Darden, Data Science Institute Unveil New Dual-Degree Program

Darden school entrance

As “big data” plays a growing role in business decisions around the world, graduates who combine solid business strategy with an in-depth knowledge of computer science, statistics and analytics will be uniquely positioned to make an impact.

That’s the premise of a new University of Virginia dual-degree program announced Monday, a joint venture from its Darden School of Business and its Data Science Institute.

The new MBA/Master of Science in Data Science aims to provide the robust training and cutting-edge tools ideal for students who plan to pursue a variety of career fields, from technology to entrepreneurship to consulting.

By combining Darden’s top-ranked general management program and unparalleled education experience with the cutting-edge, data-intensive curriculum of UVA’s Data Science Institute, students will gain broad understanding of business leadership opportunities and challenges. They will also develop a deep knowledge of data science tools that can turn data into action-oriented business insights. 

“This new dual degree represents an incredibly exciting development for the Darden School and prospective students,” said Darden professor Raj Venkatesan, who will lead the program for Darden. “There is a clear demand from students for this kind of analytics-driven curriculum and from organizations for employees who can harness the almost limitless power of ‘big data’ to develop new business models. These graduates will be coveted hires and become indispensable leaders.”

The new dual degree – which will enroll a limited cohort of students this summer, with a fuller launch in 2018 – will deliver both the Darden curriculum of core and elective courses and the 11-month master’s curriculum offered by the Data Science Institute over a two-year span. Tuition for the new program will be the sum of the stand-alone MBA and data science programs.

The Darden core curriculum provides students with an integrated perspective on general management in the first year, focusing on key themes such as finance, marketing, decision analytics, strategy, ethics, accounting and leadership. Beginning in the final term of the first year, students choose from a diverse selection of more than 100 electives and begin to tailor the Darden education that most closely meets their interests and professional aspirations.

Since its launch in 2013, UVA’s Data Science Institute has used data analytics to pursue solutions to a wide range of social problems, including climate change, sexual violence, suicide risk, crime and more. The institute has also developed a partnership with IBM to create new data science curricula, giving students access to cutting-edge data science and analytics technology, case studies and guest lecturers.

In the new dual-degree program, the data science curriculum, with core courses in computer science, statistics, and systems and information engineering, will provide students of all backgrounds with a base in languages, computation and linear modeling before building on those skills to move to the practice and application of data science. The program also addresses the ethical implications of data and analytics and culminates in a capstone project focused on a real-world data science problem. In the dual-degree program, the capstone project will address a business problem and how data science can be used to address those challenges.

“This new program will change the way that top business leaders of tomorrow are thinking about data,” said Don Brown, director of the Data Science Institute. “This game-changing dual degree will give students a deep understanding of data science along with a top-ranked management program that will allow them to unlock new ways of questioning, answering and thinking about today’s top business challenges.”

The new dual degree is one of many offered at Darden, which currently offers dual degrees with UVA partners in the fields of law, medicine, nursing, education, engineering, public policy, public health, government and foreign affairs, and East Asian studies. “Darden dual degrees show the power of collaboration at UVA,” Darden Dean Scott Beardsley said. “The new Data Science partnership shows that Darden and UVA are committed to coming together to provide the best and most relevant education opportunities for students.”

“Students from all backgrounds want to be equipped for jobs in technology and entrepreneurship,” said Sara Neher, Darden assistant dean for MBA admissions. “This new dual degree will be a way to differentiate yourself.”

For information on Darden’s dual-degree programs or to learn about applying, contact darden@virginia.edu.

Media Contact

Sophie Zunz

Darden School of Business