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Career Landscape

William & Mary students attend with an eye toward successful future careers in Computer Science, Data Science, Applied Science and Physics. In the past decade, W&M has witnessed a 39% increase in applicant interest in these fields. There are good reasons for student optimism; regional, state and national jobs trends reinforce students' belief that rewarding and meaningful careers await them. Information security analysts, software developers and data scientists are all ranked among the top jobs in the nation in terms of pay and demand, according to a 2023 U.S. News & World Report study. This is mirrored in student enrollment trends, with computer and information sciences growing at the fastest pace among all majors in the past four years.

William & Mary ranks #16 among public institutions for top-paying jobs in tech.
— Wall Street Journal
Workforce for the Future
Data Science

As big data and technology industries experience skyrocketing growth, data science jobs are increasing. Graduates have found full employment in a nearly every industry, including healthcare, retail and technology, with a special concentration of growth in northern Virginia. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 35% growth in data science jobs in the next decade, characterized as "much faster than average." On average, about 17,700 openings for data scientists are projected each year in that time, with the highest concentrations in the D.C. metro area, California, New York, Texas and Florida.

A portrait of a woman with colored lights depicting binary code cast on her face and the background.Computer Science

Computer science experts are in demand nationally in the public sector, in corporations of all sizes, in nonprofits and in higher education. Driving this growing demand is the need for professionals in information security, cloud computing and big data collection and analysis. As firms increasingly expand to digital platforms, professionals with computer science and information systems degrees implement their goals to great success, which then creates additional demand for graduates coming behind them. In computer and IT Jobs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 22% growth in the next decade, which it characterizes as "much faster than average." An average 3,400 openings for computer and information research scientists are project each year in the same time, concentrated most highly in Virginia, California, Florida, Texas and Maryland.

Applied Science and Physics

Currently, Applied Science at William & Mary is an interdisciplinary graduate department focusing on doctoral (and some master's) degrees, as well as an undergraduate minor. Faculty members hail from across the sciences, with expertise in high-demand areas such as biophysical chemistry, computational biology, neuroscience, robotics, laser spectroscopy, geospatial analysis, imaging and more. Students also have the opportunity to partner with faculty from Jefferson Lab, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and NASA Langley.

"Wicked problems — eliminating inequality, poverty, and violent conflict, or sustaining democracy itself — don’t map onto simple algorithms. Coming technology, like quantum information systems, will help develop data methods to accurately predict them farther out in time, and to find the solutions we know we need."

— Dennis Manos, CSX Professor of Applied Science and Physics and Vice Provost for Research

Major employers for physics graduates include research and testing services, the federal government and education. Physics students are well positioned to benefit from market trends in computer and data science. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 5% increase in physicist jobs in the next decade, averaging about 1,500 openings each year, growth characterized as "faster than average." The highest concentrations are in California, Illinois, Maryland, Colorado and New York.

W&M physics majors also pursue careers in engineering and tech, often benefiting from the Engineering Physics and Applied Design track. Roughly half of W&M physics graduates accept jobs in technical positions (ranging from web developers and systems engineers to business technology and financial analysts), marking the W&M physics experience as much broader than traditional programs.

Regional Trends

The new school promises to benefit from exciting developments in the Commonwealth. In October 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy selected Jefferson Lab as the lead for its new High Performance Data Facility. This $300 million-$500 million effort expands JLab's mission in a way that aligns with the new school and creates opportunities for William & Mary students and faculty alike. New school units already collaborate with JLab, with physics in the lead. The evolution and growth of JLab's portfolio will allow W&M to build on this long-established relationship.

Additionally, an ongoing study for the Commonwealth conducted by SRI International (primarily through its Center for Innovation Strategy and Policy) has recommended the establishment of a data science-focused collaborative across universities in Hampton Roads. Substantial funding is likely to support this effort in the years to come, bolstering the region as an economic powerhouse for the units the new school will house.