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Health data science degree approved by IU Board of Trustees

The Indiana University Board of Trustees has approved a new health-related degree -- the first Bachelor of Science degree in the United States in health data science.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Students will have the option to earn a minor in computer science from the Department of Computer and Information Science.

The Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will offer the health data science degree in partnership with the School of Science's Department of Computer and Information Science and the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI.

Data science is a burgeoning interdisciplinary field requiring a diverse set of skills to extract knowledge and insights from data.

With the number of job listings for qualified data scientists skyrocketing over 2,000 percent in the past four years, the degree responds to regional and national needs, said Paul Halverson, founding dean of the Fairbanks School of Public Health. Health data scientists will be at the center of an estimated $300 billion value added to the American health care sector annually by big data and data analytics.

In addition to its focus on health, and the deep analytical skills obtained through a comprehensive core curriculum offered by the Department of Biostatistics at the Fairbanks School of Public Health, a unique characteristic of the proposed program is the availability of a computer science track, in which students will receive either a minor in computer science from the Department of Computer and Information Science, or an informatics track, culminating in a minor in informatics from the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI.

Melding biostatistics with computer science and informatics within an undergraduate health data science curriculum is novel, making the proposed degree unique both nationally and internationally, Halverson said.

The degree awaits final approval by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.