Statistics and interdisciplinary study are the focus of three new academic programs at the University of Virginia (UVA), The Daily Progress reports. Two of them — both undergraduate — begin this year, while a third — a new Ph.D. program in the School of Architecture — will begin in 2014.

The UVa College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences is offering a new minor — statistical analysis of social behavior — while the McIntire School of Commerce adds a new study track called quantitative finance. Both programs are intended to help students deal with the growing importance of data and statistics in traditionally “soft” fields such as economics and sociology.

Finance was one of the first fields to get in on the data craze, said Michael Gallmeyer, an associate professor of commerce finance. But the field is evolving, as firms increasingly use complex mathematical models in their decision-making.

Students are realizing this and they’re interested in learning about this growing part of the field.

“We’ve been moving in that direction for years inside McIntire … and we’ve found there are some students who need a bit more, who want a bit more,” Gallmeyer said. “And this track grew out of that demand.”

Quantitative finance will be an academic track — a guide to help place students interested in financial data into the right courses — plus a capstone course, offered exclusively to McIntire students. If the first batch of 22 students is successful, administrators may try to convert it into a minor, which would allow any student to enroll, Gallmeyer said.

… It’s too early to tell how many students will enroll, Holt said, because they typically try to take a few of the prerequisite courses before taking on a minor. But the focus on statistics is clearly needed, he said.

“It’s the general sense that students in social sciences majors could use more quantitative training,” Holt said.

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eCampus News staff and wire reports


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