One in a series of articles profiling university programs focusing on big data and analytics education.
St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia identified a growing need for a new kind of business program. Positions were opening up globally for business people who knew how to work with large datasets and analyze complex problems. And in 2005, the university’s business school set up a master’s degree program to help fill that need.
“Trends in the global marketplace are really what’s driving this program,” says Patricia Rafferty, director of the Master of Science in Business Intelligence program. According to Rafferty, the tools for business intelligence have recently become available to businesses across the board, but the average business person doesn’t know how to leverage the data they now have available to them. “There isn’t one industry that isn’t saying we need to do this [business intelligence] better or we need to start doing this,” says Rafferty.
Operating out of the Erivan K. Haub Business School, the program’s focus is on what students can do with what they’ve learned. It is accredited by SAS in analytics and data mining, something only 5 percent of business schools can boast, Rafferty says. The school also is in the early stages of building a partnership with IBM.
Rafferty says the core of the program is teaching students to think strategically and understand how business intelligence and data can be used for business goals.
Laura Sweet, a student in the MS in Business Intelligence program, has been an administrative assistant for the past five years. In postgraduate programs Sweet says she looked for “anything that would bring me from being an assistant to being the person who has an assistant.” St. Joseph’s emphasizes the practical over the theoretical, she says, adding: “It [the Business Intelligence program] gives me skills I can actually use. You can’t get hired because you learned a theory, but you can by bringing a new skill to the table,” she says.
The master’s degree program was originally designed for working professionals, like Sweet, who were interested in advancing their careers, but also attracted recent college graduates. In 2008, St. Joseph’s opened an online version of their school. Currently, there are approximately 120 students in the online program and 50 in the on-campus program. St. Joseph’s offers both full- and part-time options and holding classes at night or on Saturdays. More than half of the students are part-time and employed in the field.
Part-time students take two courses per semester and one over the summer and are expected to graduate in about 24 months. Full-time students take three courses per semester and one over the summer and are expected to graduate in approximately 18 months. The curriculum at St. Joseph’s University features a set of ten classes. The classes are taken in order, with each class building upon the previous one. Classes at St. Joseph’s University have an emphasis on computer skills and using advanced analytics programs.
The St. Joseph’s program does not have an internship as a requirement, but a number of business intelligence students participate in internships at nearby businesses, including the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Siemens, and SAP.
St. Joseph’s also offers a program for students to earn a certificate in business intelligence. Students who complete this program are eligible to earn credits toward the master’s degree program.
- Program founded in 2005, both full and part-time, both online and on-campus options.
- 50 students on-campus, 120 online in 2013.
- Tuition is $27,000. Housing is available for $10,000 per year.
- Classes meet weeknights and Saturdays.
- Full-time program last 18 months, part time program last 24 months.
- Industry partnership with SAS.
- Fall, spring, and summer semesters.
Jessica Sirkin is a freelance writer based in Boston.
CORRECTION, May 17, 2013: This story has been updated to reflect corrected information about tuition and fees charged at the St. Joseph’s BI program. Tuition is $27,000, not $62,658. In addition there are no student fees associated with the program as originally reported, and the on-campus program has 50 students, not 20.