Data Science

What is Data Science?

Data science is the practice of using computer science and other disciplines to glean meaningful insights from vast amounts of data to solve problems, create more efficient systems and predict future trends. In a world where big data touches every part of our lives, there is a growing need for data scientists who can find innovative ways to collect, analyze and visualize data and effectively present their findings.

Many associate data science with how it’s used to target online advertising for Google or Facebook, handle logistical networks for Amazon, or manage the complexities of gig-economy businesses like Uber. But data science is being used in more ways than you might expect. Today, data science is used to:

  • Manage and improve transportation routes to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Find future sports stars and assemble winning teams.
  • Create personal healthcare recommendations.
  • Identify and predict disease trends.
  • Reduce tax fraud.
  • Predict and prevent crimes before they occur.

To navigate the complexities of how data science is used in different fields, successful data scientists must understand these four key components:

  • Data Component – Using the correct methodologies to collect, manage and encode data to make it ready for analysis and visualization.
  • Algorithm Component – Creating descriptive, predictive or prescriptive algorithms to analyze and visualize the collected data.
  • Real World Component – Understanding how the data visualization and analysis can be combined with real-world expertise to achieve the desired results.
  • Ethical Component – Maintaining the standards required to avoid bias and ensure that results are reported and presented honestly to stakeholders.

Combining these components allows data scientists to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world.

Data Science Fields

Data science is an interdisciplinary study that combines computer science with elements from the fields of mathematics, statistics, psychology, social science and expertise in a wide range of industries. For those interested, there are several areas covered through the Master’s in Data Science offered through Drexel’s College of Computing & Informatics.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are also playing a growing role in data science, which is why we’re offering a Graduate Certificate in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Data Science.

Interested in other ways to apply data science to your industry of choice? Visit our Data Science Careers page for more information.

Data Science Industry Trends

In 2015, award-winning economist and Freakonomics author Steven Levitt gave a speech about the importance of data science where he said, “I really do believe that the combination of collaborations with firms’ big data […] is absolutely going to be at the center of what economics is and what other social sciences are going forward.”

In the years since he gave that speech, his prediction has turned out to be increasingly accurate.

  • As global competition increases, businesses need to find new ways to drive efficiency, improve profit-margins and target customers with greater precision. Data science is a growing part of the decision-making process for businesses of every size.
  • As self-driving vehicles and other automation-based technologies develop, data science will be at the heart of the technologies that make it possible.
  • As the challenges at the heart of medical and scientific research become increasingly complex, data science will be needed to spur new innovations and produce life-saving medical treatments with greater speed and safety.
  • As environmental issues affect our world, data science will play a critical role in preventing the spread of new pandemics, protecting people from the adverse effects of climate change and finding better ways to manage and preserve our natural resources.

For these reasons and more, a growing number of industries and fields of study will need data scientists. Perhaps that’s why Glassdoor’s “50 Best Jobs in America” has listed Data Scientist as one of the top three jobs every year since 2016 and why the median base salary has averaged around $110,000 annually for all those years.

What Do You Learn in Data Science?

Students of data science learn how to use data mining, visual analytics, artificial intelligence and other innovative technologies to collect, organize and visualize enormous amounts of data from a wide range of sources. Students then learn to find hidden trends and insights and use them to recommend and implement a course of action. Students also learn how to ethically manage and present information to avoid biases that can skew their results, and how to effectively present results to key stakeholders.

Because data science is interdisciplinary, it provides opportunities for students and professionals with training in statistics, mathematics and social science as well as computer science. If you’re an undergraduate student or adult learner, we encourage you to learn more about the Bachelor’s in Data Science available through the College of Computing & Informatics. If you have training and a professional background in these disciplines, you may want to consider a Master’s in Data Science.

Data Science Graduate Programs at Drexel’s College of Computing & Informatics

Data science is a growing career field with application in many industries. Earning a master’s degree can be the best first step in a rewarding life-long career path. 

Ranked among the best graduate programs in data science in Pennsylvania by CollegeHippo, Drexel’s College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) offers stackable Data Science certifications in introduction to data science, big data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning for data scienceapplied data science or computational data science. Whether your interest is in application of data science methods, development of computational tools and algorithms, or management of data and information to solve data-centric problems, we offer a master’s degree program and graduate minors that can be studied in person, online or through a hybrid program. This flexibility lets you customize your degree program so you can focus on the areas of study that have the most bearing on your career path and industry.   

Drexel’s data science faculty include world-class researchers working across all major areas of data science, and our program focuses on integrating foundational data science theory with practical applications. Drexel CCI is home to the Metadata Research Center, which leads and innovates metadata solutions for pressing information/data-oriented challenges and is active in the Research Data Alliance global network and the Northeast Big Data Hub. In addition, Drexel CCI is a co-founder and leading institution in the National Science Foundation’s primary big data Industry University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC), the Center for Visualization and Decision Informatics.

Ready to take your career to the next level? Learn more about the data science master’s degree program offered at Drexel University.

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