Board of Regents approve addition of two new academic programs, disability research center at UI

The state Board of Regents has approved doctorate in criminology and master’s of science in data science programs at the University of Iowa, as well as a disability research center.


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 state Board of Regents approved the addition of two new graduate-level academic programs and a disability research center at the University of Iowa.

A doctorate program in criminology in the UI Graduate College and a Master of Science in data science program in the Graduate College will be added in fall 2022.  A new Hawkeye Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center was also approved by the regents. 

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, the need for a doctorate program in criminology comes after a national demand for doctoral-level criminology programs. The program will be housed in the department of sociology and criminology.

“At present, the department offers a robust track in crime law and social control, but recent years have shown a growing national demand for Ph.D. programs in criminology specifically,” UI Graduate College Dean Amanda Thein said. “A Ph.D. in criminology will also extend the department’s highly successful undergraduate major in Criminology, Law and Justice, which has grown to around 400 [students].”

The program will provide students with comprehensive training in criminological theory, criminology research, research methods, and data analysis, Thein said. The program will also promote advanced understanding of other issues related to criminology including government policy and justice systems. 

“This is a very healthy market, Ph.Ds in criminology are highly competitive for research positions and state government and in public and private sector research organizations,” she said. For many years, criminology Ph.Ds have obtained positions in federal agencies that oversee the nation’s crime indicator data systems.” 

The cost for the addition of this program will be budget neutral, Thein said, and the only expected cost will be for marketing and recruitment needs.

Master of Science in data science

The second program, a Master of Science in data science, will be housed in the department of statistics and actuarial science. The goal of the proposed master’s program is to train data scientists who have the analytic and technical skills to explore, formulate, and solve complex data driven problems in science, industry, business, and government, Thein said.

Like the proposed doctorate in criminology, the need for data science has been increasing nationally as well, Thein said.

“Data science has been one of the fastest growing industries over the past few years and with the ever increasing demand for data, the field is poised to grow for years to come,” she said. 

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

Hawkeye Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center

The final UI component presented to the regents was a new center, the Hawkeye Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. If approved, the center would be housed in the Carver College of Medicine.

As previously reported by the DI, the mission of the center is to provide an organizational structure that fully integrates basic and clinical research across the lifespan that is focused on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and amelioration of intellectual and developmental disabilities. The center will be tailored to an underserved rural population.

The center will focus on research, clinical care, community outreach, and education to enhance outcomes for those in Iowa with disabilities as well as to support their families, said Lois Geist, UI associate provost for faculty.

“Although the University of Iowa has always provided an academic platform for studying disabilities over past decades, no central entity has existed to bring together the researchers on the UI campus,” Geist said. “So [the center] will promote multidisciplinary research by providing networking opportunities among investigators interested in these issues.”

The center will also provide educational opportunities to increase the number of researchers focused on these issues and help connect basic science research with the individuals who would ultimately be served, as well as provide unique opportunities to invite individuals from broad and diverse backgrounds to participate in research studies. 

The center does not have an opening date determined.