New Data Science minor and certificate to be offered in fall 2018

Annie Cassutt

In the spring of 2016, subcommittee of the 23 member university-wide data science academic coordinating group began the process of creating a new minor and certificate called Data Science. The committee represented almost all undergraduate colleges at Iowa State, and worked extremely long and hard to make sure the new minor and certificate were the best they could be.

Hridesh Rajan is in charge of the new data science article, but he wanted to acknowledge the hard work of many others in creating this minor and certificate. In particular Rajan mentioned Dr. Arne Hallam, the Associate Dean of the College of LAS; Dr. Gordon Miller, the LAS Curriculum Committee Chair; and Dr. Sriram Sundararajan, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

The official approval date of the data science minor and certificate happened last spring. The minor is offered to any undergraduate student at Iowa State, and the certificate is offered to not only undergraduates, but also graduate students who earned their undergraduates elsewhere.

Rajan believes that this new degree is important because in today’s world, so many decisions already driven my data.

“In this world where decisions are data driven, where information that you receive or don’t receive could be the result of some data pipeline doing something,” Rajan said. “I feel that it’s important that students at ISU gain an understanding of how that process comes to be, and have familiarity with the ideas.”

In order to receive the minor students are required to take nine credits of core courses and six credits of electives. For the certificate students need nine credits of core courses, nine credits of electives, and six capstone credits.

Though the minor and certificate are not available until the fall of 2018, students can still begin to take classes to count towards them. The classes available to take next semester are Data Science (DS) 201, 202, and 301.

“Since folks have become familiar with the program, they are already preparing themselves that when it comes to be, they will be ready to go,” Rajan said.                 

Rajan stressed that the data science minor and certificate is something that can be beneficial to student of all majors and that they should give a class a try if they are even considering a minor or certificate in data science.

“The way that the degree programs are structured, is such that it makes it easier to include that into their existing majors,” Rajan said. “It is certainly a skill that if they walk away with from Iowa State, it’s going to add a different dimension to…how they view themselves in the next decade.”

The minor and certificate are essentially both interdisciplinary degrees

“Data science is in fact permeating a large number of different disciplines, just as computing had in the 1980’s,” Rajan said.

Rajan was very appreciative of the sub committee and all the extra hours they put into their already busy schedules. The committee spent countless hours gathering requirements to make the data science degree the best it could be.

“We had lots of listening sessions where we had faculty, students come in and give us feedback about it,” Rajan said.

There was an emailing list that also gathered feedback from numerous people.

“It was fun to have these discussions and making sure that we give all the stakeholders ample opportunities to weigh in,” Rajan said.

The biggest obstacle they faced during this process, according to Rajan, was time.

“Once everything got written…we had to figure out now which committees have to approve at what point in order or this to actually happen,” Rajan said.

Any students who are interested in this can start signing up for classes for next spring.