About the School of Data Science and Analytics

Sherry Ni

Welcome to the School of Data Science and Analytics at Kennesaw State! The School of Data Science and Analytics (SDSA) is a “one-stop shop” for education and research. We achieve this by offering a “full-stack” of academic programs including general education courses, an undergraduate major and minor, online certificates, a masters degree, and the first PhD in Data Science and Analytics in the US.

Please feel free to reach out to me or any of our faculty and staff with questions about the School, research, teaching, or opportunities to learn and partner with us.

Best regards,
Sherry Ni, PhD
Director, School of Data Science and Analytics
and Professor of Data Science and Statistics

The History of Data Science and Analytics at Kennesaw State University

The School of Data Science and Analytics is the culmination of 15 years of innovative applied research, and career-focused instruction from an interdisciplinary faculty dedicated to educating the next generation of analytics and data science professionals and thought leaders.

The Beginning…
The story of the School of Data Science and Analytics at Kennesaw State University begins in the Department of Mathematics in 2004-2005.  At that time, a small group of faculty had all come to the Department of Mathematics after having worked at companies including AT&T Bell Labs, Children’s Healthcare of Cincinnati, LexisNexis, MasterCard, VISA EU, Accenture, and Ford.  Independently, each of those faculty members was bringing their practical work experiences using data to solve problems into the classroom.  As those faculty started meeting informally, they recognized that they shared a vision – they recognized the importance of teaching students using real data and translating data into information to solve problems.  This group of faculty members held PhDs in Psychometrics, Physics, Engineering, Operations Research, Decision Sciences and Epidemiology.  We would frequently joke that within the Department of Mathematics we were the “octopi in the fish tank”.  We officially made Lewis VanBrackle – our most senior faculty member – our unofficial leader.

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Here’s a brief rundown of some recent accomplishments over the past year.

  • We were approved to offer a Bachelor of Science in Data Science and Analytics beginning in Fall 2023! This was a year-long effort on behalf of the faculty and many of our partners around the university.
  • We changed the names of all of our programs and the Center to reflect the name of the school, so now the Minor, MS, and PhD are all in Data Science and Analytics.
  • Enrollments in our general education and service courses remained strong in 2022-23, and were up over 21% since our founding in AY ‘20-21:
    •  STAT 1401 - 5,294
    • DATA 1501 - 734 (+410 since 21-22)
    • STAT 2332 – 1,429
    • STAT 3125 – 501
  • We held two of our largest and most successful Analytics Day events in November 2022 and May 2023, bringing in hundreds of partners, visitors, and students from across the region.
  • The Master of Science in Data Science and Analytics has a 99% job placement rate within the first 6 months after graduation, with almost all those students going directly into analytics and data science jobs. Our MS and PhD programs are consistently ranked as Top 50 Best Value Big Data Graduate Programs.
  • The PhD in Data Science and Analytics was founded in 2015. Our PhD students have produced 4 patents and over 250 publications so far. Approximately 40% of our PhD students are female.
  • The Center for Data Science and Analytics (CDSA) has generated over $3 million in research funding by working with more than 15 companies on REAL data science research projects. These projects are carried out by interdisciplinary teams of faculty, PhD, MS, and sometimes undergraduate students in collaboration with partners.
  • Our on-line, on-demand certificate programs (OPEN TO ANYONE) are providing needed skills to boost the data science and analytics workforce in Georgia. You can learn more about R, Python, or Rapid Miner with these programs.
  • The DS 7900 and STAT 8940 classes are sponsored every semester by companies like Southern Company, IHG, Equifax, SPANX, and Coke One North America. Students work on an analytics problem, present their solutions to company executives, and have a chance to win a prize!
  • Alums of our programs have gone on to work in data science and analytics roles in places like Equifax, Home Depot, Coke One North America, HP Innovation, the Atlanta Braves, Americold, Truist, University of Pennsylvania, Tennessee Technological University, and University of New Hampshire.
  • Our undergraduate minor in Data Science and Analytics can be included in ANY major. It typically has around 150 students, making it one of the most popular minors at KSU. Our undergraduate researchers have presented at Posters at the Capitol (Atlanta) and Posters on the Hill in Washington, DC multiple times.
  • Industry, government, and organizations continue to partner with us to find solutions to their data-centric problems by collaborating with faculty and students through the Center for Data Science and Analytics (CDSA), the Human Studies Lab, and the Care Informatics Lab. Faculty research expertise spans healthcare, credit scoring, medical research, epidemiology, AI Ethics, program evaluation, process improvement, and more. Faculty and graduate students are well versed in well-established statistical and analytical methods, as well as techniques like machine learning, facial recognition, neural networks, and deep learning.

The School of Data Science and Analytics Vision & Mission Statement

Vision Statement

The School of Data Science and Analytics prepares the next generation of practitioners and researchers for a data-centric world by bringing together interdisciplinary faculty from across Kennesaw State University with collaborative partners in the public and private sectors. 

Mission Statement

We integrate research into practical, relevant solutions to address business and societal challenges. Through our educational programs, we address the analytical and data-centric needs of a modern workforce. We serve the university and the broader community in the translation of data into information to support and improve decision making. 

Our Guiding Ethical Principles

Data Scientists have a responsibility to understand how data was collected, ensure the data has been sourced legally and ethically, confirm that use of the data is consistent with how it was intended to be used, and verify that no group(s) of people are intentionally statistically mis/under-represented.

Data Scientists have a responsibility to protect and defend integrity of the data entrusted to them. 

Data Scientists have a responsibility to ensure that the transformation of data into products (e.g., algorithms) is as transparent as possible. The process should be well-documented, explainable, and reproducible.  

Data Scientists have a responsibility to provide evidence that any products they have developed do not exhibit bias or potential harm against any demographic subgroups such as race, gender or ethnicity or subgroups defined by genetic markers or socio-economic status.

While Data Scientists come from multiple educational backgrounds, all individuals engaged in the practice of transforming data into analytical products should accurately represent their qualifications, the limits of their expertise and commit to continued education.