The university has launched its course in the face of what it says is an explosion in demand for data scientists in the past five years.
JCU has launched the course through a link with data science company and analytic software provider SAS to offer its Master of Data Science program with SAS advanced analytics modules and the Teradata University Network.
The university's head of Physical Sciences in the College of Science and Engineering, Professor Ron White, said data science was one of the world’s fastest growing professions.
“The huge shortage of qualified professionals is pushing up salaries, with many top-level data scientists commanding salaries of more than $200,000. A recent survey found that the median salary pocketed by analytics professionals in Australia in 2016 was $130,000,” he said.
And the university’s Master of Data Science students could also now look forward to membership of the SAS Academy of Data Science and achieve a joint industry certification with JCU as part of the course.
Professor White said the Master of Data Science program at JCU was the first fully online Master of Data Science course with direct industry certification in Australia.
“Our market research indicated that SAS experience and Big Data skills were highly sought after by employers. So, embedding SAS Big Data and Data Science modules with material based on real world scenarios enables our students to be industry-ready on graduation.”
Dr Neil Fraser, JCU lecturer in Data Science, said the joint initiative would also help graduates and industry-experienced professionals further their education with a relevant qualification.
“It will allow them to experience various new datatypes, amazing new datasets, advanced algorithms, emerging modelling programs, database technologies and data management practices.
“SAS is a good partner for us as it has a long history as a corporate leader in environmental sustainability, corporate social responsibility and sustainable practices at all its headquarters around the world. This is aligned to James Cook University’s own program around sustainability in action."
Dr Fraser said over the past five to ten years, data science had become part of core business strategy and new business development opportunities for companies.
“Trained graduate-level data scientists support the development of new business with ideas and statistical learning models that can give an uncontestable advantage for companies over their competitors. As a result, businesses are now recruiting data science teams,” he said.
Dr Fraser said the data science industry would continue to evolve with the growth of mobile data, and the expected surge in data coming from the Internet of Things, “which it is thought will lead to over 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2050”.
David Bowie, vice-president of SAS Australia and New Zealand, said JCU was amongst more than 4000 such institutions worldwide that partner with SAS to address a growing critical need.
“The world is facing a serious shortage of qualified data scientists and Australia is not immune. As increasing numbers of businesses and other organisations adopt advanced analytics, including artificial intelligence and deep learning to further their aims, graduates with these JCU and SAS certifications will find themselves in ever increasing demand.”