This article was written by Angela Sumang

President Henry J. Eyring announced a newly added major called data science to Brigham Young University Idaho’s curriculum, during his speech at his inauguration.

President Eyring spoke of the development in bachelor’s degrees and the increase in wide-ranging degrees including interdisciplinary degrees during his speech, mentioning data science as one of them.

He commented “a wonderful example is a new bachelor’s degree in data science, designed by faculty members of three departments with help from colleagues across the university as well as outside advisers,” President Eyring said, according to the BYU-I Newsroom. “This degree includes courses in statistics, computer science, in information technology, design, communication, and business.”

What is data science? Data science is the study and practice of using automated methods to analyze huge amounts of data and to extract knowledge from them, according to New York University. Data science helps create new possibilities in the area of science and influences other areas such as social science and humanities.

“This hot new field promises to revolutionize industries from business to government, health care to academia,” according to New York Times.

John Hathaway, one of the department chairs for data science, said he would describe the new major as a “blend of programmer, statistician, and communicator that burns with curiosity.”

“What makes the data science major so different is that its design allows freshman students to sample curiosity stimulating introductory courses from multiple majors before making a long-term commitment,” President Eyring said.

BYU-I has proposed a BS, AAS, Minor, Certificate, and Cluster in data science to address the different levels of data science needs and help prepare students for the growing industry.

Students in BYU-Idaho will be able to benefit as they are entering the industry with the degree and skills that make them become strong candidates as there is an expected 300,000 shortage in data scientists.

There is a large and still growing demand for data-savvy professionals in businesses, nonprofits, and public agencies, according to a study conducted at Berkley University. However, there is a global talent shortage for individuals who are analytical and managerial.

BYU-I is now giving the students the opportunity to be a part of this new in-demand industry.

A McKinsey&Company study predicts that in 2018 there will be an estimation of more than 490,000 data science jobs available in the U.S. alone, but will have fewer than 200,000 individuals qualified to fill these positions as data scientists. Fewer than one-third of U.S. universities offer degrees in data science, and of the 29 universities that do offer the degree, only six are available to undergraduates.

Due to the high demand in this industry, salaries are very high. A report by recruitment firm Burtch Works states that the median salary for data scientists was at $80,000 for individuals with less than three years of experience.