New initiatives for the Information Systems and Data Science programs 

Poster with writing: "information science, generative AI, and CUNY Inclusive Economy"

The Information Systems and Data Science programs at CUNY SPS have some exciting upgrades. Dr. Arthur O’Connor, the academic advisor for both majors, stated in a recent interview, “One of the biggest challenges is keeping the two programs up to date… constantly changing the course material, just trying to stay on top of things with a fairly large program.” 

Dr. O’Connor dove into how he and his team plan to address these challenges and implement new changes for both programs in the coming school year.

“Information Systems” to “Information Science”

One of the major changes will be the switch from the BS in Information Systems to a BS in Information Science. “In the next year or so, we’re going to completely transform the undergrad program into a BS in data, in information science,” Dr. O’Connor explained.

This transformation from Information Systems to Information Science entails a broader degree that takes a more “holistic look at information, who needs it, who consumes it, and how it’s consumed,” according to Dr. O’Connor.

Following the transition, CUNY SPS would be one of the few schools to offer this undergrad degree, among universities like Columbia, Northwestern, and University of Michigan.

This new degree program would also create a pathway for Information Science undergrads to advance to the MS in Data Science program at CUNY SPS. 

New Generative AI course 

The MS in Data Science program also has its own changes coming to its curriculum. During the  Fall 2023 semester, the Curriculum Committee approved the creation of DATA 623 Generative AI, which will cover topics from Large Language Models, Foundation Models, Multi-Modal Models, to Prompt Engineering and Responsive/Ethical AI. Students can expect the course to be offered at CUNY SPS by Fall 2024.

Dr. O’Connor added that he believes Generative AI is a critical skill set, saying, “[AI] has a massive impact on just about everything, particularly the employment market—it’s an incredibly productive tool.”

The Bridge Tutorial

On top of the Generative AI course being added, the Data Science program also recently launched The Bridge Tutorial, a platform to support “conditionally accepted” students. 

Among other requirements for enrollment into the Data Science program, prospective students must complete and pass a challenge exam that will challenge their current knowledge and skills. 

The Bridge Tutorial is a self-paced course that aims to support those students who scored well enough on the challenge exam to show they have the potential to qualify. The site offers learning aids, videos, and quizzes to help students brush up on technical competencies for the program. 

CUNY Inclusive Economy Initiative

Lastly, Dr. O’Connor highlighted the CUNY Inclusive Economy Initiative, a program launched last semester to support students in these programs with their careers. This program, funded by CUNY Central, aims to connect students with industry opportunities. While in transition after the departure of student advisor Michael Gilbert last semester, the initiative continues to help students find internships, promotions, and job opportunities through Altin Halilaj, the industry advisor. 

For any student who needs help or has any questions regarding these initiatives, Dr. O’Connor encourages them to reach out to him or Halilaj via email. 

Overall, students can expect significant changes to the Information Systems and Data Science programs in the coming months and years. These adjustments aim to support students, improve both programs, and ensure they remain aligned with the latest industry trends.

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