Mason offers new Data Analytics Credential to prepare students for careers in big data

In This Story

People Mentioned in This Story

George Mason University is offering a new Data Analytics Credential to help undergraduates hone their skills in handling big data.

The new credential is the second one offered in partnership with the Greater Washington Partnership’s Capital CoLAB. Mason launched the Digital Technology Credential in 2019 to support additional skills in data analysis, visualization, and cybersecurity for non-engineers. More than 150 students are currently enrolled in that program.

“The new Data Analytics Credential will enable hundreds of Mason students to offer their specialized data analytics skills to employers who are seeking to meet the talent shortfall in data science and analytics,” says Liza Wilson Durant, associate dean for strategic initiatives and community engagement for the Volgenau School of Engineering

Liza Wilson Durant standing outside in front of a building facing the camera
Liza Wilson Durant says the new credential is an exciting showcase of our industry partners engaging with students from multiple disciplines. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

The credential focuses on data storage and management and will make students more marketable, including for jobs as data analysts and data scientists, says Brett Hunter, associate chair of the Department of Statistics.

The credential is designed for undergraduates in statistics, computing, information technology, and data science who want to acquire the data analytics skills needed by high-profile employers in the metropolitan areas of Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Richmond.

Developed with the Greater Washington Partnership’s Capital CoLAB, the credential equips students across disciplines with the specialized data analytics skills that the Greater Washington Partnership employers have specified to be most important to their operations. The Capital CoLAB (Collaborative of Leaders in Academia and Business) is an action-oriented partnership of employers and academic institutions that executes initiatives to develop the talent needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

By enrolling in either the Digital Technology Credential or Data Analytics Credential programs, students will have direct access to opportunities and engagement with some of the largest employers in the region, including Amazon, Capital One, and Northrop Grumman.

“It is exciting to see our industry partners directly engaged with our students and reinforcing the demand for the skills they are acquiring by offering them internships and other experiential learning opportunities,” says Durant.

Many students in statistics, computational data science, computer science, and information science and technology will only need to take one to three additional undergraduate courses to earn the credential, Hunter says. They can use some of their elective courses to do that.

“The credential is not another degree, but essentially a badge you can put on your LinkedIn profile or electronic resume,” he says. “I think most statistics undergraduates will take advantage of the opportunity to communicate their skills in this new way.” 

The badge associated with the Data Analytics Credential also represents an innovation for students and employers. “Micro-credentials like the Data Analytics badge reflect the ‘new currency’ in denoting skill achievement and helps our students move more easily from college to career,” says Marc Austin, Executive Director of Professional Development and Academic Ventures who leads Mason’s Continuing and Professional Development unit which administers the new digital badge.

More than 50 students have already enrolled in the new Data Analytics Credential program.

Students who are working towards earning the credential will receive several exclusive benefits from area companies, including:

  • Access to a student portal with paid internship and event opportunities.
  • Invitations to participate in annual internship fairs with employers looking to recruit students.
  • Access to professional development webinars and other ad-hoc opportunities.

Mason students can learn more and enroll in the new Data Analytics Credential here.