Master of Science in Public Health Data Science program will train a new generation to make sense of big health data

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The Department of Population and Public Health Sciences at Keck School of Medicine of USC is set to launch a new Master of Science in Public Health Data Science in fall 2020.

An integration of biostatistics and computer science, the program is a response to the increasingly massive amount of health-related data collected by companies via wearable trackers, smartphones and other devices, and a shortage of trained individuals to manage and interpret data at scale. “The tech industry is booming, and the healthcare industry is booming,” says program director Meredith Franklin, PhD, “These industries have a huge amount of data, and there is a severe lack of people in the workforce that know how to tackle these large and complex data sets.”

Franklin hopes to both fill that void and give her students an advantage as they want to launch careers in data science. The year-and-a-half-long curriculum includes courses at both the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences and Viterbi School of Engineering, and emphasizes the practical skills needed to work in the fields of data analysis or health data science. Near the end of the program, students participate in a semester-long practicum – an opportunity to work with an industry or organizational partner and analyze real-world data.

When it comes to career outlook, Franklin knows her graduates will be in-demand in a variety of settings; “There are many career opportunities out there now,” says Franklin, “Hospitals collect hundreds of thousands of records on patients, healthcare startups gather by-the-minute data from wearables… Even companies like Google are examining health data or health-related type data.” Employment opportunities in the health data science field exist at biotech and technology companies, healthcare organizations and hospitals among others, and demand is expected to continue to increase as technology evolves.

— by Carolyn Barnes

Founded in 1977, the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences at Keck School of Medicine of USC offers education programs and conducts research in a wide variety of areas within the public health sciences. The MS in Public Health Data Science program is currently accepting applications. For more information, visit healthdatascienceprogram.usc.edu.