Major Explorations: Data Science

student working on a laptop

When you’re trying to decide which academic program is right for you, knowledge is power. That’s why we want to give you a deeper look into our majors, explain how you can tailor CSU academics to fit your passions and goals, and connect you to resources to ensure you’re getting what you need once you’re here.

In this installment of Major Explorations, we’re going to introduce you to the Data Science major, a newer major that’s rising to meet the needs of the digital world.

What is data science?

Put simply, data science is the process of taking big sets of numbers and transforming them into information that professionals in almost every sector can use to do their jobs better, make the world a better place, or create products that better suit people’s needs. Data science is used everywhere from banking to healthcare to gaming to the government. The data science field employs mathematics, statistics, and computer science disciplines, and incorporates techniques like machine learning, cluster analysis, and visualization. This allows companies and organizations to do everything from rein in costs to predict future public health trends or big weather events.

The Data Science major at CSU

The Data Science major at CSU was the first of its kind in the region, offering a unique combination of courses in mathematics, statistics, and computer science. It’s housed within CSU’s College of Natural Sciences as an interdisciplinary major, and features brand-new courses like Data Wrangling and Data Visualization, two courses that combine deep analytical skills with a creative eye.

Within the major, you’ll be able to choose your focus from four concentration areas: Computer Science, Economics, Mathematics, or Statistics. With a concentration, you can really hone in on your field of interest and prepare for a career there. Seriously. You want to work at Netflix? You want to help stop climate change? You want to prevent the spread of infectious disease? There’s a data science job for that.

But what can you do with a degree in data science?

Data science has been the top-rated job in the United States for the past two years, and it has massive earning potential (with an average starting salary in the six figures). And data science’s unique combination of analytical and creative visualization skills make it suitable for any dedicated, hard-working student.

Some jobs (and what they do) in the field include:

  • Machine Learning Engineers work with both mathematics and coding, specifically within the realm of Artificial Intelligence (we’re talking robots here. Robots!).
  • Data Analysts gather data, spot patterns, and produce visual reports and graphics to help make informed decisions (Psst: Making data visually understandable allows you to get creative in this role! Think infographics, graphic design, photos, colors!)
  • Data Architects go behind the scenes of data science to create the systems that manage big sets of data.
  • Business Analysts combine data science with best business practices to help advise and inform companies in everything from efficiency to public relations. (They often act as the go-between for the execs and technical staff).

Data science pays.

Jobs in data are everywhere and in nearly every industry. Whether you want to work at the big-names places like Google, Hewlett Packard (P.S.; a lot of our students work or complete internships at our local HP facilities!), or Amazon, or you want to jump into a cool local startup, there’s a big need for data-savvy grads, and the paychecks reflect that, too.

See yourself in this major?

Explore the Data Science major, see the classes you’ll take, and learn about Data Science clubs and organizations.


Prairie Smallwood

Prairie Smallwood is a writer and content creator for the Office of Admissions at Colorado State University. She is passionate about education and exploration, and knows that going to college can be both an adventure and an overwhelming experience. She aims to create content that helps students through that journey — the wonderful, the scary, and everything in between.