A new two-year Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Applied Data Science program at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) trains students in skills that get them job-ready for the rapidly growing field of data science.
Designed for mature students who already have an undergraduate degree, the program is set to welcome its first students in the fall of 2023.
“This is the first time the Faculty of Science is offering a post-baccalaureate diploma,” says Associate Dean of Science Dr. Faheem Ahmed. “Post-baccalaureate diplomas have been successful in other disciplines at TRU, and our faculty have wanted one that can serve the needs of those who already have an undergraduate degree.”
The university currently offers a Master of Science in Data Science, which provides the theoretical knowledge needed to be an expert in the field. The Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Applied Data Science program, the first of its kind in the BC Interior, provides different tools.
“With the applied data science diploma, the focus is more towards developing the skill set required from an application perspective rather than a theoretical perspective,” says Ahmed.
Employment opportunities include data scientists in large private or public organizations and data analyst positions in software development, business intelligence, medical/health research and data management, to name a few. Professionals analyze data collected from different sources to help a business make better decisions.
Designed to help meet the growing demand for data science skills, the program invites students from different disciplines to apply.
“It’s been designed to be accessible,” says Kevin O’Neil, associate teaching professor in Computing Science. “That was one of the key things. Our master’s is for that person with a math degree and computing science degree. Not so for the diploma.”
Dr. Mateen Shaikh, assistant professor in Mathematics and Statistics, agrees.
“One thing that’s unique about a post-bacc rather than a master’s is that it’s aimed at people who don’t need to have a certain background. Either they’re interested in pursuing something more competitive, or they’ve decided to shift their career a little bit. A two-year program is really good to give you the skills that are necessary.”
Over the course of the program, students prepare for an industry that some say is recession-proof.
“It’s a good quality program that will put you in a position to have a great career that’s financially rewarding,” says O’Neil. “And it’s not a job that’s going to disappear.”
And as a data scientist, there’s a role for graduates in any company, in any field, says Shaikh.
“Essentially any company that collects or stores any of their own data — and in the 21st century you’d be very hard-pressed to find any company that no longer does that — needs the skill set the diploma offers. When it comes down to the actual day-to-day, we need people to start working through the data,” says Shaikh.
“There’s a lot of people needed to do that work, guiding the machine. Those skills are things that don’t require advanced math or advanced computing.”
Looking ahead, he hopes all students consider the program.
“If you’ve never done math in your undergrad degree, but you’re willing to learn what you need to for the sake of doing a really good job for the hiring company, then consider this program,” he says. “There’s a tremendous swath of companies that need a skill set the post-bacc targets. That’s the beauty of it. And for those who pursue this career, the sky’s the limit.”
For more information or to apply to the program, contact the program assistant at [email protected].