Fortune Education has ranked Clemson University’s online Master of Science in data science and analytics (DSA) program as one of the best in the country.
Clemson’s program, a collaboration between the College of Science and the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business, ranks 14th in Fortune Education’s first-ever online ranking of data science graduate programs.
“There are few programs in the world that two departments develop,” said Ellen Breazel, a senior lecturer in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences and the co-coordinator of the program. “There are degrees that have both business and statistics, but the management department or the statistics/math department typically teaches them. Clemson’s willingness to form a degree program that has equal shares in two departments means our students are getting the experts in both fields.”
The demand for data scientists has grown exponentially and there’s no sign of it slowing down. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects data science-related jobs will grow by 28 percent per year through 2026.
Fortune Education ranking considered selectivity and demand. A program’s selectivity score considered the average undergraduate GPA of incoming students, the average number of years of work experience of those students and the program’s acceptance rate. The demand score measured the total enrollment size of the program and the number of applicants for the most recent year.
Clemson’s first DSA cohort started coursework in 2020.
“Many programs speak of cohorts, but the reality is there’s a limited difference,” said Russ Purvis, professor of management and the DSA program co-director. “Our participants are very keen on the importance of such an approach. Some people may think this would not be important for an online program. However, it is quite the contrary. The technical stretches of the program demand students to lean on each other. This and other emotional intelligence skill sets are essential for the workplace and designed to be needed within the program to succeed.”
There are currently 51 students in the program.
Seven students graduated last December. An additional 28 students are on track to graduate in 2022.
Craig Fick is one of the program’s first graduates. The New Smyrna Beach, Florida, resident worked as a departmental director at a hospital in South Carolina. Some of his job responsibilities aligned with those of a data analyst, such as creating weekly reports and tracking and improving key performance indicators.
“I liked doing those tasks, and I knew there had to be easier ways of doing them. Ultimately, this led me to the data science program at Clemson,” he said. “The program gave me a well-rounded understanding of the data science and analytics world. Coming from a nearly non-technical background, this was very important. The advanced coursework concepts that are covered, I would have had a rather hard time comprehending outside of the program.”
The degree comprises 10 courses, five in mathematical and statistical sciences and five in management. There are no required prerequisites, but some background in quantitative reasoning through coursework or work experience is recommended.
Breazel and Purvis said more and more businesses realize the value of big data.
“Data-driven decision-making is powerful. Research shows that organizations using business analytics provide strategic planning with information useful in dealing with dynamic environments,” Purvis said. “Business analytics is also useful when integrated into performance management systems.”
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