UI to propose two new academic programs to the state Board of Regents

The University of Iowa will request approval to add two new programs, a doctorate of philosophy in criminology program in the UI Graduate College and a master’s of science in data science program in the Graduate College.


Gabby Drees

Regent Milt Dakovich looks at his computer at a Board of Regents meeting at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021.

Kate Perez, News Reporter

The University of Iowa will request approval to add two new programs to the university catalog at the state Board of Regents meeting on Wednesday.

The university is looking to add a doctorate program for philosophy in criminology program in the UI Graduate College and a master’s program of science in data science program in the Graduate College.

Rachel Boon, the regents’ chief academic officer, said the process of approving the addition of the two programs is identical to approving a new center. It goes through her first, then it is voted on by the Council of Provosts, and then the Academic Affairs Committee. If it is approved by all three groups, it is then voted on by the regents.

If the regents choose to approve the additional programs, it is then up to the university to choose how to proceed onward.

“It’s approved, then they can just begin their process, however that needs to happen,” Boon said. “It becomes up to the university to implement and manage it on an ongoing basis.”

If approved, the UI will be the first university in Iowa to have a PhD in criminology, as no public or private universities currently offer one in the program.

“All three Regents’ institutions (and several private schools) have very large undergraduate criminal justice majors, yet there is no avenue in our state for pursuing education in criminology at the PhD level,” the proposal states.

The university is requesting the addition of a doctorate in philosophy in criminology after seeing a rise in national demand for doctorate programs in criminology, the proposal states.

“The location of the program within this department allows the program to fill an important niche nationally in graduate training in criminology, by drawing on the strengths and availability of graduate coursework and faculty expertise within sociology, particularly in the study of social stratification, mental health and social psychology,” it states.

The mission of the program will provide students with comprehensive training in criminological theory, criminology research, research methods and data analysis, according to the proposal. Additionally, the program will promote the advanced understanding of substantive issues related to criminology, including government policy and the justice system.

The cost for the addition of this program will be budget neutral, the proposal outlines, and the only expected cost will be for marketing and recruitment needs. This is expected to be $2,250 for the first five years. The university looks to implement the program in the Fall of 2022.

Like the doctorate in criminology, there are no existing graduate master’s of science in data science (MSDS) programs at other colleges and universities in Iowa, states the second request.

“The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University offers a BS degree in data science. The University of Northern Iowa has a BA in physics with a data science emphasis program in the Department of Physics. The proposed MSDS is the only program with an emphasis on statistical modeling and analysis in the state,” according to the request.

The university already has the resources it needs to add the program and will not need new or additional staffing, or any funds, the proposal explains.

“The personnel, facilities, and equipment currently in use for students within our existing graduate programs in the department of statistics and actuarial science, will also support the proposed MSDS, with ability to serve additional students at no extra cost,” it states.

The document cites the growing interest and the data industry as main reasons the UI needs a master’s of science in the data science program.

It explains that there has been an increase in the enrollment of students from many disciplines in two existing data science courses, Statistical Learning and Data Visualization and Data Technologies.

“The sustained interest of students in these courses, both from within and outside of the discipline, suggests that offering the proposed MSDS program will help meet student demand for data science training,” it states. “…with the ever-increasing demand for data, the field is poised to grow for years to come.”

The master’s of science in data science program will also be implemented in the fall of 2022 if approved by the regents on Wednesday.