New Degrees Match Marketplace Demand

August 12, 2021
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From deciphering troves of big data to exploring the complexities of the brain, new undergraduate degrees in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences seek to prepare students for in-demand expertise in burgeoning professions. These recently-launched programs offer students the opportunity to acquire a strong academic foundation while mastering practical skills in data science, the cognitive science of language, psychological and brain sciences and photojournalism.

“We are pleased that CCAS is expanding course major offerings for students. Each of these degrees provides students the rigorous and innovative educational opportunities that are central to a liberal arts education, and widens opportunities for our students,” said Rachel Riedner, associate dean of undergraduate studies. “We look forward to learning about the accomplishments of students in our new majors!"

BS in Data Science

Students in classroom using computers


Nearly every profession relies on data to succeed. And with the huge quantities of digital information collected and exchanged in today’s marketplace, the demand for trained data scientists is higher than ever—in fields from government and technology to journalism and scientific research.

The new Bachelor of Science in Data Science guides students through essential concepts such as data warehousing and data mining and visualization while also exploring ethical perspectives and real-world policies. Students combine core courses in handling and understanding “big data” with concentrations that apply digital knowledge and skills to astronomy and astrophysics; biology; data journalism; geospatial data science; mathematical modeling; and physics.

“Data science is an exploding field,” said Ryan Engstrom, director of the Data Science Program and associate professor in geography. “Many professions deal with datasets that are too big to see in a normal way. Our program equips students to understand and interpret data and then relate it to people in a way they can understand.”

BS in Cognitive Science of Language

Students in classroom


Language is not just talking and hearing. It requires understanding why people say the things they do while also making ourselves understandable to others. The Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Science of Language, a new degree program in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, immerses students in the interplay between language and the psychological/brain processes supporting it. The program examines how we acquire, perceive and produce linguistic and non-verbal forms of communication—knowledge that can be applied to such varied issues as social media habits and communication and language impairments.

The degree prepares students for clinical careers in fields like speech-language pathology, public health and medicine as well as a growing number of industries, including social media, cyber-security and artificial intelligence.

BS in Psychological and Brain Sciences

Students in classroom


Bridging a strong foundation in psychology with a rigorous STEM curriculum, the Bachelor of Science in Psychological and Brain Sciences  offers an integrated approach that emphasizes the convergence between subfields within psychological and brain sciences. It is grounded in the fundamental theories, methods and results of clinical and social psychology, cognitive neuroscience and the study of complex behavior. At the same time, it incorporates science, math and biology studies. Through courses on topics such as statistics, calculus, cell and molecular biology and computing, the degree presents students with expanded academic and professional options, preparing them for various STEM-related careers.

BA with Major in Fine Arts, Photojournalism Concentration

Student looking at photos

Photo: Denny Henry

With photojournalists finding creative new ways to tell stories about our world, the Bachelor of Arts with a major in Fine Arts, Photojournalism concentration, is a new degree within Columbian College’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. It serves as a multidisciplinary training ground for the next generation of visual reporters and documentarians. The program immerses students in both traditions of photojournalism and the studio arts. Students develop visual and reporting voices through in-depth multimedia classes taken in tandem with courses offered by the School of Media and Public Affairs. The program’s curriculum stresses the importance of individual creativity and emphasizes the legal, ethical and economic challenges to the profession in today’s media market.