Big data is fundamentally changing how companies do business. Organizations today are challenged to make sense of the voluminous troves of data that flow through the business at an unprecedented pace. Industries that include retail, finance, manufacturing, health care and others are faced with a pressing need to make important business and operational decisions on up-to-the-minute data.
Companies are investing in state-of-the-art business intelligence and analytics solutions to turn information into insight, but new technology alone doesn’t fill an organization’s business analytics needs. Applying technology to real-time data to solve real business problems requires business professionals with the skill to understand the meaning behind the data and make decisions with long-lasting impact to a business’s bottom line.
Helping professionals develop this skill is the premise behind Notre Dame’s Master of Science in Business Analytics program, a one-year program offered by the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. Designed for working professionals, classes are held on alternating weekends and meet at the Mendoza College of Business’ campus located on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.
“The program is designed for working students with at least two years of experience beyond an undergraduate degree and a baseline understanding and comfort level with mathematical topics and computers in general,” says David Hartvigsen, professor in the Department of Information Technology, Analytics, and Operations. “It teaches them to understand the needs and challenges of the business, to take the data the business has collected and figure out how to squeeze information out of that data using off-the-shelf computer packages.”
A curriculum designed specifically for working professionals lends itself to more of an interactive workshop setting where students are able to share and appreciate big data experiences from the workplace. This concept includes an analytics capstone project near the program’s completion in which several well-known companies bring real-world business problems for students to tackle using the analytics techniques and methods they’ve learned. These include big-data analytics techniques such as data mining, data visualization, statistics, modeling, optimization and simulation for business areas including finance, operations and marketing.
“We attract students who are very cognizant of the needs a business has for these techniques because they see them right in their workplace and they’re motivated to gain a deeper understanding,” Hartvigsen says.
The Master of Science in Business Analytics program, which begins each January, is broken out into four modules of study. The first two modules consist of an introduction to business analytics course, followed by a focus on technical and general purpose skills such as data mining, data visualization and exploration, and statistics. The final two modules apply those tools to specific business areas including marketing, operations, customer analytics and social media. Including the capstone project, there are 30 credit hours of course work.
“We developed the curriculum after speaking with about 30 companies that actively hire people with these skills,” says Hartvigsen. “We’re well aware of the needs these companies have and we’ve built that into the curriculum to provide a comprehensive business analytics skillset. We have students from all different fields – finance, retail, consulting companies and others – and they’re all able to take advantage of the techniques they learn in their own unique way.”
- Began January 2015
- One-year, 30-credit program
- Classes meet on alternating weekends, Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Total program cost $59,214
- Financial aid and fellowships available
- Application requirements include active employment and two years of work experience
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