*Pending Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) approval.