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Enrollments surge in UW-Eau Claire's Master of Science in Data Science Program

| Allyson Gommer

Professionals preparing for the fast-growing field of data science are finding their future in big data with UW-Eau Claire’s online Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) Program. Since the program’s launch two years ago, more than 90 students have started their journey toward a career as a data scientist.

One of the reasons behind this growth is the bright career outlook for data professionals. McKinsey Group reports that, in the U.S., demand for deep analytical talent could be 50 to 60 percent greater than its projected supply by 2018. The national average salary for data scientists is $113,436, according to Glassdoor. A recent search on LinkedIn reveals more than 8,000 data scientist job openings nationwide. More than 5,000 of these jobs were posted in the last month. More than 300 were posted in the last 24 hours alone, suggesting that those who pursue a data science degree can literally (and figuratively) bank on job security.

Another reason for the success of the program is that an industry advisory board consisting of leading organizations such as American Family, CUNA Mutual Group, Nicolet Bank and TDS Telecom, helped align the curriculum with employer needs. “The MSDS was designed with significant input from business and industry leaders,” according to Dr. Alex Smith, professor and chair of the mathematics department and MSDS academic director at UW-Eau Claire. “In addition, students get access to the latest technology — powerful tools including SQL Server, R, Python, Tableau and more. We round out the curriculum with leadership and communication skills so graduates will be able to make use of their findings.”

The convenient, online format is also credited for the success of the program, allowing students to continue working while earning their data science degrees. “The online format is a great choice for busy professionals,” said David Schejbal, dean of the Division of Continuing Education, Outreach and E-Learning for UW-Extension. “All course content is provided by distinguished UW faculty. Their expertise, combined with our division’s award-winning instructional and media design, ensures a rich, flexible and engaging educational experience that prepares students for success in data science and analytics careers.”

Application deadlines are May 1 for summer, July 1 for fall and Dec. 1 for spring. The program is intended for students who already have earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics, analytics, computer science or marketing — or have three to five years of professional experience as a business intelligence analyst, data analyst, financial analyst, information technology analyst, database administrator, computer programmer, statistician or other related position.

The online degree is a collaborative partnership among UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW Oshkosh, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Superior, and is administered by UW-Extension.

Prospective students seeking more information about the program are encouraged to visit, call 1-877-895-3276, or email

News editors: For more information or to arrange an interview about this degree program, contact Phil Huelsbeck, UW-Eau Claire Continuing Education, at 715-836-5400 or