New Data Science programs designed to address industry demands with career-ready grads

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: November 1, 2022 9:00 a.m.

New undergraduate and graduate programs in Data Science at the U of R aims to address the increased demand for data scientists worldwide and right here at home.
New undergraduate and graduate programs in Data Science at the U of R aims to address the increased demand for data scientists worldwide and right here at home. Credit: U of R Photography

The Faculty of Science has introduced its new undergraduate and graduate programs in Data Science to address the increased demand for data scientists worldwide and right here at home.

Modern society is data-driven. Over the last ten years, the amount of data created and processed worldwide has grown exponentially by almost 5,000 %, from 1.2 trillion gigabytes in 2010 to 59 trillion gigabytes in 2020. As a result, data has become the most valuable resource in the world. Fast and optimal data processing to extract new knowledge is therefore of paramount importance.

The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) has identified the "Data Scientist" profession as one of the 15 top digital jobs that will be most needed in Canada, and predicted that the demand for qualified, digitally-skilled talent in Canada would reach over 305,000 by 2023.

The new program was developed in partnership with Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), which created the SGI Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Data Science in Fall 2020. This fellowship allowed the Faculty of Science to develop the course content for both undergraduate and graduate level data science programs.

This isn’t the first time the Faculty of Science has developed a new program to address specific industry needs.

In the early 2000s, organizations like SGI and Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) worked with the Faculty to develop a new program in actuarial science, which is a branch of mathematical science that deals with pensions, insurance, liability and other areas of financial mathematics.

Many members of SGI’s senior leadership are graduates of the U of R’s Actuarial Science program – so it makes sense to utilize their established partnership with the U of R to address their organization’s increasing need for data analytics experts.

“SGI’s strategic partnership with the U of R has helped enable the development of specific skillsets inside Saskatchewan to the benefit of students, our organization, and the province more broadly,” said Robert Osicki, Executive Vice-President and Chief Insurance Officer with SGI. “We are so excited about the programming the U of R has designed for students looking for careers in the Data Science field and are proud to be associated with the creation of the Data Science program that addresses an important skills need for our organization and many others.”

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Dean of the Faculty of Science Doug Farenick (left) meets with Faculty of Science graduates and current industry partners at SGI Nathan Wallbaum (middle) and Robert Osicki (right). Photo: U of R Photography.

The graduate-level Data Science program is a two-year master’s degree and is entirely course-based (no thesis requirement) through the Department of Computer Science.

The four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Data Science takes a more inter-disciplinary approach as it is offered collaboratively through Computer Science and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

“The program is a mix of math, statistics, and computer science, which appeals to very many students,” said Faculty of Science Dean Doug Farenick. “We’re hoping this program will attract students who want to work with data, analyze it, and make predictions using data.”

“If you have a passion for something – whether that’s sports, health, finance, human rights or anything else – there is a wide range of careers available to students studying data science.”

The current Fall 2022 semester was the first intake for both the undergraduate and graduate programs and student Yash Joshi is glad to have found a program that aligns with his interests.

“Data science is one of the fastest emerging, in-demand field in the industry,” said Joshi. “Using machine-learning to gather insights from data has always been an interest of mine and this program brought that together perfectly for me, so my decision to choose the Data Science program was really a no-brainer.”

To learn more about the Data Science programs or get in touch with someone from the Faculty, visit the Faculty of Science website.