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Interdisciplinary Education in Data Science

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected a 27.9% growth in Data Science occupations during the period from 2016 to 2026, driven by the demand for workers who can handle big data. BLS projects that occupations in Data Science and Mathematical Science will far outpace the average growth rate for all occupations.

At Illinois, we have taken notice and have a broad offering in data science education, including innovative family of new degrees combining data science with other disciplines.

What is Data Science?

At Illinois, we have launched a new series of undergraduate degrees that combine Data Science with other disciplines. The X + Data Science (X + DS) family of degrees will prepare Illinois students to lead society's digital transformation.Society is being rapidly transformed by the rise of digital technology and the emergence of massive data sets. Data Science is the art of extracting new knowledge and finding meaningful information in a huge sea of data.  

An important new field, Data Science  includes principles for data collection, storage, integration, analysis, inference, communication, and ethics.

X + DS at Illinois

The X + Data Science degree programs at Illinois are being designed from the ground up to be interdisciplinary and inclusive.

  • Interdisciplinary: Digital transformation is impacting all fields, so collaborative work in an application domain is important part of a Data Science education. X + DS majors take core coursework in an application domain of their choosing.
  • Inclusive: Our core Data Science coursework has fewer technical prerequisites and requirements than most programs in computer science, mathematics, or statistics. This makes X + DS more accessible to people from all backgrounds.   

Four X + DS degree programs have been approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education: Accountancy + Data Science, Astronomy + Data Science, Finance + Data Science, and Information Sciences + Data Science.

Data Science Discovery for a Broad Audience

Our goal is to provide an inclusive data science education enabling engagement at multiple levels and with both formal and informal opportunities.

Data Science Discovery is an open-source data science resource created by The University of Illinois with support from The Discovery Partners Institute, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and The Grainger College of Engineering. The aim is to support basic data science literacy to all through clear, understandable lessons, real-world examples, and support.

At the University of Illinois, the Data Science Discovery material is used as the basis for the first data science course, STAT 107: Data Science Discovery, which is also the first course in in the data science core for our new X+DS degree programs.  It is offered to undergraduate students who do not have any prior experience. As a project-driven course, students perform hands-on-analysis of real-world datasets to analyze and discover the impact of the data.  Throughout each experience, students reflect on the social issues surrounding data analysis such as privacy and design.

New Data Science Center Planned Near Main Quad

Plans for a new statewide innovation network to accelerate job creation and economic growth include building a world-class center devoted to the fast-growing field of data science.

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Interdisciplinary Illinois

A leader in interdisciplinary education and research, the University of Illinois seeks to give all Illinois students the opportunity to have a meaningful exposure to Data Science. X + DS will provide a new pathway to foster education across disciplines, supporting the University's Strategic Plan.