Featured News JCU takes new direction in data science with SAS

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Tue, 31 Jul 2018

JCU takes new direction in data science with SAS

In an Australian first, James Cook University is now offering fully-online training as a data scientist – a profession for which demand has exploded in the past five years.

JCU’s Head of Physical Sciences in the College of Science and Engineering, Professor Ron White, said data science is 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.

Now, in an Australian first, JCU has linked with data science leader and analytic software provider SAS® to offer its Master of Data Science program with SAS advanced analytics modules and the Teradata University Network.

Graduate data scientists will be able to develop insights for government and industry from the reams of information found in new databases they will create and/or existing databases that they will analyse.

The university’s Master of Data Science students can 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. (See below for the certifications.)

Professor White said the Master of Data Science program at JCU is the first fully online Master of Data Science with a direct industry certification aspect 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 will 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 has 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 will 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 is amongst more than 4,000 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,” he said.


With James Cook University’s 100% online Master of Data Science, students are able to leverage a flexible learning curriculum. The team of lecturers involved link authentic data case studies, which aims to ensure students are fully up to date with emerging trends and equipped for a career that is found in nearly all industry and government sectors.  Course content is designed with the online student in mind, with an interactive online learning environment and constant student support throughout from tutors and success advisors.

The certifications:

JCU-SAS Joint Certificate in Introductory Data Science awarded to students who complete the following subjects:

  • MA5800 – Foundations of Data Science
  • MA5820 – Statistical Methods for Data Science
  • CP5804 – Database Systems
  • MA5830 – Data Visualisation

JCU-SAS Joint Certificate in Advanced Data Science awarded to students who complete the following subjects:

  • MA5821 – Advanced Statistical Methods for Data Scientists
  • CP5806 – Data and Information: Management, Security, Privacy and Ethics
  • MA5831 – Advanced Data Processing and Analysis using SAS
  • MA5851 – Big Data: Processing and Analysis

This joint agreement will also help prepare students for the following SAS certification to become a SAS® Certified Big Data Professional Using SAS®9.

Specifically, it will cover the main topics for the following SAS certification exams:

Students can sit these SAS exams for additional certification and these are external to the JCU program and at the student’s own expense. More details can be found here based around the SAS Academy of Data Sciences.


Professor Ron White
P: 07 4781 4197
E: Ronald.white@jcu.edu.au

Dr Neil Fraser
E: Neil.fraser@jcu.edu.au

SAS Media team:
Amar Vohra
Director, Corporate Communications, Asia Pacific
P: +61 (2) 9428 0592
M: +61 (417) 686 135
E: amar.vohra@sas.com