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State Board Approves New Program in Data Science and Data Analytics


JONESBORO – The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board (AHECB) today approved Arkansas State University’s proposal to offer a new Bachelor of Science degree program in data science and data analytics.

The need for data scientists and data analysts within the state and nation is growing extremely fast, as recognized in 2017 by Gov. Asa Hutchinson when he constituted the Blue Ribbon Commission to report on “the economic competitiveness of Arkansas in data analytics and computing.”

The outcomes of the commission’s work recognized universities’ potential to contribute significantly to developing a data science and data analytics (DSDA [JLC1] ) workforce in the state. A‑State has responded by creating the new program.

“We are excited to offer this new BS degree program to our students,” noted Dr. Alan Utter, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.  “The data science and data analytics major will allow our students to compete for employment opportunities and graduate education in a wide variety of disciplines.”

Some of the special features of the DSDA degree are a capstone design experience, a credit-bearing internship experience, a 120-credit hour program where 85% of the courses already exist, and a program core that will cover content in statistics, computer science and coding, visualization, data governance and ethics.

Students will be able to choose a domain from a wide range of disciplines. Some of the domain studies in development are in the areas of  health care, social sciences, engineering, computer science and geospatial technologies.

“I consider it a privilege to have facilitated an effort to develop the BS in data science and data analytics. It was an intense, collaborative effort executed over almost a year to develop a program with mostly existing courses,” explained Dr. Abhijit Bhattacharyya, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. 

“This is a testament to the finest traditions in the university on collaborative endeavors and the recognition that data science/data analytics (DSDA) is a fast-evolving new discipline in the state and the nation. The convergence in priorities for DSDA within the state among government, industry and academia to develop the DSDA workforce also acted as a powerful motivation to develop the program.”

Dr. Jason Causey of the Department of Computer Science will serve as the program’s interim director.

Bhattacharyya also expressed appreciation to the DSDA planning committee for its work on the degree program.  Committee members are:

  • Dr. John Nowlin, College of Agriculture (CoA)
  • Dr. David Saarnio, College of Education and Behavioral Science
  • Dr. Jason Causey, College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Dr. Hung-chi Su, College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Dr. Cameron Wimpy, College of Liberal Arts and Communication
  • Kapil Bajaj, New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)
  • Dr. Amanda Carpenter, College of Nursing and Health Professions
  • Dr. Sudeepa Bhattacharyya, College of Science and Mathematics and
    Arkansas Biosciences Institute
  • Dr. Amanda Lambertus, College of Sciences and Mathematics
  • Dr. Hong Zhou, College of Sciences and Mathematics
  • Dr. Karen Wheeler, Office of the Provost

“Also, this effort would not have been possible without the support of my colleagues, Dean Lynn Boyd (Sciences and Mathematics), Dean Mary Jane Bradley (Education and Behavioral Science), Dean Carl Cates (Liberal Arts and Communication), Dean Susan Hanrahan (Nursing and Health Professions) and Dean Mickey LaTour (Agriculture),” Bhattacharyya added.

Bill Yoder, executive director of the Arkansas Center for Data Science, was among those congratulating the A-State team for securing approval from the state board.  "The advanced utilization of data analytics and data science across all industry sectors in the State of Arkansas creates excellent career opportunities for the A-State students who will pursue these new educational opportunities."

A 25-credit hour undergraduate certificate in data analytics will also be available to all majors other than those in DSDA.

For more details about the data science and data analytics program, one may contact Causey, jcausey@AState.edu or 870-972-3978, ext. 8182.

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