MRU launching Alberta’s first four-year data science degree as demand for graduates surges in dynamic discipline

Aug. 1, 2023

Alberta’s first four-year bachelor’s degree in data science, at Mount Royal University, will prepare students for careers in a variety of fields experiencing high demand for graduates in this dynamic discipline.

Students in the program, which will begin taking applications for a Winter 2024 start with 50 students, then accept 100 students each fall, will explore the pillars of data science: math, statistics, computer science and domain knowledge. Through concentrations, specialized courses and work-integrated learning, they will prepare for leadership and collaboration in professional practice.

The degree, approved by the Ministry of Advanced Education in July, is a pathway to careers as a data scientist, data analyst, data and artificial intelligence domain architect and more in industries ranging from oil and gas to transportation, tech and the public sector.

“We are thrilled that this degree has been approved after significant effort by faculty and university staff to develop a program that puts MRU ahead of the curve,” said Dr. Jonathan Withey, DPhil, dean of the faculty of Science and Technology at MRU. “Governments, organizations and businesses have access to larger quantities and more kinds of data than ever before. Employers have told us that graduates who can extract valuable insights from datasets are increasingly sought after. We are meeting the needs of Alberta learners seeking to embrace a wide variety of opportunities in the field of data science.”

Involving the application of statistical analysis, machine learning, and computer science to discover patterns, trends, and correlations within vast data sets, data science combines techniques and methodologies to extract valuable insights and knowledge.

Data science enables practitioners to support decision-making processes, solve complex problems, and improve efficiency in business, healthcare, finance, and more. The field of data science is evolving rapidly as new tools, algorithms, and techniques emerge, making it an exciting and dynamic discipline with vast potential for innovation and discovery.

The degree will provide an excellent foundation in quantitative analysis, emphasize the ethical considerations of how data are collected and interpreted, and equip students with the skills to use data to solve problems. Students will have the opportunity to complete a concentration in mathematics and statistics, computing and big data, finance, or logistics and supply change management.

“With the explosion of data that is generated in part through our everyday online interactions, organizations have mountains of data and now they’re trying to figure out what they can do with it, how can they extract some meaningful information,” said Dr. Brady Killough, PhD, associate professor and chair of the department of Mathematics & Computing at MRU. “That’s where you get into these large-scale applications of either traditional statistical methods or some of the machine learning algorithms that are also in the news a lot these days.”

MRU’s is the first four-year data science undergraduate degree program in Alberta. It will offer upwards of seven new courses that integrate foundational math, stats and computer courses, something that differentiates it for prospective students.

“I see any new additions of technology related degrees as a major plus for people looking into Mount Royal University, and data science is nice because it’s a more specific sub sector of technology that includes both math and statistics,” said MRU Computer Information Systems student Ashley Hunchak, who is also the VP Student Engagement of the Computing Alliance of Mount Royal University. “Data science is a popular career path right now so I’m sure there will be a lot of interest from prospective students.”

Mount Royal is fortunate to have a number of faculty with data science experience in industry who have contributed to developing the degree. The Faculty of Science and Technology will also be hiring new faculty for the program, with help from the Government of Alberta’s Targeted Enrollment Expansion funding.

Read more about the new data science degree at MRU.

For further information, please contact:

Haley Jarmain, Communications Officer