Erin Jones

Erin Jones portrait
Photo by Jonah Holland

As 2024 commencement ceremonies quickly approach, Erin Jones is making history as the first graduate of Mississippi State’s undergraduate data science program.

The Mooreville native began her bachelor’s in data science shortly after obtaining her first bachelor’s degree in 2021 from MSU in psychology.

Launched in 2022, the intercollege, interdisciplinary degree option offers students like Jones the ability to meet the world’s growing demand for data science experts, as well as the opportunity to specialize in a specific area of interest.

 “After graduating, I considered graduate school for psychology, but I realized I liked the research and data aspect of data science more,” she said. “I already had most of the hours and prerequisites I needed, so all I needed to do was take data science and computer programming classes.”

Because of her interest in psychological research and data, Jones chose to concentrate her degree in psychoinformatics, one of 10 concentrations within the program.

Organized through collaboration between MSU’s Department of Psychology and data science program, the psychoinformatics concentration covers a subfield focused on acquiring, organizing and synthesizing data gathered from the field to reveal information about psychological traits.

When asked what she would tell a student considering MSU’s data science program, Jones said she would highly recommend it.

“The program is really unique and full of hands-on experience. It requires you to complete a capstone project and do research in your field that will set you up for a job as soon as you graduate,” she said. “I think the many concentrations offered in the program are very unique compared to other majors. It really gets your feet wet in the industry you’re wanting to go into.”

Jones said after graduating she would “like to stay within psychoinformatics, but I also have research experience in biology. Ideally, I would like to do bioinformatics, hopefully in cancer research or something similar.”

She said gene sequencing is a major part of cancer research, which requires a data scientist to clean and analyze the data.

 “The field requires a whole data pipeline to get meaningful results from the data,” she said.

On being the first data science graduate, Jones said she is excited and glad to have been a part of the new program.

“I feel really comfortable talking to everyone in the department. They’re great and have worked with me a lot since I am an unconventional first graduate,” Jones said. “They made sure I could meet all the requirements and still graduate in only two years.”

In her free time, Jones enjoys playing tennis and traveling around the world. After graduation, she plans to visit Canada and North Carolina before relocating to Houston, Texas, to begin her career.

For more information on data science at MSU, visit

Erin Jones