This fall, Fordham will offer a new master’s degree in Data Science and Quantitative Economics. 

The interdisciplinary degree will give students computational tools and techniques from the field of data science, as well as economic theory and statistical training from the field of economics.

“Many employers want students who can manage and analyze large data sets,” said Johanna L Francis, Ph.D., chair of the economics department.

While similar to the dual MA/MS program currently offered by the departments of Economics and Computer and Information Sciences, the new degree will be a single M.S. It will be offered by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. 

Meeting Employer Demand

Francis said the degree was created to meet the employer demand for graduates with expertise in Python, a high-level, general-purpose programming language, and R, a programming language for statistical computing and data visualization.

“There’s software that you can use where you don’t need to have much programming experience, but many employers would prefer students who are able to at least code some of their own analysis.”

The degree, which is the first and only program of its kind currently available on the East Coast, will comprise 10 courses from the economics and data science departments, including three electives. Students will also complete a capstone, internship, or thesis.

Francis noted that economics is still a very traditional liberal arts degree that incorporates political science, history, and psychology but has become much more quantitative. 

Data science offers skills that provide students with a much deeper understanding of algorithms, which is why the dual MA/MS Degree in Economics and Data Science program was first developed in 2021. While students who pursue the dual degree gain a deeper understanding of economic theory and computational methods while having the time and expertise to engage in research projects, this new degree combines the two disciplines even more seamlessly.

“This new degree allows students to do the degree in a year and a half, or a calendar year if they do summer courses, and it is much more intense than the dual degree,” she said. 

Gaining a Competitive Edge

Yijun Zhao, Ph.D., associate professor of computer and information science and program director of the M.S. in Data Science program, said data science students will equally benefit from immersing themselves in the field of economics.

“For data science students looking for jobs, one of the major challenges is that they have the technical skills but lack the knowledge or language of a particular field,” she said.

“This degree will help data science students gain the necessary knowledge in economics, giving them a competitive edge.”

Francis said the emergence of AI large language models, or LLMs, has made the degree like even more valuable.

“Economics is a very analytic discipline with a basis in human behavior, and when you combine it with a knowledge of algorithms that are the backbone of LLMs, you give students a very solid background in problem-solving.”

To learn more, visit the program webpage.


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.