School of Engineering to launch 2 online graduate programs in data science, computer science

The Science and Engineering Complex is pictured on Sept. 18, 2019. Sophia Elia / The Tufts Daily Archives

The Tufts School of Engineering will launch an online Master of Science in Data Science program and an online Postbaccalaureate in Computer Science program in September 2021 to meet the growing demand for coding skills and offer a flexible way for working professionals and students to advance their careers in data science and computer science. 

The School of Engineering collaborated with Noodle Partners, an online program management company, to develop the new programs and course material.

The announcement of the new programs follows the launch of an online Master of Science in Computer Science program last fall, which was also developed by the School of Engineering and Noodle Partners.

Dean of the School of Engineering Jianmin Qu explained that the Master of Science in Data Science program will support students hoping to enter the data science industry.

“We strive to develop programs that meet the needs of emerging technology and advancing society. Data Science is currently one of the fastest growing programs in the country, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor reports that the demand for data-science skills will drive an increase of more than 25% in employment in the field through 2026,” Qu wrote in an email to the Daily.

Martin Allen, associate teaching professor in computer science and director of online programs, added that data science skills are valuable in every industry and that the new online master’s programs will be useful for students of any field.

“Data science is something that every field, every area, every industry is increasingly drawing on, whether they call it data science or machine learning,” Allen said.

Qu noted that the computer science program will similarly provide opportunities for students hoping to build their computer science skills. 

“In addition to a positive employment outlook for Data Science graduates, Computer Science careers continue on an upward trajectory, so offering the Post-Bac in Computer Science, which can connect directly to [the School of Engineering’s] online [Master of Science in Computer Science] program, will enable professionals to learn new skills that better fit into their career aspirations,” Qu said.

Allen expanded on what the program will offer students.

“The post-bac, in particular, it does serve as a standalone certificate, so it’s a very lightweight, less than a master’s degree, way to add some extra CS skills to your resume,” Allen said.

Qu also emphasized the importance of flexibility in offering these new online programs.

“Working professionals are often trying to balance a career, family life and other responsibilities, which can make a traditional learning format challenging. Adding a convenient and more flexible way to learn will provide an accessible option for them to continue their education,” Qu said.

Allen remarked that many in the first cohort of Tufts’ online Master of Science in Computer Science program are students looking to change their career trajectories.

“With the online students, we’re seeing a lot of people who want to change careers or advance in a different direction in their career,” Allen said. “We have a few people who are students who graduated, and it’s more convenient, because maybe they’re working already, to do a part-time degree.”

The new programs also serve to complement the on-campus School of Engineering programs in data science and computer science, according to Allen.

Qu commented on the School of Engineering’s partnership with Noodle Partners, recognizing the importance of Noodle’s support in developing the programs.

“Noodle has a flexible business model that allowed the CS faculty to run the program as they saw best for their students without restrictions,” Qu said. “So far the faculty have been very happy with the support they have received from Noodle, so it made sense to select them for these additional programs.”

Lee Bradshaw, chief strategy officer at Noodle Partners, explained the role of Noodle as a supportive partner to Tufts.

“Tufts delivers a rigorous academic experience with really incredible faculty, and we do the behind-the-scenes work to keep the program running smoothly for students and faculty,” Bradshaw wrote in an email to the Daily.

Noodle also assists the School of Engineering and the Tufts Office of Graduate Admissions throughout the student recruitment process, according to Bradshaw.

“The goal is to provide a seamless Tufts experience to all prospective students throughout the application process that is consistent with the mission and core values of Tufts University and the School of Engineering,” Bradshaw said.