One in a series of articles profiling university programs focusing on big data and analytics education.
Central Michigan University has worked with analytics dating back to 2002, when the university’s Research Corporation was working on projects with data mining and predictive analytics to help local businesses succeed.
In 2006, it became clear that the Research Corporation would greatly benefit from graduate students who were trained in analytical methods and tools. Partnering with statistical software giant SAS, Central Michigan University created the Graduate Certificate in Data Mining as way for students across several programs to get advanced analytics training.
Now, according to program director Carl Lee, the six-course certificate program is teaching analytics to graduate students also studying business administration, information systems, computer science, economics, math, engineering and psychology, among others.
“Students tend to want to have some training in analytics in addition to what they’re learning in their program, and they realize that will give them a good niche above and beyond their program,” Lee said.
The Research Corporation’s Business Insight Team, a group inside the corporation that worked mostly with analytics, was rolled into a new venture called the Institute for Health and Business Insight in 2010. The institute and the university are located in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
The certificate program accepted its first students in the fall of 2007. The program has between 10 and 20 students year. Most students are in another graduate program, but a few just take the certificate as stand-alone coursework. “Typically those students have been working and they’re interested in getting more training or changing their job,” Lee said.
There aren’t as many professionals in the program, Lee believes, because those students are often looking for online courses. Lee said he’s been reluctant to put the program online because the subject matter requires hands-on learning, and “hands-on learning online isn’t mature yet.”
The school is considering a full analytics master’s program, Lee said, but the certificate program has been very successful and allows students from several disciplines to get the analytics training they want.
The program emphasizes project–based work, Lee said, and includes courses on database management, data exploration and visualization, text mining, geographical information systems and SAS tools. The university offers two SAS professional certificates on campus as well, Lee said.
- Started in 2007
- 10 to 20 graduate students per year
- Students most often part of another graduate program at the university.
- Tuition for residents is $8,568; out of state students is $13,788.
- Students learn and work with SAS tools.
- Heavily project based, including a course based on a single data mining project.
- Database management, analytics and geographic information services classes included.