Carroll College Offers New Data Science Degree

Thursday, May 31, 2018

HELENA, MT – Carroll College is pleased to announce a new undergraduate degree in Data Science. Data Science is one of the fastest growing present-day careers both nationally and internationally. It combines computer science, mathematics, statistics, and business knowledge with the goal of analyzing and understanding data in its various forms.

“We are at the forefront of what other colleges and universities around Montana are doing to train students in the skills required to be a Data Scientist,” said Eric Sullivan, associate professor of mathematics. “Carroll's liberal arts focus gives our students a wider exposure than just computer science and statistics; they are prepared to not only handle the technical problems but also to understand the ethical, economic, humanitarian, and business aspects of big data analysis. Coming out of our program, our students will understand data, be able to write programs to make sense of it, and will be able to apply it to the specific demands of whichever industry they're working in,” said Sullivan. 

The new Data Science major and minor at Carroll gives students a blend of skills including computer programming, database management, applied mathematics and statistics, business operations research, machine learning, advanced statistical methods, and advanced computing. In addition, students will be engaged in real data science projects locally through Carroll’s Math in the Mountains program and through the students’ Senior Data Science Capstone projects. Carroll Data Science courses employ real data sets in a variety of different fields such as medical diagnostics, image recognition, economic predictions, transportation analysis, ecological classification, and many others.

Demand for Data Scientists is projected to grow by more than 25% in the next several years1. According to a Glassdoor survey, the median salary for a well-trained Data Scientist is approximately $121,000. The demand for Data Scientists far exceeds the supply both nationally and locally in Montana.2

“At Carroll we are focused on preparing our students for successful careers. With this new degree, we recognized an overwhelming demand for these skillsets in the workforce. The faculty in our mathematics, computer science and engineering departments worked collaboratively to design a degree program that responds to both the needs of the workforce and provides our students with a breadth of skills applicable to a variety of fields,” said Dr. John Cech, Carroll College's incoming president.

The program is naturally multidisciplinary and gives students a wide body of knowledge to draw from in order to solve problems and communicate solutions. “Data science is not just restricted to the technical fields such as math, statistics, and computer science. There are very few industries these days that have not been impacted by big data analysis and data science. Companies are gathering massive amounts of data on their customers and their products and they need people with the proper skill sets to analyze it. This is precisely what we're preparing our students for,” said Sullivan.

Carroll has piloted several data science courses which have already resulted in Carroll College students acquiring internships and research experiences doing data science. One student will be working as a machine learning and data science intern for a diabetes research group in Seattle this summer. Another student will be doing artificial intelligence research at UCLA. A third student has been doing data science and statistics consulting work for a local Helena business. “These opportunities have arisen out of our new program at Carroll and we look forward to placing more students in opportunities such as these moving forward,” said Sullivan.

To learn more about the Data Science degree at Carroll College, visit