Nearly every feature of our society has been touched by the accumulation of data at different scales and, as such, data science — the analysis and extraction of knowledge and meaning from data — has become an established field with many highly sought careers. The ability to collect, model and analyze vast volumes of data has transformed scientific, commercial and humanitarian enterprises and institutions, bringing significant advances such as individualized cancer therapies and facial recognition-based security technologies. However, the abundant use and sharing of data and algorithms raise pressing ethical challenges.
The data science and computing program major and minor inclusively empower UC Merced undergraduates to creatively and ethically apply data science mastery to any scientific domain of study at UC Merced, as well as to the academic, commercial and humanitarian pursuits of their dreams. Graduates will be prepared to tackle real-world problems with foundational skills and knowledge in communication, ethics, computing, statistics, machine learning and domain applications.
The data science and computing major includes domain specializations for every major program within the School of Natural Sciences as well as programs in other schools. This includes applied mathematics, biology, chemistry, environmental systems science, physics and materials science and engineering. Students also have the option to design their own custom domain specializations.
The data science and computing minor was intentionally designed to be broadly accessible. The minor provides a calculus-free path to data science education that can be flexibly combined with any other major on campus.
Graduates will be prepared to enter careers in technology, public service, research and many other fields where rigorous and ethical analysis of large data sets is crucial to success. The program’s curriculum is tailor-made for data scientists, providing the specific core skills and knowledge that are desired by employers when hiring data science graduates.
Beyond the job tracks narrowly defined as “data science,” the analytical and technical skills the major will provide, in conjunction with domain expertise, will make graduates highly employable within other fields of interest. Data scientists exist in a variety of contexts, we envision this program will prepare students for “data science” jobs in industry including:
In addition, increasingly, data science competencies are sought after in fields not traditionally associated with computer science. As such, data science training improves the ability of candidates for a range of disciplinary jobs that are not explicitly “data science.”