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Two New Degrees Prepare Students for Fast-Growing Fields of Statistics and Computer Science

This fall, the University of Northern Colorado’s College of Natural and Health Sciences (NHS) is launching two new degree programs, a Bachelor of Science in Statistics and Computer Science.

This fall, the University of Northern Colorado’s College of Natural and Health Sciences (NHS) is launching two new degree programs, a Bachelor of Science in Statistics and Computer Science. 

The programs were born in response to the rapidly expanding job opportunities for graduates with experience in these fields. While students could have studied these programs as concentrations within the mathematics major, they could not earn a stand-alone degree in these areas. College leadership and faculty created these two majors with a dedicated focus and job-ready approach. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Statistical Association, computer science careers will grow 21% in the next decade, while statistics jobs will grow by 33%. Additionally, the degree-seekers in these two areas have grown more than 400% in Colorado since 2012. Careers in computer science have an average salary of $103,238 and $100,910 for data scientists. Kamel Haddad, Ph.D., dean of NHS, said this is the reason they approached these new degrees from a career-first perspective. 

“You can leave UNC with a Computer Science degree and get a job with a starting salary of $80,000,” said Jodie Novak, chair and professor in UNC’s School of Mathematical Sciences. 

In addition to high-wage jobs, the degrees offer flexibility in a wide range of occupations based on other disciplines studied in tandem that provide additional perspectives, such as a minor in biology, criminal justice or environmental sciences.  

“NHS is committed to creating and delivering quality programs that are responsive to regional needs and aligned with the national workforce trajectory” says Haddad. 

For example, someone with a Computer Science degree can work for a tech company programming or creating apps, they can combine their programming skills with chemistry to perform computational chemistry, or even develop apps for a company to monitor and analyze water flow in rivers.  Someone with a Statistics degree is well prepared to work as an actuary for an insurance company, or as a data scientist in almost any field, from criminal justice, health care, business or event sports, building mathematical models for predictive analysis. 

With these new degrees come new professors who will conduct research and foster hands-on learning, as well as job readiness training. 

Kristin Kang, Ph.D., a statistician with expertise in developing models to test the reliability of nanotechnology, is joining the faculty of the School of Mathematical Sciences in fall of 2023. 

The two new degree programs are the latest example of the continued growth of NHS, the college housing the largest number of undergraduate students at UNC. In fall 2022, NHS added a new Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences,with two concentrations, Public Health and Healthcare Administration, intended to complement the hugely popular, nationally ranked nursing program that houses more than 600 students. These areas will see a 32% growth rate in employment in the next decade, which is more than any other field. 

Students apply to UNC’s competitive nursing program at the end of their sophomore year, with only about 70 students accepted into the program, according to Haddad. Some students choose to pursue another path. The new Health Sciences degree enables students to emulate the first two years of the nursing program, then apply to the Nursing degree or pursue another science program better suited to their skills or interests. 

The Public Health concentration is offered as a standalone bachelor’s degree, or the unique “4+1” program where students can earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just five years. It provides graduates with the education and skills needed to solve public health issues, which could range from COVID-19 to diabetes to teen pregnancy to any other current or future public health issue.  

The Healthcare Administration concentration, in partnership with the Monfort College of Business (MCB), offers a combination of healthcare and business classes, including management and human resources. With this degree, Haddad said, graduates can manage any medical facility, from traditional hospitals to veterinary centers, senior citizens facilities and dentists’ offices.  

According to Haddad, the Health Sciences degree offers undergraduate students in particular a unique opportunity, as both of the concentrations are typically only available to graduate students. 

“These programs offer students both small class sizes and the opportunity to gain valuable first-hand access to faculty research at the undergraduate level.” 

— written by Christina Abel

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