Northeastern launches nation’s first doctoral program in network science

Network Science

This fall, North­eastern will begin offering the nation’s first inter­dis­ci­pli­nary doc­toral pro­gram in net­work sci­ence, an emerging field that researches the under­lying com­plexity that gov­erns all systems—be they com­prised of atoms in a mol­e­cule or people using social media to com­mu­ni­cate across the globe.

“As the first uni­ver­sity in the nation to offer this degree, our world-​​leading research pro­gram in net­work sci­ence will allow us to train the next gen­er­a­tion of leaders in this increas­ingly impor­tant field,” said Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs.

North­eastern will begin recruiting the doc­toral program’s first class of stu­dents this fall. The pro­gram will be housed in and over­seen by the Col­lege of Sci­ence and will be offered through a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort with sev­eral other North­eastern col­leges including the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences, the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence, and the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties.

“Most dis­ci­plines, from physics to soci­ology and health sci­ences, are con­fronted from com­plex net­works,” said Albert-​​László Barabási, Dis­tin­guished Uni­ver­sity Pro­fessor at North­eastern, where he directs the Center for Com­plex Net­work Research and holds appoint­ments in the Depart­ment of Physics and Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence. “This new PhD pro­gram is not only about fur­thering the dis­ci­pline of net­work sci­ence. It is also about training experts, who can enrich their respec­tive dis­ci­pline, helping their col­leagues to deal with the com­plex sys­tems they need to con­front. It is a pio­neering pro­gram that truly embodies inter­dis­ci­pli­nary thinking.”

Alessandro Vespig­nani is one of the program’s leading fac­ulty mem­bers and is the Stern­berg Family Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor, holding joint appoint­ments in the Col­lege of Sci­ence, the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ences, and the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences. He explained that until now, “existing pro­grams and orga­ni­za­tions only indi­rectly train stu­dents in net­work sci­ence. Stu­dents may be involved in research projects using the tools of net­work sci­ence, but they are not being for­mally trained in aca­d­emic pro­grams focused on it.”