Yale Daily News

Students from the Class of 2020 and beyond may pursue a certificate in Statistics and Data Science, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun announced in an email on Jan. 11.

According to the email, the certificate will appear on enrolled students’ transcripts and is designed to encourage the use of data analysis, acknowledge excellence in the area beyond the minimum quantitative reasoning requirement and highlight data science as an elective concentration. The certificate consists of six courses, including a prerequisite.

“The goal of the certificate is to provide training to students in *all* majors at Yale in the tools of Data Science,” Acting Chair of Statistics & Data Science Daniel Spielman told the News in an email. “Students who complete the certificate should be prepared to engage in data analysis in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences and Engineering. For example, these students should be able to take on quantitative and data intensive senior projects in these disciplines, and they should be able to help researchers in these disciplines manage and investigate their data.”

The Department of Statistics and Data Science proposed the certificate, which was then approved by the Committee on Majors and the Yale College faculty. The certificate is modeled after the advanced language certificate — a certificate awarded to students who complete at least four advanced-level or L5 classes approved by the faculty last year, Chun said.

The introduction of the data science certificate comes only two months after Chun told the News that the Yale College Committee on Majors is currently considering whether to introduce minors and is weighing regulations for the potential curricula. He said that the committee will reach a decision by the end of the academic year.

Students also overwhelmingly expressed support for minors in the 2018 Yale College Council Fall Survey. Of the respondents, 84 percent either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “If minors were offered at Yale, I would want to have a minor,” according to YCC Vice President Heidi Dong ’20.

Spielman added that the certificate will provide students with a credential that “faculty will respect” and also help guide students in their selection of courses.

Chun echoed this sentiment, noting that for students who will not major in statistics and data science, the requirements of the certificate provide “useful guidance” on which fundamental and advanced courses to take.

Spielman said that he expects the new certificate will increase enrollment in classes within the Statistics and Data Science department. He added that the department will offer more courses, which will likely act as a counterbalance to the increased enrollment. Chun’s email noted that at least five new courses will be introducing next semester within the certificate.

“One benefit of the certificate is to take pressure away from double-majoring, which usually reduces a student’s ability to freely take a broad range of courses across the curriculum,” Chun told the News.

Alex Cohen ’21, a math major, expressed enthusiasm about the certificate and the potential for certificates from more departments. Cohen said that certificates can be a useful way for Yale students to demonstrate their skills without committing to a major.

Chun said that he is not aware of any other departments working to propose other certificates.

According to Chun, more information about the certificate will be available on Canvas this week.

Jever Mariwala | jever.mariwala@yale.edu