New degrees, new centers and more debuted this fall

Information first printed in Pittwire

A variety of new degrees and certificates are being offered at Pitt this fall, and two new centers will offer more opportunities for research.

Computing and data

The School of Computing and Information (SCI) has teams up with two different departments in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences to offer two new degrees.

The Computational Social Sciences (CSS) major is offered by SCI’s Department of Informatics and Networked Systems in partnership with the Department of Political Science in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Students will study society and human behavior through a lens of computational analyses, such as examining if there is racial bias in an algorithm used to manage health outcomes or using smartphone data to address the problem of food scarcity in U.S. cities.

Political science professor Michael Colaresi and information and networks systems professor Prashant Krishnamurthy recognized the need for the major and initiated a cross-departmental collaboration.

“Part of the impetus to design the CSS degree came from students themselves; they were starting to craft double majors. Students were interested in how they could take their qualitative understanding of their communities and put it into research tools,” said political science professor Michael Colaresi who developed the degree with information and networks systems professor Prashant Krishnamurthy. The major is particularly timely during Pitt’s Year of Data and Society.

Bachelor of Science in Data Science also is now being offered by SCI jointly with the Departments of Mathematics and Statistics in the Dietrich School.

Adam Lee, SCI professor and associate dean for academic programs, said ideas for the major span back to the school’s launch in 2017.

“It almost felt like the obvious topic,” Lee said in an article on the SCI website. “We should be doing something in this space. It’s an area where there’s more and more jobs and opportunity — there’s more and more student demand.”

The School of Computing and Information also is offering an accelerated Bachelor + Master of Science in Information Science. All bachelor’s students in SCI can now apply program, which will allow them to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years, or Graduate Certificate in Applied Data Driven Methods.

New centers

The Center for Ethnic Studies Research, located within the University Center for International Studies (UCIS) in Posvar Hall, is directed by associate professor of Africana studies Michele Reid-Vazquez. The mission of the center is to advance rigorous, innovative, multidisciplinary and collaborative research to offer local, regional, national, comparative and transnational perspectives on the histories, experiences and current issues in U.S.-based ethnic communities of color, including Latinxs, Asian Americans, Native Americans and African Americans.

The Center for Materials Data Science for Reliability and Degradation is a joint project of Pitt and Case Western University in Cleveland. The $3 million center is supported by a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation; the remaining funding comes from fees paid by member companies and other organizations, such as government agency labs.

The MDS-Rely Center aims to produce breakthrough research that also benefits the U.S. economy by linking industry innovators, government agency labs and a world-class, multidisciplinary academic team. The center also plans to help prepare skilled workers and provide employment opportunities for Case Western Reserve and Pitt students and graduates. Read more about the project at the Swanson School of Engineering.

Hybrid degrees

The School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences is now offering three degrees in a hybrid format. While many classes moved online or hybrid last year because of the pandemic, the work to create a hybrid option for these degrees began many years before the pandemic.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) hybrid option allows students to take classes online, complete their clinical experiences in or near their home communities and attend hands-on training in Pittsburgh twice a year.

The Master of Rehabilitation Technology (MRT) program is also available online in a hybrid format. Students travel to Pittsburgh for an in-person weekend lab once per term.

The two-year Master of Science Physician Assistant Studies (PAS) hybrid program gives students the opportunity for clinical placements within a network of more than 2,000 health care settings located throughout the country. The PAS-Hybrid program will soon be applying for provisional accreditation.

These new programs mark the third and fourth that the school has launched in collaboration with Noodle, an online learning network. Previously, SHRS worked with Noodle to develop its online Master of Science in Health Informatics and the Doctor of Clinical Science in Occupational Therapy programs.

SHRS also has launched a non-hybrid accelerated Athletic Training Master of Science.

Other new degrees

Students on the Pittsburgh campus can now earn a Master of Education in PreK-12 Special Education. Prospective students are required to have a bachelor’s degree in any area of study.

The School of Social Work is introducing a new 12-month Advanced Standing MSW program. Accepted students can complete their undergrad and graduate degrees in five years.

The College of General Studies in the Dietrich School is debuting the Law, Criminal Justice and Society major, which will examine the workings of the criminal justice system in the broader context of society and the legal system.

The History of Art and Architecture department in the Dietrich School now has a Museum Studies major, which focuses on the collection, preservation, archiving and exhibition of art, historic objects and documents.

A wide variety of certificates also were introduced by the Dietrich School this fall, including Public Communication of Science and TechnologyDigital Studies and MethodsTelevision and Broadcast Arts or Sports Studies.

— Information from Pittwire