Online Bachelor's in Data Science

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What Is a Data Science Major, and What Can You Do With It?

Our modern world contains more data than ever. Per a 2018 Forbes article, humans produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, and this impressive statistic will only rise as we continue to generate more information. Organizations and businesses increasingly rely on data to make decisions, predict trends, market to consumers, and scale their operations. Through the work of data scientists, they’re able to transform raw information into usable reports, graphs, and dashboards.

Data scientist analyzes a KPI dashboard that displays data charts and analytics

Data scientists pull from their expertise in computer science and mathematics to tackle unstructured data, solve multifaceted problems, and make data-driven recommendations. With the rise of big data, these professionals are valued by businesses and organizations across a wide variety of fields. Because there are so many potential applications for data science in such an array of industries, data science majors often have a wealth of exciting career opportunities.

The Skills of a Data Science Major: AI, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning

Within data science degree programs, students generally learn a number of highly useful skills. These include a deep understanding of data analysis, computer programming, predictive modeling, statistics, calculus, and economics. In addition, data science students often discover how to present their findings and data-driven recommendations in easy-to-understand formats for their colleagues to use. A data science curriculum also typically lays the groundwork for a student’s understanding of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and deep learning.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is the high-level process of training machines and computers to act, think, decide, or reason on their own. While the term is often associated with robots, the application is much broader, including the automatic purchase and sale of stocks or the rise of self-driving cars. Due to its growing use in emerging technologies, AI has become a central topic in many courses within a data science major.

Machine Learning

A type of AI in which data scientists equip computers with self-correcting algorithms that enable them to teach themselves, machine learning makes for sophisticated and adaptable systems. When put in place, these systems leverage digital neural networks to correct course, make decisions, and learn. It is through machine learning that computers recommend movies, write music, process visual images, and diagnose illnesses.

A key concept within the study of machine learning is deep learning, which leverages neural networks with multiple feedback levels to make more complex determinations. Deep learning enables machines to discern for themselves, follow nested decision paths, and find nuances in data sets.

To implement any of these advanced techniques, data scientists must provide machines with corrected, complete data whenever possible and apply programming languages to fully understand and utilize this wealth of information.

Applications of Data Science: Predictive Analytics and Metadata Management

Data science majors are often employed in a variety of professional settings for many purposes. One such function is applying predictive analytics to business. By leveraging competency in machine learning, statistics, and algorithms, data scientists make intelligent predictions about the future. Practical uses of predictive analytics include anticipating consumer behaviors and purchasing trends, streamlining operations, maximizing profits, identifying cases of fraud, and mitigating risk. Industries currently leveraging predictive analytics include finance, manufacturing, healthcare, technology, retail, education, government, energy, and insurance.

An important component of data is metadata — which is information about data. This includes who created it, when and where this occurred, who has updated it, its size, storage location, and more. Metadata is important because it provides context to users, helps maintain data quality, and clarifies definitions. Data scientists and their colleagues are critical to maintaining and managing metadata; in their work, they complete tasks such as designing secure repositories, correcting metadata, and ensuring technology can access the metadata as needed.

Job Outlook for Data Science Majors

Data scientists are in high demand due to the proliferation of information and many industry’s increasing reliance on IT and data to make decisions. In a data scientist role, professionals tend to perform activities such as:

 

  • Managing data and leveraging their analytical abilities to turn raw information into understandable, actionable takeaways for lay audiences.
  • Making data-driven recommendations to solve complex problems for businesses and organizations of all types.
  • Following data science trends and remaining up-to-date on best practices and emerging technologies in software, AI, and analytics.
  • Leveraging knowledge in mathematics, statistics, and computer programming to maximize efficiency, identify patterns, increase profits, and draw useful conclusions from data.
  • Communicating with colleagues in the IT and business sectors to ensure findings are clear and actionable.

 

Because they are often equipped with specialized technical knowledge, data science majors can graduate from bachelor’s degree programs with a wealth of exciting career opportunities available to them. In 2017, a report published by IBM found that the five-year growth rate in positions for data scientists is 39%. In addition, the average salary for a data scientist was over $105,000, with fewer than half of job listings requiring a master’s degree or higher.

Consider a Major in Data Science

Data scientists play an invaluable role in their organizations, and they enjoy work that keeps their minds engaged and requires them to use problem-solving skills. Their services are also in high demand due to a national shortage of data scientists. A strong employment outlook, coupled with a versatile skill set, could lead to a number of excellent opportunities for those who major in data science. Enroll in Maryville University’s online bachelor’s in data science program and take the first step toward a fulfilling, rewarding career with a number of opportunities

Sources:

Data Science Central, “Artificial Intelligence vs. Machine Learning vs. Deep Learning”

Forbes, “Bridging The Data Scientist Talent Gap Starts With Defining The Current Role”

Forbes, “How Much Data Do We Create Every Day? The Mind-Blowing Stats Everyone Should Read”

Forbes, “What Is The Difference Between Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning?”

IBM, “The Quant Report: How the Demand for Data Science Skills Is Disrupting the Job Market”

PWC, “What’s next for the data science and analytics job market?”

SAS, “Predictive Analytics: What it is and why it matters”

SAS, “What is a Data Scientist?”

TechTarget, “The benefits of metadata and implementing a metadata management strategy”