UW News

December 14, 2015

UW Board of Regents approves new Master of Science in Data Science for professionals

The University of Washington Board of Regents has granted its approval to offer a new Master of Science in Data Science program, designed by leading faculty from six UW departments and schools. The comprehensive, interdisciplinary curriculum will provide students with advanced technical expertise in managing, modeling and visualizing big data to meet the growing needs of industry, government, nonprofits and research institutions.

The 45-credit program, launching in fall 2016, will be offered at the UW Seattle campus, with full- and part-time options available in the evening to suit the schedules of working professionals.

Students take advantage of resources at the Washington Research Foundation Data Science Studio at the University of Washington.

The Washington Research Foundation Data Science Studio at the University of Washington.Anissa Tanweer/ University of Washington

Top faculty from the UW Departments of Applied Mathematics, Biostatistics, Computer Science & Engineering, Human Centered Design & Engineering, Statistics and the Information School have joined forces with the UW eScience Institute to develop this professional master’s program to address the pressing demand for skilled data scientists.

“This new master’s program was designed not only by six leading UW departments, but also with direct input from top data science hiring managers in Seattle and nationwide,” said Bill Howe, associate director and senior data science fellow at the UW eScience Institute and chair of the UW Data Science Master’s Development Committee. “The level of technical expertise from both industry and academia that went into designing this program makes it unique in the country.”

The new program combines practically focused and technically rigorous training in statistical modeling, machine learning, software engineering, data management, data visualization and user interface design. “The University of Washington’s new master’s program provides the breadth and depth in data science that today’s employers demand,” said Carlos Guestrin, Amazon Professor of Machine Learning in Computer Science & Engineering at the UW and CEO of Dato, Inc.

“At Amazon Web Services, the exploding scale and complexity of data has meant that a new set of specialists is suddenly in great demand,” said Roger Barga, general manager of Amazon Web Services Kinesis service. “Teams at both AWS and at the companies that rely on AWS are aggressively hiring analysts and engineers with graduate training in data science methods, systems and algorithms.”

These are high-resolution maps of wealth distribution in Rwanda based on metadata from mobile phone call records. Darker shades indicate relative wealth. A. The location of Rwanda in Africa; B. Map of "cells" in Rwanda, the smallest administrative unit. These could be households or microvillages. C. Enlargement of a 10K x 10 K region. D. Enlargement of a 2k x 2k region.

A recent UW data science study shows how mobile phone data can offer a viable means to measure wealth and poverty in developing countries.University of Washington

A similar perspective is shared by Kristin Tolle, director of the Data Science Initiative at Microsoft Research: “At Microsoft Research, we are committed to advancing research, services, and technology for data science at all levels. The University of Washington’s new Master of Science in Data Science program helps address a critical educational need which in turn helps Microsoft and our customers find well-rounded data science talent.”

The acute need for multifaceted data scientists was also cited in a report by McKinsey Global Institute: “By 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.”

Pushing forward in the field of big data, the UW was recently selected by the National Science Foundation, along with the University of California, San Diego, and the University of California, Berkeley, to co-lead one of four Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs in the U.S. to catalyze collaborations that drive innovative application of data science.

“UW has elite programs — among the best in the nation — in the core fields on which data science relies,” said Ed Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates chair for the UW Department of Computer Science & Engineering and founding director and senior data science fellow at the UW eScience Institute. “This new professional master’s program builds on the UW’s leadership in data science research and education and solidifies the position of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest as a national hub for professional data scientists.”

Admissions communications for the new Master of Science in Data Science program will be managed by UW Professional and Continuing Education, which also runs the popular UW Certificate in Data Science, a 9-month professional program offered year-round in Seattle, Bellevue and online.

For program inquiries, visit datasciencemasters.uw.edu or email info@pce.uw.edu.

For press inquiries, contact Jo Gubas at jgubas@pce.uw.edu.