Graduate Certificate in Data Sciences

General

Program Description

The Graduate Certificate in Data Sciences certificate program is intended primarily for individuals with B.S. degrees in Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, and business or technical areas who are interested in learning state of the art technologies in Data Sciences. This rapidly growing area of technology that will have far-reaching impacts on society.

Students should apply as a non-candidate for a degree in the Graduate Programs Office. Students in this certificate program are not eligible for federal financial aid.

Executive Summary

The CSC/CIS programs are developing a set of post-baccalaureate certificates to address critical technologies that have emerged in the past few years in the industry. These three are:

  1. Data Sciences,
  2. Intelligent Systems,
  3. Security.

These areas of technology are rapidly changing and are having far-reaching impacts on society. This is the proposal for the Data Sciences certificate. When originally researching the possibility of an MS in Data Sciences with Mathematics and SOM, the department contacted a number of employers to discuss interest in the program. These included GM, Ford, Auto-Owners, Pioneer Insurance, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. All of the employers mentioned that they prefer to pay only for specific courses and not entire degrees. The idea of a smaller credential that is focused only on the key courses for that area and would be reimbursable by industry emerged. The program decided these certificates would dovetail nicely with the existing BS CSC/CIS and the MS-CSIS programs and serve a possible bridge between the two as students begin graduate studies in a focused area and then branch out to obtain a full MS degree. As these certificates are based on existing MS-CSIS courses they require no additional resources and can be quickly offered. The program would be taught in the CSEP Cyber-classrooms so it can be completed in-class or fully online, or any mix of the two based on the students’ interests and time availabilities.

Introduction

This is one of a set of graduate certificates that the CSEP department is proposing to supplement its MS-CSIS program. This has been a very successful program, but there has been interest in providing some credential that does not entail the coursework of a complete MS degree. When researching the possibility of an MS in Data Sciences with Mathematics and SOM, the department contacted a number of employers to discuss interest in the program. These included GM, Ford, Auto-Owners, Pioneer Insurance, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. All of the employers mentioned that they prefer to pay only for specific courses and not entire degrees. The idea of a smaller credential focused only on the key courses for that area and would be reimbursable by industry emerged. The idea is that students may then be interested in staying on for the full MS-CSIS degree since they would be out-of-pocket only the remaining six (6) courses. Thus, the program provides key knowledge the students want and provides a marketing opportunity to increase the MS-CSIS program enrollments as well.

The overall goal of the certificate is to provide students with a highly concentrated set of classes focusing on Data Sciences. The program can be completed full-time in a year or part-time in fifteen months if the program offers one of the courses in the spring or summer semester. This is very attractive to students.

The program would be taught in the CSEP Cyber-classrooms so it can be completed in-class or fully online, or any mix of the two based on the students’ interests and time availabilities.

The target population is working Computer Science and Computer Information Systems professionals that are in a Data Science support role and want to improve their skills. A subset of the MS-CSIS Fast Track courses will also be available to serve as prerequisites for students that come from other backgrounds.

The department in cooperation with Mathematics and SOM initiated an Education Advisory Board (EAB) study into the feasibility of an MS in Data Sciences and they found that there were many MS programs related to Data Sciences in the state but only a couple of schools offered certificates. This coupled with employer interest in a more focused program leads the department to believe the certificates have strong enrollment opportunities.

Needs Assessment

As mentioned earlier, two years ago the department in cooperation with Mathematics and SOM initiated an EAB study. The results of this study showed there were roughly 600 jobs per year for people holding MS degrees in the quad-state area. This coupled with the communications with employers led the team to not pursue the MS in Data Sciences. The EAB, however, noted very few Certificate programs in Data Sciences. The need for MS is probably lower due to the employers not being willing to pay for the degrees. Every employer we interviewed mentioned they are definitely interested in specific sets of focused courses that their people can take to improve their Data Sciences knowledge.

Some feedback on the feasibility of a Data Analytics program (closely related to Data Sciences) included the following highlights (1):

  • Data analytics capabilities evolve continuously and are entering the Analytics 3.0 era wherein data-driven decision making will be embedded in all organizations and business processes.
  • Analytics is moving from a competitive advantage to a competitive necessity for all organizations and industries. Yet many industries and small and medium-sized businesses have been slow to adopt analytics. Catching up will further boost the demand for analytics talent.
  • As analytics becomes ubiquitous and the tools become easier to use, most white-collar professionals will need some proficiency in analytics to advance their careers.

