EAPS to Offer Professional Master’s Degree Concentration in Geodata Science - Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences - Purdue University Skip to main content

EAPS to Offer Professional Master’s Degree Concentration in Geodata Science


Writer(s): Logan Judy

EAPS is providing a new path to a geoscience career with a Professional Master’s degree concentration in Geodata Science.

The program is a non-thesis degree option allowing students to specialize in data analysis in the geosciences, while also gaining exposure to industrial applications during their time as students.  Applicants are required to have a Bachelor’s degree in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering, and math), and a strong quantitative background.

Dr. Wen-wen Tung, who specializes in data science and tropical meteorology, said the addition of a specialized Master’s degree will give students an advantage in the job market.

“This will give our alumni an edge in employment and research, as well as advanced degrees,” Dr. Tung said.

The geoscience fields are projected to grow by 14% over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  However, the nature of those jobs is changing.  There are fewer government research jobs, and career opportunities in the private sector are increasingly reliant on data analysis skills.  Technology has changed the landscape of the field, requiring Geodata analysts to get the most out of large amounts of data.  The significance of data science across scientific disciplines has led Purdue to launch an integrative Data Science initiative, driven by interdisciplinary collaborations.  The interdisciplinary applications of data science reach a broad range of disciplines related to EAPS, including Earth science.

Dr. Robert Nowack, who specializes in seismology and applied geophysics, said many companies in the Earth sciences need to process, visualize and interpret large amounts of data.  Much like in the atmospheric sciences, companies are seeking to apply new concepts in data science, even if for different applications.

“A student has to be more competitive now to get positions, and this means more technical skills,” Dr. Nowack said.  “It turns out that seismologists at the Livermore National Laboratory, for example, are teaming up with scientists at Google to use new algorithms in data science to search for small underground nuclear tests, and also to hunt for small induced earthquakes in hydrofracking zones."

While some other universities offer professional Master’s degrees for specific fields such as GIS (Geographic Information System), market analysis conducted during the program’s formation found no other Geodata science professional Master’s programs in the United States.  The special focus of Geodata Science on data analysis will allow students to explore career possibilities in a wide range of areas, including environmental science, climatology, wind energy, weather forecasting and risk assessment, and the exploration for minerals and fossil fuels.

Students will begin enrolling in the program in Fall 2018.

GDSP program contact: Dr. Wen-wen Tung (wwtung@purdue.edu

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