Certifying success


Data exists everywhere in the world, from refrigerators to watches. The ability to decipher that data is called “data analytics” and is a skill that students can learn at WKU.

The Information Systems Department of the Gordon Ford College of Business offers courses in data analytics that can contribute credits towards majors, minors or an applied data analytics certificate. 

The 18-hour applied data analytics certificate became available to WKU students in fall 2016. The six required classes to obtain the certificate involve statistics, spreadsheets and business data analytics. Students are also required to take two electives, which must be approved by the College of Business and incorporate data in some form.

Information Systems Department Chair Ray Blankenship is excited about the certificate and the opportunities it offers students through improved communication and widespread careers.

 “With the applied data analytics, we’re trying to use a couple of our data analytics courses along with some of our elective courses so that students have a better understanding of how they might take data that’s in one area and relate it to another to make decisions,” Blankenship said.

 A common misconception about the data analytics certificate is that it only consists of math classes. Although math plays a role in data analytics, there is more to it.

Brandenburg senior Olivia Kessinger said she expected the certificate to be “difficult graphs and complicated information” but it has surprised her in being more business-driven.

“It’s honestly a little bit more creative than I thought because you can interpret data in so many different ways,” Kessinger said. “It’s not just a black and white type of thing.”

Kessinger said her favorite part about the certificate has been the real-world knowledge she has gained.

“You can think of data as the new oil,” Blankenship said. “If you have this data, then you can mine this data for information, for knowledge, and do things people hadn’t considered before.”

Students who can understand and decipher data have an enormous competitive edge in the workplace, Blankenship said.

 Falmouth senior Kaylin Wells chose to add the certificate to her marketing major because she  knew it was a skill employers value. 

“If you’re a business student, it’s literally two classes that you add on to the ones you’ve already taken,” Wells said. “It really just expands on the concepts you’ve already learned about and talked about. It gives you the chance to apply those in real scenarios.”

Wells said the certificate stands out on resumes and turns into a great talking point, so much so that she has even been asked about it in interviews.

“When you go to graduate, you’re going to work for a business,” Blankenship said. “So anything that business is doing – having more knowledge about how to analyze the data and present it and communicate the results of that data is going to make you more marketable than someone that hasn’t been exposed to that.”

For more information about the data analytics certificate visit https://www.wku.edu/bdan/certificate.php.