The International Business School (IBS) at Brandeis University has recently announced a new, one year Master of Science (MS) degree program in Business Analytics. Due to begin in the fall of 2018, the program aims to teach its students the skills needed to analyze vast quantities of data. IBS believes this ability will be in high demand, and will be useful to graduates seeking jobs in many fields. Business school deans see this program as a natural outgrowth of the courses and resources it has on hand. While the program is pending the formal approval of the Board of Trustees, the administration has given the go-ahead.
The program will include eight courses taken over the academic year, an internship in summer and a final core analytics course. The eight courses will be made up of 24 core credits, 12 elective credits for the business analytics degree and four general elective credits in the business school. Examples of core course titles are “Big Data 1,” “Applied Econometrics”, and “Programming for Business Analytics.” Elective offerings cover different branches of analytics, such as “Marketing Analytics,” “Machine Learning,” and “Supply Chain Analytics.”
The summer internship will take the form of a consulting project, according to IBS Senior Associate Dean Kathryn Graddy.
“That will be four or five students with a faculty member, and they will have a project that a company will give us, and they will work on that all summer,” she said.
“[The program is ] the answer to businesses and professionals getting access to a lot more data than they have had in the past and developing the skills and the insights that you need to use it to run businesses much more efficiently,” said Peter Petri, interim dean of IBS and the Carl Shapiro Professor of International Finance. He views the MSBA as a springboard to a vast array of opportunities. “It’s finance, it’s marketing, it’s publications trying to figure out…what to publish and in what format.”
IBS administrators hope graduates will be in high demand. Graddy estimates the average salary could be as high as $65,000, compared to the $60,000 average salary for the MA program. According to the proposal by IBS, “there is strong growing demand for the degree.”
Ninety-four percent of schools submitting data reported an increase in applications in the business analytics field, compared to just 43 percent of MBA programs. “Katy [Kathryn Graddy] and I were new in the job last August, and we thought this was a great project to get behind and move forward,” Petri relates. He half-jokes, “We don’t want to be the last.”
Graddy says this program is not a true novelty at IBS. A concentration in Business Analytics already exists as part of their MBA and MA programs. The proposal asserts the majority of the classes and faculty are in place. “It’s a natural extension of what we were already doing. We want to make it solely focused on data analytics.” Recent graduates of the MA program have been getting jobs in analytics, with titles such as “Market Research Analyst” at Blue Stream Lab. “This is not kind of overnight…it’s clear now that it’s becoming a separate skill,” Petri explains. “It all seemed to come together.”
IBS has several experts in statistics and econometrics, related fields to business analytics. Professor Blake Lebaron is a renowned specialist in high-technology finance, while Assistant Professor Davide Pettenuzzo is internationally recognized for expertise in econometrics. IBS is hiring new faculty, including Assistant Professor Bhoomija Ranjan, who brings knowledge of marketing analytics, and IBS plans to hire another faculty member next year.
The Rabb School of Continuing Studies at Brandeis already offers a part-time online MS in Strategic Analytics. “We do not expect our program to impact the Rabb program,” the proposal states, explaining that the two have very different target audiences and areas of focus. One advantage of the MSBA is that it is STEM-classified, meaning international students can stay to work, in the area of their degree, for up to 36 months after graduation rather than the usual 12. This grants them more time to procure their employers’ sponsorship of an H-1B visa, which permits employers to hire foreign workers in positions requiring specialized knowledge or degrees.
With the first class entering next fall, admissions are ramping up. “We think it’s going to be pretty competitive,” Graddy said. “You’ll have to take the GMATs, and we hope to enter about 30 to 35 people the first year.” The only other prerequisite for the program is a statistics course. As several of the courses will be available to undergraduates, Petri believes the MSBA will enhance the undergraduate experience as well. He also encourages current Brandeis undergraduates to apply. “I hope [undergraduates] will be among those who are interested in it,” he said.