Everything goes in first-of-its-kind science degree

In partnership with a for-profit company, the University of New Haven has launched a new degree in data science that combines academic learning and work experience.

data-science-degreeIn the wake of an influential 2011 McKinsey report showing that the U.S. may face a shortfall of 190,000 data scientists by 2018, several prominent universities—including Columbia, Stanford, and UC Berkeley—have begun offering degrees in the subject. The latest entrant—the University of New Haven—is taking a different approach, with an experiential degree that is anchored in real-life industry work.

Launched in March, UNH’s Master of Science in Data Science is the product of an unusual partnership with Galvanize, a company that is part tech education startup and part industry incubator. The UNH degree program, known as GalvanizeU, will operate out of Galvanize’s large campus in the SOMA district of San Francisco, which is also home to various startup initiatives under the company’s wing.

The decision by UNH to partner with a for-profit company was spurred by the rapid pace at which the data science field is evolving. “Universities tend to work at slow speed at best; comparatively, industry moves much, much faster,” said Ron Harichandran, dean of the Tagliatela College of Engineering at UNH. “Galvanize has a fast entrepreneurial approach that is stimulating to us. They’re a little more oriented like industry than academia. They move quickly.”

Even more important in UNH’s eyes, Galvanize is plugged into Silicon Valley’s corporate and startup culture, opening the door for students to gain hands-on industry experience as part of the degree program. “Galvanize’s connections in industry are a big advantage,” said Harichandran. “For us, establishing those connections would take a lot of time and effort, plus Galvanize is on location in the Bay Area. They bring already-established relationships to the table.”

(Next page: The innovative degree design; how students will gain experience)