As a diverse discipline that combines elements of mathematics, statistics, and computer science, data science is a relatively new technical field with many applications in commercial and scientific pursuits. The specific subjects and focus of an undergraduate degree depend on individual programs and schools. In most cases, students take advanced classes that cover various aspects of computer modeling and algorithms as well as math and statistical analysis. Due to the technical and specific nature of a data science major, choosing a minor presents an opportunity for students to expand their curriculum into other areas of interest or build on their future resume with additional skills.
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Networking and Information Systems
While some data scientists work directly with statistics and information, many fill administrative roles supervising database management and utilization. A firm understanding of computer systems and networks is a strong skill for almost any job applicant in the industry. These skills also open up additional professional opportunities for those interested in exploring the boundaries of their career and skill-set.
Computer Science and Coding
Computer science is already an integral part of most data science degrees, but it’s difficult for students to get too much education in this area. Machine learning is one of the emerging careers within the field of data science and demand for these professionals has increased exponentially in a five-year period, according to Forbes. Machine learning has applications throughout the field, so all data science professionals and students should be aware of its future potential. A minor in the computer sciences also allows students to learn more programming languages and gain more experience using them.
Communications and Public Speaking
A minor in public speaking or business communications may not harmonize with the technical nature of a data science degree, but they do provide key professional skills. Professionals in the industry typically work in collaboration with various team members, including those with business, marketing, and computer science backgrounds. This means they should be comfortable working in different types of situations and need the ability to communicate clearly despite differing perspectives and levels of understanding.
Business and Accounting
Data scientists can find job opportunities at all kinds of organizations, ranging from government agencies to corporations and non-profits. Students who are interested in pushing their career towards business or finance should strongly consider a minor in business management or accounting. These skills not only give professionals a boost when it comes to a business career, but they also prepare them to work alongside corporate executives in a fast-paced, demanding environment. Accounting can be a particularly useful minor for those who plan to apply their data science skills to investment or money management concerns.
After the struggle to find the right major, it’s easy for students to shrug off their minor selection as a secondary objective. It’s certainly important to prioritize primary coursework, but that doesn’t mean other courses aren’t important. Choosing a minor that pairs well with a data science major can be a career and life-changing decision for those who want to shape their career to fit their interests.