Board of Regents approves Kennesaw State Ph.D. program


Ph.D. in analytics and data science one of the first of its kind in the U.S. KENNESAW, Ga.  (…

Georgia (Feb 10, 2015)Ph.D. in analytics and data science one of the first of its kind in the U.S.

KENNESAW, Ga.  (Feb. 11, 2015) —The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved at its meeting today a new Ph.D. program in analytics and data science at Kennesaw State University. The program is one of the first of its kind in the nation.

The innovative program, which will be launched in fall 2015, is designed to train individuals to translate complex large, structured and unstructured data into information to improve decision-making. The doctoral coursework will include programming, data mining, statistical modeling and the mathematical foundations to support these concepts.

The McKinsey Global Institute has predicted the demand for deep analytical talent in the U.S. will outpace the supply by almost 200,000 people before the end of the decade. McKinsey’s 2011 “Big Data Report” and subsequent studies point to the need for universities to educate and train data scientists to address this demand.

“Developing new Ph.D. programs is one of Kennesaw State’s top strategic priorities, and this program directly ties to the University System of Georgia’s goal of increasing programs that contribute to a global Georgia,” said Ken Harmon, the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Graduates of this program can either pursue a position in the private or public sector as a practicing data scientist – where demand is expected to greatly outpace the supply – or pursue a position within academia, where they would be uniquely qualified to teach these skills to the next generation of practitioners.”

The decision to develop a program in analytics and data science stems from the success of the university’s existing Master of Science in Applied Statistics, whose graduates are in great demand and continue to have a 100 percent placement. Another factor was the minor in applied statistics and data analysis, which has undergraduate demand from every college across the university and similarly strong placement.

“Given the success of our outstanding master’s degree program in applied statistics, it is natural to build upon that and create a Ph.D. program,” said Mark Anderson, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, which will house the new program. “This program will help close the talent gap in the area of data science and further enhance the university’s regional and national recognition in applied analytics, while expanding the pool for analytical talent in Georgia.”

Jennifer Lewis Priestley, professor of applied statistics and data science, will serve as the director of the Ph.D. program. Priestley, who also serves as director of the Center for Statistics and Analytical Services, was honored with the 2012 SAS Distinguished Professor award for her efforts toward educating and preparing students for a career in statistical analysis.

According to Priestley, the next generation of statisticians requires a new set of knowledge and skills in order to effectively serve the data analysis needs of the 21st century.

“The focus of the doctoral program will be to develop skills and incorporate more emphasis on applied mathematics and computer programming than has historically been the case,” said Priestley. “Due to the rigor and unique approach of our program, we expect to attract top candidates from universities throughout the world.”

Kennesaw State introduced its first Ph.D. program in 2011 in international conflict management. The program continues to grow and currently enrolls 48 students from 13 countries. The university also offers professional doctorates in education, nursing and business.

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive university with more than 32,000 students from 130 countries. In January 2015, Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University consolidated to create one of the 50 largest public universities in the country. 

Contact: Robert S. Godlewski, 470-578-3448,





A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit