Data Science

Ever wondered how Spotify compiles personal year-in-review playlists every December? Or how crime-data maps of different neighborhoods can be so specific?

Data science is an interdisciplinary field that lies at the intersection of mathematics, statistics, and computer science, and often partners with business, engineering and bioinformatics. It is a rapidly evolving field that requires technical skills, critical thinking and strong communication skills.

Beyond providing Spotify users with playlists of songs most listened to, professional data scientists solve a wide array of large-scale problems using data. For example, huge traffic datasets can be analyzed to inform governments about needed roadwork and improvements. Medical data can be examined to find a variety of solutions, from reducing misdiagnosis to predicting disease.

Data science majors generally take one of two paths — the theoretical track and the applied track. The Roanoke College data science program will prepare students for either one. The theoretical track prepares students for graduate school or working for a technologically advanced company such as Amazon. The applied track, for students who are interested in immediate employment, prepares students to enter the business world. Students learn the language of business and finance, and acquire analytics skills currently used in the workplace.

We offer a major in Data Science. 

In the 2019 CareerCast job rankings, Data Scientist is No. 1, with Statistician at No. 2.

“The two-semester capstone sequence helps students reflect on the skills acquired in the program in order to ask and answer questions about large data sets and use those to help solve the world’s important problems”

Dr. David Taylor, who coordinated the cross-campus development of the major

Sample Course Offerings:

  • DATA 170: Data MiningStudents with laptops
  • DATA 248: Data Visualization
  • DATA 350: Databases

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Taylor Ferebee builds Movie Predictor app and multi-predictor algorithm

Photo of Taylor Ferebee with an iPadMathematics and physics major Taylor Ferebee '17 is a huge film buff. (Her favorite movie? "Dirty Harry.") Taylor decided to combine her love of filmmaking with her passion for mathematical concepts. Her initial goal was to create an app that could predict the box office success of a film using artificial intelligence. That goal accomplished, Taylor now has upped the ante: She's creating a working multi-predictor algorithm that she can sell-primarily to very tech-savvy people with very specific interests-by 2020. "I've been looking into predicting health outcomes, specifically of college students," Taylor says.