College of DuPage Offers New Foundations of Data Science Certificate
By Brian Kleemann
The new Foundations of Data Science certificate program at College of DuPage prepares students for careers in data analysis fields while providing cross-training for employees who want a sought-after skills set.
Recently approved by the Illinois Community College Board, the certificate provides a point of entry into a relatively new field while helping existing employees sharpen skills in data collection, research methods, basic statistics, exploratory data analysis, data visualization and data mining.
“The data scientist has been described as the sexiest job of the 21st century,” said Christine Monnier, Professor of Sociology at College of DuPage. “We are awash in a world of data. We now have the power to run massive computations on computers, resulting in more information than ever before. We live in a brand new world with facts at our fingertips, and anything we do now generates data. But do we know what to do with it?”
Monnier said much of data science relates to human behavior, which is why three of the required courses for the 13-credit hour certificate are in sociology. A new course, “Introduction to Data Sciences,” covers the breadth of the field, while the rest of the curriculum addresses research.
“In ‘Introduction to Research Methods,’ students learn that while data can be found anywhere, you must learn how to collect good data,” she said. “Students learn statistics in ‘Statistics for the Social and Behavioral Sciences,’ and then they either take ‘Introduction to Anthropological Methods,’ an anthropology course that focuses on fieldwork, or ‘Introduction to Behavioral Research,’ a psychology course that focuses on experimental practices.”
Monnier said that most existing certificates in this field are very specialized or require prerequisites, while the few general certificate programs focus on the technical aspects of data processing.
“We wanted our certificate to be accessible to a broader population,” she said. “People who are interested but new to the field can pursue the Foundations of Data Science certificate, and you don’t need a background in computer science. You can even take several of the courses to fulfill general education requirements.
“Data analysis skills and research are the ultimate portable skills that have a wide range of applications and are sought after in multiple fields, such as marketing, public health, criminal justice and public policy. President Barack Obama is the first ever president to appoint a U.S. Chief of Data Scientist in his administration. It’s a really hot field.”
College of DuPage is an accredited community college that serves more than 29,000 students each term. The College, which grants nine associate degrees and more than 170 certificates in 100 areas of study, is the second largest provider of public undergraduate education in Illinois.
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