YSU to offer master’s in data science

By Tala Alsharif

Youngstown State University will begin offering a Master of Science in data and statistics in fall 2024.

The program involves collaborative efforts between the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the College of Graduate Studies.

Thomas Wakefield, chair and professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, said the program aims to attract students from a variety of disciplines since different student perspectives can be valuable.

“We like to think of the program as data science for all,” Wakefield said. “Data science at its heart is interdisciplinary.”

Wakefield said growing student interest and a demand for data analytics is what led the faculty in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics to work on a proposal to add this program.

“[There is a] demand from employers, both in the region and in the state and nationally for students who are trained in data science and the analysis of data,” Wakefield said. “Our faculty who have really interacted with the students … see the positive impact that … this training would have on their own employment outcomes.” 

The program will train students in data management, and teach students how to manage and manipulate large databases, predictive modeling, data ethics and data visualization that provides tools to effectively tell stories from data. 

“We think [the data ethics course] is really important, maybe the most critical,” Wakefield said. “[It’s] how to use mathematical algorithm techniques that are used in the industry to extract information from data.”

In the program, students can participate in the YSU Data Mine or engage with projects in data science or analytics. Internships can also be completed as part of the program. 

“[The YSU Data Mine] is a really great opportunity for students to work collaboratively in a team on an actual data analytics project from a corporate partner,” Wakefield said. “We’ve been running that for the past two years, and it’s been a really great experience for students.”

Students can also take courses in computer science, statistics, biology, industrial engineering, economics and more.

Wakefield said students in the program will also gain the experience they need to make business decisions.

“I hope [the program] provides students the opportunity to … get the experience they need to … feel confident in using these data science and data analytics tools to make business decisions, … to apply those decisions in a context for a company or to the YSU Data Mine or in their individual disciplines of interest,” Wakefield said. 

To enroll in the program, interested students are required to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and a 2.5 or higher GPA.