Bachelor of Science in Data Science

The question facing every organization today is how to use data effectively: not just their own data, but all data that is relevant and available. The requisite expertise goes beyond traditional statistics and spreadsheet-level modeling. The data science practitioner must holistically approach massive and varied data sources. The requires many activities, including finding, conditioning, exploring, warehousing, and modeling of data, as well as the final step of making sense of the data, using visualization, machine learning, and statistics, and explaining it to others. The data science degree emphasizes the critical arc that runs from data to information, information to knowledge, and knowledge to decision making.

While the field of data science is known by a variety of names, including data analytics, business analytics, and business intelligence, there is no question that there is a huge demand for data science professionals. McKinsey & Co. forecasts that the United States will face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with data science skills by 2018. This isn't a surprise, as by the end of 2012, more than 90% of the Fortune 500 companies will have data science initiatives under way. Locally, Procter & Gamble plans to quadruple the number of personnel with analytics expertise, while national companies like Facebook have announced plans to double the size of their data science teams.

Starting in Fall 2013, NKU will offer the tri-state's first Bachelor of Science in Data Science degree. Building on a core of computer science, information systems, statistics and mathematics, the curriculum will focus on foundations of data science, statistical modeling, data mining, business analytics, and scientific visualization. A capstone experience, in which students will obtain, condition, explore, model, and interpret a big data set, is central to the degree. Students can focus their studies in one of the two tracks described below or maintain flexibility by not choosing a track.

Graduates of the data science program will be able to

  • Understand the mathematical and statistical foundations of data science.
  • Understand the business context in which data science functions.
  • Implement algorithms for data aggregation, cleaning, and analysis.
  • Select and apply appropriate data analysis techniques to a variety of tasks, including big data sets.
  • Communicate data analysis findings with appropriate visualizations.

Students who plan to undertake studies in data science will need a background in mathematics equivalent to four years of high school that includes algebra I and II, geometry, and trigonometry. An ACT math score of 25 or more or an SAT math score of 570 or more indicate mastery at a level ready to begin the core courses in data science. Deficiencies in a student's background can be remedied in courses taught at NKU. Placement into the appropriate course is based on the student's ACT math score or SAT math score and in some cases a placement exam administered at NKU.


  1. Billions and billions: big data becomes a big deal (Deloitte)
  2. Data Science Revealed: A Data-Driven Glimpse into the Burgeoning New Field (EMC)
  3. Data Scientist: Hot Big Data Job (Information Week)
  4. Why Procter & Gamble is Quadrupling Analytics Expertise (Information Week)
  5. Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity (McKinsey & Co.)
  6. What Facebook Knows (MIT Technology Review)