Northcentral University Introduces New Approach to Data Science Graduate Education

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Data science degrees align directly to the industry’s lifecycle, enabling graduates to leverage learnings far into the future

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We believe we are the first to take this approach to data science education,” says Dr. Sapp. “By working with a real data set throughout their program, our students will develop a holistic understanding of the continuous nature of the data lifecycle and its applications across multiple fields.

Northcentral University’s School of Technology, led by Dean J. Robert Sapp, EdD, has announced a groundbreaking approach to data science graduate education, now available through the school’s Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Data Science programs.

The current demand for data scientists is irrefutable. In fact, IBM and the Business-Higher Education Forum estimate that there will be 2.7 million open data and analytics positions in the US by 2020. What’s more, data science is changing at an unparalleled rate, with continual advancements and new applications in the field.

As higher education institutions race to meet the market need for qualified data scientists, the emerging requirements challenge the status quo for preparing these professionals for the jobs of tomorrow. The core issue: tomorrow’s jobs will be entirely different than they are today.

Most colleges and universities have programs that focus on specific areas of data science such as data management or quantitative methods. The Northcentral University (NCU) programs emphasize the complete data science lifecycle and the transitions between each phase. This curricular alignment is a critical element in the School of Technology’s master’s and doctorate programs.

“We believe we are the first to take this approach to data science education,” says Dr. Sapp. “By working with real data sets and standard tools, our students will develop a holistic understanding of the entire process of data science and not just selected elements and partial processes.”

The Master of Science begins with an investigation of the key process and tools in the data science lifecycle. Students will progress through classes in applied research design and learn to select, acquire and prepare data for analysis. The quantitative analysis portion of the program includes descriptive and inferential statistics with an emphasis on selecting the appropriate quantitative model for the research. Students will learn to evaluate and interpret the output from the models they run, with instruction that emphasizes multiple means for reporting the outcome of research in actionable methods, including textual, tabular and graphical formats.

Key courses in the program include Database Systems and Business Intelligence, Data Mining, Inferential Statistics and Predictive Analytics, and Data Visualization.

NCU’s data science doctoral students will dig even deeper into the phases of the life cycle, gaining more skills and knowledge in advanced areas such as Big Data Integration, Multivariate Analysis, and Experimental Methods. The doctoral program emphasizes the application of these techniques in industry contexts. Students will be encouraged to select data sets and conduct analysis that is most appropriate to their areas of interest to complete a dissertation.

“While we have selected tools and applications that represent the standards of the industry, our instruction is focused on the processes and concepts that underlie the tasks in data science,” Dr. Sapp explains. “The programs will change. New tools will emerge. But the application of the theories associated with data science will continue to be relevant long after these changes occur.”

NCU’s School of Technology currently offers eight degree programs in the fields of computer science, cybersecurity, information technology, and others. For more information, please visit

About Northcentral University

Founded in 1996, Northcentral University is a regionally accredited, private, online and graduate-focused university serving professionals globally. With no physical residency requirements, courses are taught one-to-one by an NCU professor with a doctoral degree. NCU offers doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business, education, and psychology, as well as doctoral and master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy and technology. Northcentral University is regionally accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510.748.9001, For more information, visit or call 866.776.0331.

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Greg Pollack
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