The EAB also recommended the following approaches to supplement enrollment that we have been doing for years with our Fast Track courses as part of our MS-CSIS program (1):

  • Accommodate applications from liberal arts graduates through alternative admissions and onboarding processes.
  • Attract current or aspiring citizen data scientists via short-form credentials and analytics tracks embedded in existing masters’ programs.

The Data Sciences field is part of a growing field of Artificial Intelligence in areas such as:

Cognitive Computing Machine Learning
Predictive Analytics Behavioral Analytics
Cloud Computing Facial Recognition
Natural Language Processing Internet of Things
Deep Learning Sentiment Analysis
Neural Networks Pattern Recognition

In the following figure from EAB, they show the pathways for Data Science and Data Analytics personnel. Our certificate can handle all the pathways that lead to Senior Data Scientist. Our traditional CS students will start as either Data Analysts or Data Scientists. Note the prevalence in the EAB diagram of certificate programs to help move students up through the credentialing. Our additional Fast Track courses allow either Data Scientists with more business background or the ‘citizen’ data scientist to gather the needed background expertise. Note in particular the entry-level on the ladder is BS or certificate for which our certificate program will help students not in the discipline get onto the career ladder as well.

Pathways for Data Science

130320_PathwaysforDataScience.png

Data Analytics – Capitalizing on Distruption, EAB 2017.

Relevance to Mission and Planning Efforts

The program is clearly aligned with the missions of the University, school, and department. The mission of the University finishes with the sentence: “Through personal attention and dedicated faculty and staff, our students become leaders and best in their fields, professions, and communities.” Clearly, our program helps people move up the career ladders and even cross ladders to achieve their career goals. The CAS mission has a sentence: “transforms lives through the power of a comprehensive education rooted in theory and practice.” Likewise, our program is taught by faculty that are actively performing research in the disciplines related to Data Science and the courses are often taught with hands-on projects to allow the students to understand not only the theory but also the practice of the field they are studying. At the department level, the mission of the graduate program states its mission is to: “provide a solid understanding of the principles of computers and computing, not only in the context of problem-solving, but also in technical support, education and training, and software/hardware management.” The certificate program highlighted clearly meets these mission objectives.

Student characteristics

As mentioned in the needs assessment section, our certificate can handle all the pathways that the EAB identified that lead to Senior Data Scientist. Traditional CS students will start as either Data Analysts or Data Scientists. Non-CS trained students can take additional Fast Track courses that allow either Data Scientists with more of business background or the ‘citizen’ data scientist to gather the needed background expertise. Note in particular the entry-level on the EAB-defined ladder is BS or certificate for which our certificate program will help students not in the discipline get onto the career ladder as well.

Admissions policy

Students pursuing the certificates in Computer Science are admitted to the program using the same criteria as those currently existing for the MS in Computer Science and Information Systems (MS-CSIS) program. Admission to these Post-Bachelor’s Certificate requires a B.S. or equivalent degree. Applicants should have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better in their bachelor’s degree. The applicants must also have completed college-level mathematics, statistics, or quantitative course and be familiar with at least one programming language to be eligible for the program. Students who lack these can take one of the pre-requisite courses defined in the program description. Applications for admission are available from the Office of Graduate Programs. Admission to the program is not granted until the application materials are submitted and reviewed.

Priority application deadlines are:

  • August 1 for fall entry
  • November 15 for winter entry
  • March 15 for spring entry
  • May 15 for summer entry

International applications are due:

  • May 1 for fall entry
  • September 1 for winter entry
Last updated Mar 2020

About the School

Founded in 1956 on a commitment to bring a quality Michigan education to Flint and the surrounding area, UM-Flint has done exactly what we set out to do. In the process, we’ve welcomed a record number ... Read More

Founded in 1956 on a commitment to bring a quality Michigan education to Flint and the surrounding area, UM-Flint has done exactly what we set out to do. In the process, we’ve welcomed a record number of students into our classrooms, equipping them with the knowledge, experiences, and skills to make lasting contributions to the businesses, organizations, and communities they help shape. We invite you to see how our students, faculty, staff, and campus are making a real difference. Read less