Innovation happens at a rapid pace, and at the iSchool, it’s our mission to ensure students are studying at the leading-edge of their field. That’s why this year we are introducing new elements to our Applied Data Science master’s degree, including new specializations, a reduction in credits, and a portfolio reflection course at the end of the program.

With the updated curriculum, students now have the opportunity to specialize their degree with one of three tracks: Data and Business Analytics, Language Analytics, and Data Pipelines and Platforms. Students can choose between a variety of courses in their area of specialization to tailor their degree to their career interests as well as take electives in other areas of data science.

“We added these tracks because the data science field is maturing,” said Jeff Saltz, the Applied Data Science Program Director. “The field is evolving to have many different areas of focus. These new tracks allow students to explore specific interests and the tracks also show employers their areas of specialization.”

Saltz is also excited about the potential to develop more tracks in the future, as the field of data science continues to advance.

Another improvement that will be beneficial for students is that the program has been restructured so that it is possible to complete it in only one year. Previously the program took 18-24 months to complete, but the new structure provides students with the flexibility to complete the 34-credit requirement in one year via a combination of intensive courses, summer courses and two traditional semester terms.

Additionally, via a non-credit program milestone, students were previously required to reflect on their portfolio of projects. In the new curriculum, this portfolio reflection has been expanded to a one-credit course, designed to expand their reflection of the projects that were completed during the program.

“We decided to increase the focus on the portfolio because we’ve found that it’s been such a valuable learning opportunity for students to reflect on what they’ve learned throughout their time in the program,” said Saltz. “Since it will now be a one-credit course, this will give students more time to really reflect on what they have learned via their projects.”

Other key changes to the program include the addition of a quantitative reasoning course to the primary core and a new data science elective.

With all of these improvements, in order to graduate students will need to take 18 credits of primary core courses in data science, 6 credits from the track of their choosing, 9 elective credits, and the 1 credit portfolio reflection course. Saltz is optimistic that these enhancements will make the program more valuable for students in preparing them for data science roles after completing the degree.

“The updated program allows students to think through different alternatives for paths in data science. They’ll learn exactly how they want to use data science for a career,” he said.

To learn more about the Masters in Applied Data Science program or to apply, please visit our ADS program page for more information.