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Data Science

Data Science

Program Description

Data Science is a multi-disciplinary field that focuses on the application of data-driven techniques to improve processes and/or identify patterns and recommend solutions for defense challenges. The scope of data science is holistic; it leverages the expertise developed via theoretical and practical studies in other disciplines to derive practical techniques to design, access and manage data sets (e.g., information systems and databases); the efficiently manipulate data (e.g., computer science); examine patterns and relationships among data (e.g., operations research, computer science, statistics); develop descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and predictive analytic models (e.g., operations research); develop and field applications to automate the use of data science techniques (e.g., computer science); and manage the deployment of such applications.

The purpose of the program is to educate students in the theory and practice of data science, with emphasis on the application of data analytic techniques to defense decision-making. Specific topics of study include optimization, statistical analysis, computer programing, database design and management, and data visualization. Graduates will be well prepared to fill a variety of key positions in implementing process improvements or in support of decision-making and policy formulation.

The in-residence program requires 18 months (6 academic quarters) of full-time study and begins in August of each year; however, part-time study is also possible.

Admissions Requirements

Degree Required: Baccalaureate degree in operations research, mathematics (not math education), engineering, physics, computer science, or other quantitative disciplines, provided in each case that curriculum includes sufficient mathematics as noted below.

Mathematics Required: Calculus I & II (differential and integral calculus). Strongly preferable but not required: Students should be proficient at computer programming. A minimum proficiency would be completion of one-semester undergraduate programming course or equivalent experience. Desired proficiency is understanding of structured programming and ability to code in at least two computer programming languages.

Test Required: GRE - 153V/148Q (within the last five years)

GPA Required: Overall - 3.0; Math - 3.0

Waivers to the above criteria may be granted on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, individuals whose academic credentials fall below any of the above criteria are encouraged to apply.

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Outcomes & Objectives

Program Education Objectives (PEOs)

  • Breadth. Apply foundational data science techniques to effectively advance Air Force, DoD, and other government inter-agency organizations, as well as other employer capabilities.

  • Depth. Are well educated, highly-valued, and successful data scientists.

  • Teamwork. Significantly contribute to technical interdisciplinary team projects.

  • Professionalism. Professionally communicate technical analytical assessments, solutions, and results.

  • Lifelong Learning. Continue to pursue lifelong multidisciplinary learning.

Student Outcomes (SOs)

  • Critical Thinking Skills. Can critically analyze situations, information, and data.

  • Problem Solving Skills. Can formulate problem statements, ascertain and collect the relevant data, and utilize the correct methodology to solve problems in the real world in the data science area.

  • Communication Skills. Develop written and oral communications skills necessary to present complex problems to a decision-making audience: problem definition, modeling methodologies, including solution advocacy that utilizes rigorous analytical support.

  • Data Science Expertise. Have knowledge of data science areas such as databases, machine learning, big data, operations research, computer science, programming, cloud computing, data visualization, and statistics to analyze, design, develop, and employ data-driven applications and support decisions on policies.

Program Chair

Dr. Mark A. Gallagher

Degree Information

Degree Type: Master's


Delivery Method: In-Residence


Degree Requirements

  • Core Coursework (24 hours)
  • Mathematics (8 hours)
  • Electives (4 hours)
  • Thesis (12 hours)

Graduate School Catalog
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Air Force Institute of Technology
2950 Hobson Way
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH 45433-7765
Commercial: 937-255-6565 | DSN: 785-6565