Earlier this month, Professor Jennifer Cronin and I discussed Notre Dame’s online MS-ACMS: Data Science program and how we educate “three-dimensional data scientists” during a live information session. We covered topics such as:

  • What constitutes a three-dimensional data scientist
  • How our program produces three-dimensional data scientists
  • How the online experience our program offers helps students succeed

Watch our information session recording or read the recap below to learn more about becoming a three-dimensional data scientist and what makes our online MS-ACMS: Data Science program unique.

Information Session Recap

How does our program produce three-dimensional data scientists?

Unlike many other online programs, when we created the MS-ACMS: Data Science program, we didn’t just take our on-campus courses and put them online. These online courses were developed from the ground up so that we can help our students become three-dimensional data scientists. This means the coursework students experience is specifically designed to weave together three key areas: technical abilities, ethical thinking and communication skills.

Beyond coursework, we also have optional immersion weekends that allow students to meet fellow cohort members, as well as faculty. It also gives them the opportunity to work with industry partners and learn more about what life will be like after graduation. For example, at one of our optional immersions in Palo Alto, California, we brought in cybersecurity experts from around the Bay Area to give our students real insight into how cybersecurity practices actually work and how they impact data science on a day-to-day basis. This provides our students with another opportunity to gain real-world insight beyond the classroom, which is important for success as a data scientist.

What constitutes a three-dimensional data scientist?

When we created this program, we listened closely to what our industry partners had to say. What we heard was that while it’s essential for data scientists to be technically rigorous, it’s no longer enough.

Data scientists must also think critically, act ethically and be experts in communication and visualization. They must be able to tell the story behind the data they are working with because the most robust analysis isn’t going to matter if they’re unable to communicate the impact of the data they uncovered in a compelling way.

Thus emerged the concept of the three-dimensional data scientist, a practitioner who can meet industry demands with:

  1. A solid foundation in quantitative analytics and technical skills
  2. The ability to think critically and act ethically
  3. Expertise in data communication and visualization

How does the online experience help develop three-dimensional data scientists?

Often in a more traditional online experience, students watch a lecture, read a lot of material and post on a discussion board. Since our program focuses on developing critical thinking and communication skills, we adopted a different approach to our online experience.

Professor Cronin described this experience:

“With our program, once a week you’re going to go online at the same time as all of your peers and your instructors. That is a time where you’re going to discuss the readings that you had for that week or where you might discuss homework. For example, in my course I have tons of activities where we kind of break out into groups and complete some type of task that asks you to think critically about a program or problem.”

The material that students learn before each session goes beyond static readings.

“We’ve developed lots of ways to teach you the material so everything from maybe watching a video to going through case studies. In my class, we even hired actors and we have mini-videos telling you a different story in order to illustrate course concepts. It may be that you interact with a graphic, so it’s not just that [you’re] getting online and reading. There are lots of different ways that you can take in material,” said Cronin.

Now that you’ve heard from our faculty, learn what our students think about the program by watching our student-led information session.

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