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New Data Analytics Minor Now Available to Students

With the addition of this interdisciplinary minor—which is a combination of statistics, computer science, data management, and storytelling—Ursinus becomes one of just a few liberal arts colleges to offer a minor in the burgeoning field of data analytics.

The new minor prepares students to organize and assemble large data sets, process them, and use them to describe and answer questions about a world in which exponentially growing amounts of quantitative data are becoming available. In the context of the Ursinus core curriculum, the minor asks students to consider the question, “How can we understand the world?”

“We’ve known for years that data analytics is a rapidly growing field that is and will continue to have a huge impact on many aspects of our lives,” said Associate Professor and Chair of Business and Economics Scott Deacle, who worked with other faculty members to implement the new minor.

“Several years ago, we piloted a data analytics course, created and taught by Professor Emerita of Business and Economics Heather O’Neill and former institutional researcher Whitney Hawkins, that was well received by students. As we’ve added more faculty with expertise in the field, it became apparent that we could create a data analytics program that considers the human impact of the work that data analysts do while also ensuring that students have a rigorous background in how to conduct the technical work of data analytics.”

The motivation for the minor stems from the continuing increase in computing power and the explosion of devices connected to the Internet that collect data. Individuals and organizations of all types are confronting the challenge of processing and interpreting massive amounts of disparate data. As a result, society needs humans who understand how to assemble these data, ask the right questions of it, and draw the best answers.

While data analytics does involve statistics and computer science—two minors also offered as part of the curriculum—data analytics places more emphasis on data management and coding than traditional statistics courses; and involves a great deal more statistical analysis and interpretation than computer science.

The data analytics minor consists of 24 credits, with 16 to 20 credits in required courses that focus on topics such as R and Python programming languages. Sample courses include “Data Care and Cleaning” (DATA-202), “Data-Driven Insights and Society” (DATA-301), “Database Design” (CS-377), “Programming for the World” (CS-170Q), and “Intro to Digital Studies” (DIGS-200). All courses created for the new data analytics curriculum will include a component examining one or more of ethical concerns, social impact, or connections the Four Questions curriculum.

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