The Stuart School of Business is a little unusual in the world of business education. Based out of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), the school offers what professor and director of graduate business Krishna Erramili calls an “M.B.A. for engineers and scientists” where the business school faculty members have science degrees. As of August 2012, the Stuart School of Business began offering a Master of Science in Marketing Analytics and Communication.
The program came about when the Stuart faculty noticed an explosion in the need for business professionals with the analytical skills to work with big data.
“We have a long history of focus on technology and quantitative methods,” says Erramili. “We’ve always been in the business of big data. Analytics has always been with us for the past 50-60 years.” At the Advanced Marketing Symposium in April co-hosted by the Stuart School and IBM, Erramili gave a presentation entitled “Big Data: How IIT Stuart is Responding.” In it, Erramili discusses the program and its goal to create “T-shaped,” as opposed to “I-shaped” professionals for the big data sector.
“I-shaped” professionals are all depth, they know one thing and they know everything about it. If that is big data, then they know all about big data, but not much about how to apply it in the business world. “T-shaped” professionals have the depth of the “I-shaped” professionals, but they also have the breadth of training to understand marketing and business needs. “No matter how much data you have,” says Erramili, “there is room for judgment.”
Most students in the Stuart School’s marketing analytics program come from a science or engineering background and are more familiar with math methods than business operations. Students start out with courses on business and working on a computer simulated company. From there they move on to develop their analytical framework and study both quantitative and qualitative analytics including social media marketing analytics.
The degree requires eleven semester-long courses that start with required classes, but also have elective options. The program is flexible, offering part-time and full-time options. Full-time students take three to four classes per semester and graduate in one and a half years. Part-time students take one to two courses per semester and graduate in two to three years. The Stuart School of Business also offers an M.B.A. concentration in marketing analytics, a certificate program in business analytics, and a dual degree M.B.A./Master of Science in Marketing Analytics program.
The marketing analytics program has a large number of international students, who spend part of their time the first year learning about U.S. work culture to prepare them for jobs in the United States. However, as the program gains traction in Chicago, more domestic students are enrolling.
As a capstone project, students are broken up into multidisciplinary teams and take on consulting projects from real-world companies. Students get experience working with real companies in a business setting before they graduate. Internships are encouraged, but not mandatory.
Menaka Alai was a member of the first class of marketing analytics students at the Stuart Business School. She credits the school with helping her get her current job as a consultant at Mu Sigma, which was recently named one of the top 100 fastest growing companies in big data analytics by Red Herring. “I didn’t know anything about the big data buzz until I got to Stuart,” Alai says. But, once there, she found herself thinking “24 x 7 x 365 about how big data works.”
She credits the Stuart School of Business’ hands on approach, saying, “Whatever we learn we actually execute in class right there.” Also, because of a long-term partnership between the Stuart School and IBM, the students do their work on the same kinds of technologies being used in cutting-edge data analytics projects. “A strong technology focus is a prerequisite for success,” says Alai. Erramili adds, “It’s part of our DNA – the quantitative methods, the analytics.”
- Program founded in 2012; serves between 100 and 125 students.
- Students required to take 11 courses, and earn 33 credits. Students have full- and part-time options.
- Tuition: students are charged $1,613 per credit hour. Actual cost depends on each student’s enrollment. Students also pay service, activity and professional co-curricular fees, with amounts depending on full- or part-time enrollment, and health insurance ($890 for the year).
- Capstone practicum project has students acting as consultants for real-world businesses.
- Long-term partnership with IBM.
- First year work for international students designed to help them acclimate to U.S. business practices.