UC Riverside Adds Data Science Specialization to Online MS in Engineering

Graduates will join growing field of experts who are decoding big data

A graphic representing big data

Graduates of UCR’s Online Master of Science in Engineering who specialize in Data Science will help organizations take advantage of the enormous amounts of data generated today, providing new insights and improving decision-making capabilities. Photo credit: DARPA.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — Knowledge is power, but in the age of ‘big data’ many companies are finding themselves with too much of a good thing. The smart ones hire data scientists—experts with the knowledge to analyze large datasets, visualize them, and find meaningful patterns that help businesses get ahead.

To meet the growing demand for data scientists, the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering has added a new Data Science specialization to its Online Master of Science in Engineering, a fully online degree program that is aimed at professionals in multi-disciplinary data-driven fields (engineers, scientists, medical and social media professionals) looking to enhance their careers.

With topics spanning data mining, machine learning, statistical computing, and data visualization, graduates will be ready to help organizations take advantage of the enormous amounts of data generated today, providing new insights and improving decision-making capabilities. The program is jointly developed by UCR faculty and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) science staff.

“NASA is just one example of an organization that is relying more and more heavily on data scientists who can analyze and draw conclusions from the vast amount of information that can be collected today,” said Kambiz Vafai, a Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Online Master of Science in Engineering. “The specialization is also aimed at people who are working or planning to work in financial sectors, social media, retail and academic research.”

According to the career site Glassdoor.com, data scientists can initially earn annual salaries of $100,000 to $130,000, while data visualization specialists’ base earnings start around $80,000 and can reach $100,000.

“This is a highly coveted skillset that employers are looking for as they imagine the potential for big data to uncover new revenue streams and improve their business processes,” Vafai said.

Development of the Data Science specialization is supported by a NASA Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) ‘Fellowships and Internships in Extremely Large Data Sets (FIELDS)’ grant awarded to UCR in 2015. The MUREP program aims to increase the number of undergraduate and graduate students in NASA-related fields in minority serving institutions.

“The online Master’s program in the Data Science Specialization will equip students with the knowledge needed for a career in data analytics. Students will then be ready to move to various jobs in government labs, industry or academia,” said Bahram Mobasher, Professor of Physics and Observational Astronomy at UCR and Principal Investigator of the FIELDS program.

Launched in 2013, the online master’s now offers six specializations: Data Science, Bioengineering, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Materials at the Nanoscale, and Mechanical Engineering.

The course material for the online master’s program is equivalent to the traditional master’s program, but with a greater emphasis on technical skills rather than research. Recorded courses, which maintain the same University of California standards as traditional courses, are available for students to watch at convenient times. Students are required to take nine courses for a total of 36 units to graduate, which can be completed in as little as 13 months.

Applications are accepted based on work experience, college coursework completed, GPA, professional certifications, reference letters and GRE scores. The cost of the program is $3,333 per course, or $30,000 for the nine-course program.

More information about UCR’s Online Master of Science in Engineering is here: http://www.msol.ucr.edu/

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