*This statement has already been submitted to its intended destination.*

----------

Successful data scientists need to be able communicate not just verbally and in writing, but also

visually by way of graphs, dashboards, and animations. They need to have working knowledge of

modern database languages like SQL and big data architectures like Hadoop. They need to be able to

determine when to use modern statistical, machine learning, and optimization methods like the LASSO, neural networks, and random forests.

But successful students won't just have a practitioner's knowledge of these tools, because these tools

will be replaced eventually. They also need the depth in their backgrounds to evaluate and adapt to

additional systems and methods as they become available.

Therein lays the challenge: the demands upon a data scientist are broad, whereas a Master's degree is

typically a structured, focused, deep exploration of a single field. There simply isn't enough time to

cover all that's necessary to develop a prospective student starting with a bachelors degree in

Mathematics or Computer Science into a consummate data scientist in ten months.

Some topics will need to be sacrificed for the sake of brevity, but what? Different students will bring

diverse skills and affinities into such a degree program, and they will be good judges of what they

should focus on. However, a degree is essentially a set of requirements, which is another way of saying it's a set of guarantees. The better defined those requirements are, the clearer the guarantee of skill that the bearer of such a degree brings to future employers.

In the face of program that will inevitably be stretched thin across many competencies, there are two

competing needs: the need for students to develop the subset of these competencies that maximize their personal return, and the need for standardization across the program to make its value and quality obvious to all stakeholders. To reconcile these two needs, I envision a specialization system. Graduates from the ideal Master in Data Science program will also graduate with one of four specialties: visual analytics, databases, methodology, or algorithms.

Under this specialization program, all MDS candidates will be required to take a core of data scraping, imputation, R or SAS programming with an SQL component, modern regression such as GLMs, and scientific writing. This totals 15 graduate credits. The remaining 9 credits form a specialty.

**Database experts**would be most akin to software engineers. The courses for this specialty would

include one focused on the extract-transform-load paradigm, one focused on handling big data tools

like Hadoop. Graduates from this specialty would be expected to be able to implement automated tasks

for gathering, cleaning, and summarizing information from the web or some other digital sensor.

**Methologists**would take applied statistical courses like design of experiments, sampling, dimension

reduction, time series, and spatial statistics. What separates this specialty from a Master's degree in

statistics is the lack of emphasis on proofs. Students in these courses need not understand why a

method works, only how to assess through diagnostics and checklists that it is working and when it is

appropriate.

**Visual analytics**specialists would take courses focused on user interfaces and communication,

including graphing and data cartography, dashboards, and additional writing work such as survey

design. Graduates from this specialty would be expected to demonstrate familiarity with popular

database interface like Jaspersoft and Tableau.

**Algorithm experts**would focus their additional coursework on new ways to find meaning from the

data deluge. Their corpus would include machine learning, optimization methods like quadrature and

simulated annealing, text processing concepts such as regular expressions and edit distance, image

processing, clustering, compression and information theory.

A graduate with skills in any one of these four specialties fits nicely under what we know as a data

science today. This vision is a grand one, and far too large for a new master's program to take on, but

it's the endgame i have in mind for this program.