Meharry announces Data Science Ph.D. program

data science academics and research

Meharry School of Applied Computational Sciences has added a new Ph.D. in Data Science to its academic programs. The School is currently accepting applications for the first Ph.D. cohort that will begin classes in the Fall 2024 semester.

Fortune Mhlanga, Ph.D.

“We are thrilled to announce our second doctoral program,” says Dean Fortune S. Mhlanga, Ph.D. “Through challenging courses and innovative research opportunities, we seek to produce talented, diverse leaders who use artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) to solve complex problems while avoiding potential algorithmic bias and ethical use issues. This new doctoral program will expand our institutional research capacity in AI/ML to support basic research.”

Nadine Shillingford, Ph.D.

“Our curriculum combines mathematics, advanced statistics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, advanced data analytics and database design with an ethical, collaborative, and practical approach,” says Nadine Shillingford, Ph.D., chair, department of computer science and data science.

“Students will apply those concepts to the research and design of real-world projects and work with our faculty as they pursue new discoveries through their dissertation,” adds Dr. Shillingford.

Students enrolled in the Fall 2024 and Fall 2025 cohorts will be eligible for support thanks to a $1.2 million National Science Foundation CREST HBCU-RISE grant. The grant will fund 50 percent support for six students in both cohorts. Student can also pursue NSF-funded graduate teaching and research assistant positions upon successfully completing the candidacy exam.

The NSF award will also support hiring two talented faculty with proven expertise in AI/ML and data science research as well as fund enhancements to Meharry’s high-performance computing system.

Adding the Data Science Ph.D. program at Meharry, a Historically Black College and University, also furthers support toward the Meharry SACS goal to increase diversity in computer science-based fields like data science. According to the National Science Foundation Survey of Earned Doctorates, less than two percent of all computational science Ph.D. students are Black.

“Our program will significantly contribute to increasing the diversity of individuals with a doctoral degree in data science who are prepared for both industry and academics careers,” says Dean Mhlanga. “I have no doubt that the cutting-edge research our students conduct for their doctoral degrees will advance our knowledge in key areas important to the nation and society.”

Application requirements, curriculum, and more information is available at

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