UC Riverside launches data science major

University of California, Riverside (UCR) has launched a new Data Science major, an intercollegiate partnership between the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) in the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) and the Department of Statistics in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS). The new program was designed as a pathway for UCR undergraduate students to join the emerging field of Data Science, a field that is revolutionizing science and industry.

Data appears everywhere and affects everything from government, business and daily life, to health, agriculture and science. The field of Data Science has emerged to address this proliferation of data and the need to manage and understand it. Glassdoor lists Data Scientist among the top 3 best jobs in the last five years. Similarly, Data Science is among the top trends in LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report. What's more, a 2018 McKinsey Global institute report estimates that Artificial Intelligence could deliver additional economic output of around $13 trillion by 2030, boosting global GDP by about 1.2 percent a year.

“According to economists, ‘data is the new oil,’” said Vassilis Tsotras, professor of computer science and engineering, who co-developed the new major and serves as its director. “Extracting data insights provides a competitive advantage. Joining the program prepares students with the expertise to become leaders in this evolving field.”

Students take courses from both Computer Science and Statistics as well as breadth courses in other disciplines like Biology, Business, Economics, Electrical Engineering and Earth Sciences. Students are admitted to the major either through BCOE or CNAS.

In the program, students will learn to “master the whole data lifecycle, from gathering and cleaning, to storing and processing, to data visualization, mining and analysis as well as ethics,” according to Tsotras. 

The design of the Data Science major was influenced by a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences, which calls upon higher education to consider how to best prepare students for the data-driven era of tomorrow and stresses the critical need for undergraduate teaching to offer more exposure to data science and expand the supply of talent.

While some universities offer minors or concentrations in Data Science, UCR is among the few universities to now offer Data Science as an undergraduate major.

Furthermore, "establishing this degree moves UCR into this rapidly growing field and will significantly strengthen the portfolio of degree options for potential undergraduate students. The data science field has shown to be a popular choice, including among women and domestic students, and as such will contribute to the UCR student body diversity,” said Daniel R. Jeske, professor of statistics and vice provost of academic personnel, who co-developed the program.

Jeske continued that, in addition to an excellent job outlook, the degree provides an appealing pathway to graduate school in statistics, computer science, data science, and related fields such as business and economics.

The program is co-directed by Yehua Li, professor of statistics, and includes faculty from both CSE and statistics who are conducting innovative research at the cutting edge of data science.

To learn more about the program, visit

Data Science at UCR
Professor Vagelis Papalexakis of computer science and engineering works with students to solve a data science problem
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