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University of Wisconsin Board of Regents Approves New 36-Credit, Online Master of Science in Data Science Program

UW Extended Campus May 22, 2015
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New Graduate Program Aims to Address the Growing Need for Data Analytics Talent in Wisconsin and Across the Nation

MADISON, Wis.—May 22, 2015—The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has granted its approval to offer a 12-course, 36-credit online master’s degree in the fast-growing field of data science. A collaborative partnership of the University of Wisconsin-Extension and six University of Wisconsin campuses—UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Superior—the program will be the first online master’s degree in data science ever offered in the UW System.

Courses are planned to start in September pending approval from the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States.

“Today’s world is generating data at an explosive and accelerating rate,” said David Schejbal, dean of UW-Extension’s Division of Continuing Education, Outreach and E-Learning (CEOEL). “In Wisconsin and across the country, employers in most industries are in great need of skilled professionals with the ability to transform big data into actionable insights. We are excited to offer an online professional degree program aimed at creating tomorrow’s data science leaders today.”

Designed with input from industry leaders, the UW Master of Science in Data Science will offer a rigorous, multidisciplinary curriculum grounded in computer science, math and statistics, management, and communication. Students will learn how to clean, organize, analyze, and interpret large and complex data sets using the latest tools and analytical methods. Admission to the program will require a bachelor’s degree and a 3.0 GPA. Aptitude tests such as the GMAT and GRE will not be required.

“The online format is a great choice for busy adults,” said Schejbal. “All course content will be provided by distinguished University of Wisconsin faculty. Their expertise, combined with UW-Extension CEOEL’s award-winning instructional and media design, will ensure a rich, flexible, and engaging educational experience that prepares students for success in data science and analytics careers.”

Students in the program will enjoy affordable tuition that compares favorably to competing graduate programs from other institutions. Like other collaborative online University of Wisconsin programs, students will pay the same tuition whether they live in Wisconsin or out of state.

“Data science is a transformative field that allows organizations to turn disorganized data into useful information and intelligence,” said Missy Wittmann, enterprise data strategist at American Family Insurance and president of the Wisconsin Data Management Association (DAMA) Chapter. Wittmann consulted with CEOEL and program faculty during development of the program. “Data scientists combine technical expertise with business savvy to help organizations solve problems, streamline processes, save money, and do what they do better than they ever imagined before.”

The Master of Science in Data Science program is intended for students with a bachelor’s degree in math, statistics, analytics, computer science, or marketing; or three to five years of professional experience as a business intelligence analyst, data analyst, financial analyst, information technology analyst, database administrator, computer programmer, statistician, or other related position.


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Answering “a dire need” in business

A December 2014 story from reported, “The world is in dire need of data science professionals as experts ring alarm bells over the shortage of talent in a field that has become crucial to global business.”

This deepening shortage of data scientists means the employment outlook for professionals with the required knowledge and technical skills is extremely positive. A report from McKinsey Global Institute predicts that “Demand for deep analytical talent in the United States could be 50 to 60 percent greater than its projected supply by 2018.” The result may be a shortfall of “140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts to analyze big data and make decisions based on their findings.”

Opportunities abound for data-science professionals in virtually every sector: manufacturing, construction, transportation, warehousing, communication, science, health care, computer science, information technology, retail, sales, marketing, finance, insurance, education, government, law enforcement, security, and more.

For more information about the planned UW Master of Science in Data Science

The UW Master of Science in Data Science joins a growing list of degree and certificate programs offered in collaboration with UW-Extension and UW System campus partners, including bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs in Sustainable Management; a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management and Technology; a master’s degree in Health and Wellness Management; a bachelor of science in Nursing (RN to BSN); and ten additional degree and certificate programs offered in the self-paced, competency-based UW Flexible Option format.

Prospective students seeking more information about the University of Wisconsin Master of Science in Data Science program can speak with an enrollment adviser at 608-800-6762 or

Programs: Data Science