Cornell University: Students can choose new minor in data science


Students from throughout the university can now minor in data science, a field that faculty say has become increasingly important for students in nearly any major, from humanities and social sciences to sciences, engineering and math.

“This is a minor created with students from across the liberal arts and sciences in mind, to help them build quantitative and computational skills and, most importantly, apply them, and understand their implications, in their areas of study,” said Rachel Bean, Senior Associate Dean for Sciences and Math and Professor of Astronomy in the College of Arts & Sciences and a member of the multi-college committee that designed the new minor. “You may be a history major or an econ major, but you are interested in using data science tools to determine solutions to the problems you see.”

The minor is distinctive in including courses from many disciplines, from across Cornell’s schools and colleges, Bean said, so the process of designing the minor involved cooperation among many college leaders.

Students taking the minor will be required to take six courses, including one each from core statistics and computer programming categories. Other course categories include data analysis; domain expertise; big data ethics, policy and society; and data communication.

“Faculty have been giving a lot of homegrown knowledge about data science to students for many years,” said Martin Wells, the Charles A. Alexander Professor of Statistical Sciences in the Cornell Ann. S Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, and another member of the organizing committee. “We think it serves students much better to centralize this information and organize courses so that students can take core courses in data science and then pursue substantive applications in their other courses.”