Opening the Doors to Data Science and Statistics Careers


San Diego State University joined together with six other institutions to start the Pacific Alliance for Low-Income Inclusion in Statistics & Data Science (PALiISaDS) with the goal of diversifying the statistics and data science professions. The program, funded by $5 million from the National Science Foundation, will provide $10,000 scholarships for students for up to three years as they prepare for and transition into graduate school in data science fields.

In addition to financial assistance, scholars in the program will receive extensive mentoring from faculty members and current graduate students to help them chart their path to a lucrative career as a data scientist. Careers in this field increasingly require master's or doctoral degrees, which are often prohibitively expensive for low-income students to pursue.

"PALiISaDS will help address a crucial limitation for students in statistics and data science: unmet financial need. In addition, the new program will offer practical mentorship to help students successfully complete their undergraduate degrees and transition to graduate opportunities," said Henry Scharf, an assistant professor of statistics and data science and co-director of PALiISaDS at SDSU. 

Students will be able to network with peers, graduate students, and faculty from University of Washington, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and three other California State University campuses during PALiISaDS conferences and workshops. These extensive regional connections will be especially valuable for scholars when they start searching for data scientist jobs.

"Financial need is an intimidating barrier to higher education. While federal aid reduces this burden, student loans are often still necessary to sustain a minimal standard of living. In particular, these circumstances disproportionately affect underrepresented groups," said Kyle Hasenstab, co-director of the new program and an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

"PALiISaDS mitigates this financial burden while creating a bridge for students to pursue undergraduate and graduate educations in data science and related STEM fields through peer support and faculty mentorship," Hasenstab added.

Applications for the first cohort of students at San Diego State University are open and due March 24th, 2023.

Flier for PALiISADS program