Dordt College recently approved three majors: data science, statistics, and actuarial science.
“The world we live in is becoming so data-centric,” says Dr. Nathan Tintle, professor of statistics. “We have an increasing amount of ‘big data’ in a lot of industries such as finance, healthcare, sports, and education. There are massive sets of data available that people use to guide their decision making. These new and revised majors prepare students to be part of that conversation: figuring out how to draw conclusions from data.”
The data science major will offer a mix of courses in statistics and computer science. Tintle says that, with the sheer quantity of data that is now available, standard methods of analysis often are no longer sufficient, and desktop computers often aren’t capable. Figuring out how to use computing to analyze big data sets requires a lot of expertise. Data science majors can utilize Dordt’s parallel-computing cluster and training in cloud computing and data analytics to hone their skills.
Dordt has also decided to add a statistics major. Statistics majors are “utility players”: They can focus on biology, education, psychology, and more, but the specific methods—using data to tell stories—remain the same regardless of the field of application.
Dordt has also made significant changes to its existing actuarial science major to meet new expectations for program certifications. Until recently, the field of actuarial science has focused on making mathematical predictions about financial risk. With increasingly-available data and faster computer technology, actuarial science has shifted toward statistical analysis of past data.
“All three of these fields have jobs that are rated in the top ten in terms of pay, job security, and job outlook,” says Tintle. “We continue to project huge national shortages in these areas: a huge demand, and not a lot of people going into them. That’s one reason we think this is a good area to get into. We have the right faculty, the right infrastructure, interested students, and a huge demand in the world right now. These programs will give students numerous options for their future careers.”
The new majors will launch August of 2018.