Data Science Major to be Capped Starting Fall 2018


Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego

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The Data Science major at UC San Diego, which was added in Fall 2017, will begin limiting enrollment in the major on July 1 due to growing demand. Students will be accepted into the major based on their GPA in three screening courses: Math 20C, Math 18/20F, and DSC 10.  

Data Science is an interdisciplinary field that studies statistics and machine learning and applies it to data collection methods and modern technology. According to the department, there are currently 387 students declared in the major.

“Data has emerged in our society as an essential means by which we can better understand the world around us and vastly improve the way we conduct business, govern, and deliver healthcare,” a statement from the major’s department website said. “Yet, the methods and tools of this emerging field of data science are still in its early stages of development and not yet in practice.”

Current undergraduates who would like to enter the major during the 2017-18 academic year can do so as long as they meet the major’s entry requirements, in which students must take DSC 10, MATH 18/20F, and MATH 20C. However, beginning with the 2018-19 academic year, prospective students must use the Capped Major Application; complete 24 units for letter grades; complete DSC 10, MATH 20C, and MATH 18/20F; and apply by the end of their sixth quarter at UCSD. The incoming freshman class of 2022 who were accepted into the Data Science major will not be affected.

“Typically, student demand for a new major starts small and grows with time. However, we realize that the student demand for the major is disproportionately high relative to the resources,” said Mohan Paturi, professor and faculty advisor in the department. “While we plan to ramp up the program to meet the demand, it takes time to hire the faculty and develop the structures to offer a strong academic program to a large number of majors. As we ramp up, we hope to admit more students.”

“I think the major should be capped because there are many students who don’t study data science but still take the major’s classes,” said Athena Liu, first year Data Science major. “Those who are studying Data Science can’t get into a lot of these classes, so making it capped helps let those who are serious about the major take the data science courses.”

While the major is new to UCSD, the growth of data science as a field has affected the entire UC school system. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Campuses are quickly adding data science programs in response to soaring workplace demand.”

Last Wednesday, UC Berkeley’s Daily Californian reported that the university is “on the verge” of launching its own Data Science major. And last year, LinkedIn released a 2017 report which found that the fastest growing jobs are in data science and machine learning, citing that demand for data scientists has grown by 650 percent.

In 2017, the Data Science Institute received a $75 million donation from UCSD ’96 alum and early Facebook developer Taner Halicioğlu, the largest donation UCSD has ever received from one of its graduates.

Last month, UCSD officially opened the Halicioğlu Data Science Institute as a center for the latest data science research and technology. At the opening ceremony, which hosted guest speaker Bill Nye, UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla stated that data science “is going to be the discipline of the future.”

Data Science will continue to be an open, uncapped major for the remainder of the 2017-18 academic year.

Anabel King is a Staff Writer at The Triton.