(Posted September 5, 2019)

Huntingdon, Pa. – Starting in January 2020, Juniata College will offer master’s degrees in data science and bioinformatics. 

Building upon the College’s existing offerings, which include graduate degrees in accounting, business administration (MBA), and organizational leadership, Juniata’s newest programs will be joined by additional graduate degree programs over the next few years.

“The new graduate programs grew from existing strengths,” said Dom Peruso, professor and chair of the Department of Accounting, Business, and Economics. “The programs were shaped by a strong faculty commitment to learning, and are informed by an understanding of rapidly-changing professional work environments.”  

 Juniata’s data science degree program will prepare students to enter a rapidly-growing field in which job opportunities are emerging across an array of disciplines. Defined as a “concept to unify statistics, data analysis, machine learning, and their related methods,” data science draws from techniques and theories utilized in mathematics, statistics, computer science, and information science. 

“Companies have more data to analyze than ever before. The data science masters will train people, regardless of prior experience, to work with data,” said Kimberly Roth, professor of mathematics. “Past students with data science experience have been quite successful on the job market. Data science combines faculty expertise in both statistics and computer science to help people learn the skills they need for their current job and beyond.”

At the College, the data science graduate degree program is designed for individuals with bachelor’s degrees who want to learn data science, with no prerequisites of courses in computer science or statistics. The program will be 32 credits of coursework, fully online, with the option of participating in once-a-semester weekend boot camp events for team building and technology training. 

Data Science students will obtain a broad skillset which will enable them to collect, analyze, and present data, understand varying disciplines and applications of information technology and data sciences, apply data mining methods, identify patterns in datasets, and to understand ethical guidelines applicable to data management and analysis. 

The College’s master’s degree in bioinformatics will prepare students for entry into a rapidly-expanding interdisciplinary field which develops methods and software tools used to increase understanding of biological data. Combining biology, computer science, information engineering, mathematics and statistics, there is currently an incredible need for properly-prepared bioinformaticians. This field will be a constant necessity as, through continuing research, the amount of data to be analyzed keeps growing and the nature of it is ever changing. 

“Juniata College has received millions of dollars in funding for bioinformatics research education over the past decade,” said Vincent Buonaccorsi, professor of biology. “We have adapted our computing infrastructure and faculty focus such that our students are now fully engaging in the modern world of big data in biology.”

A leader in GCAT-SEEK (Genome Consortium on Active Teaching using Next Generation Sequencing), Juniata is home to a group of educators who seek to incorporate cutting-edge, high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies and computational methods into the curricula. This allows instructors to provide students with hands-on opportunities to apply this technology to investigate biological questions. 

“The bioinformatics master’s program at Juniata leverages our current strengths and pushes students to develop a deeper expertise in subjects including coding, molecular biology, applied statistics, data mining, and data visualization,” Buonaccorsi said. “Applications will be focused on topics including RNA sequencing, genome sequencing, annotation, and variant analysis, microbial community profiling, and transitional medicine.”

As a way to further specialize their education, graduate students may customize their curriculum to follow one of two tracks — a computational concentration or a biotechnology concentration, with both online and on campus courses available 

For more information on graduate programs at Juniata, visit juniata.edu/gradprograms or contact Nicole Bopp, assistant director of graduate admissions at boppn@juniata.edu.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.