NYU undergraduate students can now declare a brand-new major in Data Science. The NYU Center for Data Science (CDS), in collaboration with the College of Arts and Science (CAS), designed the interdisciplinary program to prepare students to ethically collect and analyze data and responsibly communicate insights based on that data. “These skills are becoming a necessity in nearly every field,” says professor and CDS director of undergraduate studies Andrea Jones-Rooy. “So the need to develop graduates who know how to analyze, interpret, and communicate data is super high.”
A New Kind of Capable
To become effective and impactful data scientists, students complete 13 major courses across three NYU departments. At CDS, they establish and grow a knowledge base in programming, data manipulation and visualization, big data, and causal inference. They also dive deep into data ethics, learning how to be responsible stewards of data science. Outside CDS, students take computer science and mathematics classes at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Courses include Introduction to Machine Learning, Data Management and Analysis, Linear Algebra, and Probability and Statistics.
Through the curriculum, students learn the hard skills of data science and how to put those skills into practice in ethically, socially, and culturally responsible ways. “Being able to take classes that will push me to consider data science’s bigger picture is extremely important,” says William Humphrey, a junior Science and Technology Studies major at the Tandon School of Engineering who plans to add Data Science as a second major. “I’m excited to explore data in a way that takes it beyond coding, in a way that examines potential negative repercussions and prepares me to prevent them.”
Building Bridges Between Disciplines
In addition to completing major courses, students pursuing data science as a single major are required to complete a minor within CAS. This requirement is an example of the degree’s focus on helping students connect practical data science skills with another area they’re interested in.
Professor Jones-Rooy is excited to see the diversity of subjects students will pursue. Areas may include journalism, public policy, education, and social or natural sciences. “We want to challenge students to put their data science skills into practice in an area they really care about. We want them to not only learn at the intersection of statistics, research, and computer science but also build bridges between other disciplines,” she says.
Welcome to Your Data Science Community
At CDS, students have a tremendous amount of guidance and support in building those bridges. They take classes specifically designed for their major and work alongside faculty and graduate and doctoral students from day one. Access to this type of expertise and community is rare for a major that is often a patchwork of classes within a larger, less specialized department.
Within this established network of like-minded individuals, students have the opportunity to engage with professors who push the boundaries of data science’s interdisciplinary capabilities. “All our faculty have joint appointments with other NYU departments, which shows the application of data science’s true diversity,” says CDS director Julia Kempe. From developing machine learning tools that analyze music and multimedia data to examining the application of texts-as-data methods, CDS faculty give students a firsthand look at the myriad paths data science opens up—in a city that’s quickly becoming a global data science hub.
“New York City isn’t just a tech hub. It has every type of company you could possibly want, and they all need people who know how to work with data,” says William. “I think New York City provides more opportunities than Silicon Valley, where you’re locked into tech. Here, you can get into start-ups, investment banking, health care, media, public policy, so many different things. I love that about this city.”