Starting in fall 2017, Aquinas College will offer a major and minor in Data Analytics, a fast-growing field that prepares students to process and present data in an increasingly data-driven world.
Graduates with this major or minor will be able to use mathematical and statistical techniques, combined with programming and software applications to spot trends and other behavior, then present the analysis for wider understanding. This is an interdisciplinary field that combines statistics, mathematics, computer programming, information technology, and business administration.
Advances in technology, such as smartphones, social networking, and e-commerce, in the past five years have been accompanied by an explosion of data. Some experts estimate that over 90% of the world’s data has been created during this period.
“As the practice of data-driven decision making has proliferated across industries, the demand for graduates with the skills required to derive analytical insights from complex data sources has continued to grow,” said Andrew Borgman, a biostatistician at Spectrum Health. “The Aquinas College Data Analytics Program will provide students with the necessary technical skills and business acumen to tackle today's challenging problems found at the intersection of mathematics, computer science, and business.”
More and more, businesses, government agencies, the healthcare industry, research labs, and many other employers are hiring data analysts to help them make sense of their data.
Below are some statistics that describe the industry demand for data analysts:
A report by the McKinsey Global Institute in 2011 predicted a shortfall in the U.S. of 140,000 – 190,000 people by 2018 with the analytical skills needed to meet the industry’s data analysis needs.
The job-search website indeed.com shows that the percentage of jobs with descriptions containing the phrase “big data analytics” has increased more than four-fold since 2012. In 2015, the International Data Corporation predicted that there would be nearly one million positions in the U.S. by 2018 that require skills in data management and interpretation.
Further, salaries for jobs in this field are very competitive. According to datajobs.com, an entry-level data analyst could expect a salary in the range $50,000-$75,000, while the salary range of an experienced data analyst falls between $65,000-$110,000.
While the major would provide a foundation in advanced statistical techniques for analyzing data sets, the minor would equip students with a smaller amount of statistics terminology and techniques, an introduction to computer programming and spreadsheet usage and a look at data techniques in the context of other disciplines. Students with this minor would be in a position to contribute to data analysis solutions in the workplace, to provide insights that could lead to data-driven decisions, and possibly to attend a graduate program in analytics.
Data Analytics Student Learning Outcomes
Upon successfully completing a Data Analytics major, students have gained:
- a breadth and depth of mathematics and statistics skills necessary to apply high-level analytical thinking to data analysis problems
- an exposure to the basics of computer programming and analytics software use and, thus, the ability to quickly acquire technological know-how demanded on the job.
- a foundation in business vocabulary, practices, and conventions necessary for an appreciation of the culture in which they will likely be working.
- the change to practice data analytics techniques on real-world data sets and to compile a project portfolio to show potential employers