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October 10, 2019

UC Berkeley Launches Data Science Minor Program

Oct. 10, 2019 — The College of Letters & Science, College of Natural Resources, and College of Chemistry have approved the new data science minor, a program designed to serve students from a range of majors. Approval processes across the campus continue, with the hope of making the minor available to as many Berkeley students as possible this academic year.

“The minor is part of an overall effort to allow students to engage with data science in many ways,” said Bob Jacobsen, Interim Dean of Data Science “We want a spectrum of options, from connectorsmodules and other courses up to the major and minor, so that at whatever level students want to engage, there’s a spot for them.”

Laura Imai, the program’s Director of Advising, said her team hopes to begin accepting applications to declare later this semester so students can graduate with the minor in Spring 2020. Students will be able to select from two pathways based on their backgrounds and interests. The flexible design reflects Berkeley’s open and comprehensive approach to data science, which recognizes that data-intensive discovery is becoming increasingly important across the sciences, engineering fields, social sciences, and humanities.

“We hope the new minor will serve a broad, diverse population,” said Cathryn Carson, faculty lead for the Data Science Education Program in the Division of Data Science and Information. “When we surveyed students two years ago, we were struck by the appeal of the minor for students who have historically had less access to quantitative fields. It’s critically important for Berkeley to create opportunities for everyone to participate in data science.”

Along with the entry point of the popular Foundations of Data Science (Data 8) course, the minor incorporates Berkeley’s signature classes on Human Contexts and Ethics, which equip students to understand and act on the human and social implications of data. The two pathways available to minors include one via Data 100 for students with backgrounds in linear algebra and calculus, and another via Statistics 131A and 133 suitable for those with one semester of calculus.

 Data science minors will graduate with a working knowledge of statistics, probability, and computation that will enable them to design and carry out rigorous computational and inferential analyses.

“Data Science skills are useful in so many fields and careers,” said Professor Karen Chapple, a faculty member in City and Regional Planning who led the process of designing the minor. “We’re delighted that the minor has multiple pathways that will make it even more broadly accessible.”

The minor comes just a year after Berkeley launched its data science major. More than 80 students graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Data Science last year, and another 680 students have declared the major.

Advising Director Imai said she anticipates hundreds of students will declare the minor as soon as it becomes available. “We get inquiries from students about the minor nearly every day,” she said. “We’ve been hearing from students in majors as diverse as English, Peace and Conflict Studies, and Public Health who have discovered an interest in data science but aren’t able to double major. Some of these students want to work as data scientists; others want to have a better understanding of how data science is applied in their field. ”

Details and updates on the minor are available here.

Source: UC Berkley 

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