14:04 PM

UST to Offer New Master's Degrees

Two men looking at industrial plant pipesRecently, University of St. Thomas launched the Celt Innovation Committee to provide an opportunity for faculty and staff to apply for seed money to create innovative program/project start-ups or development that open and expand opportunities for the University to serve students/learners in and beyond the Greater Houston Metro Area.

”The UST Celt Innovation Committee was extremely encouraged by how many faculty and staff participated in the process and by the many excellent proposals and presentations,” Vice President for Academic Affairs Chris Evans said. “The Committee heard pitches that were about more than just generating revenue, they were about serving our students and ushering the UST mission into the next century.

A university-wide review of student support services is currently underway in order to discover how we can implement these proposals under existing structures,” Evans said.

The winning proposals include two new master’s degrees.

Master of Science in Applied Data Science

Dr. Jack Follis and Dr. John Starner of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science proposed a Master of Science in Applied Data Science to help meet the demand for data scientists. The new graduate degree program will begin in fall 2019.

Data Scientists are in Demand, Paid High Salaries

Data scientists are in demand in every industry and every scale of enterprise from garage-based, one-person companies to the very large conglomerate industries. Many companies are seeking to add data science skills to their payrolls. The Glassdoor job search company states that there are over 15,000 data science positions with salaries reaching up to $100,000. In addition, there are many persons in existing positions who could bring considerable value to their enterprises and themselves if they were to gain data science skills.

Program Highlights Practical Work with Real Data, Practicum Experiences

The MS in Applied Data Science is a 30-credit-hour program that contains a significant emphasis on practical work with real data.

“The program is designed for the professional who is responsible for data and needs the skills to extract value from this data and for individuals interested in developing data science skills in order to seek employment as a data scientist,” Follis said. “Those with limited technical skills will develop the necessary skills for working with data.”

Practicum experiences will allow students to study real world data in a production environment.

Program Emphasizes Ethics of Data, Fits UST Mission

“The MS in Applied Data Science program reflects UST’s mission in that it is a high quality academic program designed to serve the needs of the community of Houston,” Starner said. “Further, the program emphasizes the ethical and socially responsible analysis of data.”

Master of Science in Industrial and Process Chemistry

University of St. Thomas will offer a dynamic two-year professional science master’s (PSM) program that provides rigorous graduate study and preparation for a career in the chemical processing industry. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry will offer this PSM degree in the fall 2019.

Petrochemical Industry Projects a Million Job Opportunities

Accounting for just under 15 percent of the nation’s refining capacity and about 40 percent of the nation’s base petrochemical production capacity, the chemical and petrochemical industries are critical to the economy of the Houston metropolitan area and to the economy of the nation as a whole.

With a projection of over a million direct job opportunities nationwide in the oil and gas, chemical, and petrochemical industries within the next seven years, University of St. Thomas’ Chemistry and Biochemistry Department Professors John Palasota and Elmer Ledesma proposed that UST is poised to offer a PSM. UST will tap into this source of potential students, especially those who wish to advance their careers and find employment in these industries.

Highlights of the 36-credit hour Degree Program

  • Receive a professional master’s degree in two years
  • Gain practical understanding of relevant chemical engineering and industrial chemistry
  • Develop high-valued business and management skills
  • Flexibility of taking MBA courses within the PSM program
  • Courses offered evenings and weekends
  • Full time or part time

Technical Coursework Combines with Business Classes

“This degree is a collaboration with Cameron School of Business,” Ledesma said. “The coursework includes technical content and business content. Students will take five classes from the MBA program.”

Faculty from the School of Arts and Sciences and Cameron School of Business, and professionals in the oil and gas, chemical and petrochemical industries will teach the courses.

Diverse External Advisory Board Formed

This program will have an external advisory board of 20 diverse members who are currently working or have worked in the petrochemical, chemical and oil & gas industries.

“The role of the board is to review curriculum, be capstone project/internship advisors, act as student mentors, co-teach courses or be guest speakers,” Ledesma said.

This program is in affiliation with the National Professional Master’s Association. Dr. Elmer Ledesma will serve as the program director.



The University of St. Thomas is Houston’s Catholic University. For more than 70 years, UST has graduated students into successful careers in medicine, education, business, public administration and more. As Houston grows, UST will continue to provide the strong leaders and skilled workers needed to meet those demands.