(Courtesy: Sharon Florentine, CIO)
The new Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) program is the school's first online-only degree program and is an effort to preemptively address businesses' need for skilled data scientists, says Dean of the School of Information Anna Lee Saxenian.
What's been missing in the market, Saxenian says, is mid-level, master's degree training that can bridge the gap between workers in business who are responsible for collecting the data and the current crop of data scientists, many of whom have Ph.Ds and are working in academia.
"In the future, we'll be dealing with information not just as text and physical artifacts, but [also as] video, data, audio, sensor data collected from computers, Web click stream data and that will all be globally networked. We are going to need a new education paradigm to address that," Saxenian says. "We're not just educating people in programming and data mining, but in law and legal issues, in social science and behavioral studies, user interface design and user interaction, for instance," she adds.
Where the Data Scientist Jobs Are
Businesses in almost every industry are finding ways to use data to improve efficiency, create new revenue streams, better target marketing and advertising to customers, and develop new products and services, says McKinsey Global Institute's Chui.
"We don't see any area of a business that can't benefit from using data to streamline processes, better meet the needs of customers and users to become more effective and more competitive," Chui says.
Currently, demand for data scientists is concentrated in "traditional" like IT and finance sectors, and applicants to the program tend to hold careers in these fields, says Saxenien. But, she says, the application of data science should expand greatly over the next few years, offering graduates opportunities in real estate, government, healthcare, construction, manufacturing and more.
Data in Demand
UC Berkeley iSchool's first MIDS class will start in January 2014, and the first graduates are expected to enter the workforce sometime in 2015, Saxenian says. While the degree program takes a year to complete, most applicants to the program currently hold full-time jobs, and will be taking courses on a part-time basis. Once they graduate, students can command a starting salary of around $100,000 or more, she says.
"These educational programs are ramping up. I think we'll start to see more of them, and it's going to take us as a University a while to produce these graduates. The students we have currently that are working in the data space are getting snatched up by companies, and at a starting salary for our master's program graduates of around $100,000. That's an incredible opportunity," she says.