University’s new online degrees target 'big data' boom

University’s new online degrees target

The University of NSW (UNSW) has launched two accelerated online degrees – one in data science and the other in analytics – to give its students the edge in the booming ‘big data’ industry.

Data science and analytics are emerging as pivotal skills as organisations harness the power of data to develop a competitive edge. Average salaries for data professionals are now well into six figures and growing rapidly against a backdrop of minimal wages growth across the broader jobs market.

“From advanced statistics and machine learning, through programming and database systems, to strategic decision-making, the skills you develop in the UNSW Master of Data Science will apply across all fields and industries and equip you for rapid career progression within organisations,” Associate Professor Yanan Fan, Program Director for the Master of Data Science, UNSW Science said.

Associate Professor John D’Ambra, Program Director for the Master of Analytics, UNSW Business School said the UNSW Master of Analytics provides students with the skills to source, analyse and apply data insights within any organisation, using the latest tools and techniques.

“This degree gives you strategic influencing skills so you can apply analytical insights to drive superior decision-making,” Professor D’Ambra said.

Each degree consists of 12 seven-week courses so that, with six intakes year, a candidate can complete the degree in as little as two years.

The programs include a Graduate Certificate requiring an initial four courses and Graduate Diploma requiring a further four courses, so candidates can articulate into the master’s degree. Alternatively, master’s candidates who choose not to complete the degree can exit with a certificate or diploma.

Both degrees are offered 100% online, so candidates can incorporate study into their busy working lives without stepping off the career track.

The online learning environment is designed to provide the same high-quality experience as that enjoyed by on-campus students. Every student is also supported by a personal Student Success Advisor who is on hand to help with non-academic queries by phone or email.

According to the Institute of Analytics Professionals of Australia (IAPA) 2017 Skills Salary Survey, the top 10% of earners of all data analytics professionals reported an average jump of 7% to a median salary of $235,000 in 2017.

The median salary of team managers and technical specialists was $163,000, while the average salary of an analytics professional was $130,000, well above the average salary of professionals at around $91,000 in May 2018.

This year, LinkedIn named ‘data scientist’ as leading its list of The Most Promising Jobs of 2019.

Data scientist positions “come with high salaries, a significant number of job openings and year-over-year growth, and are more likely to lead to a promotion.”

US job openings for data scientists posted year-on-year growth of 56% to 4,000-plus openings, according to LinkedIn.

IBM and BurningGlass have predicted that by 2020 the number of positions for data and analytics talent in the United States will increase by 600%. Demand is coming from business, government, healthcare providers and other organisations who need data analytics professionals to extract meaning from and interpret data.

Dr Tracy Wilcox, Academic Director, Postgraduate Programs, UNSW Business School said similar growth can be predicted for Australia, and as a result of this huge growth, salaries for data scientists and analysts are booming. 

“The industry is willing to pay top dollar for key roles and emerging data analytics talent. It is clear that these new fields are long-lasting and valuable,” Dr Wilcox said.

Dr Wilcox added that by launching these two postgraduate degrees, UNSW is also attempting to cut through the confusion between the roles of a data scientist, which involves very high-level statistical and programming skills, including developing artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“On the other hand, an analyst uses a broader set of analytical skills and tools to produce evidence-based insights from data,” she said.