New master's program aims to address looming shortage of data scientists

The Carlson School of Management is now recruiting the first class of students for a new Master of Science in Business Analytics program that begins in summer 2014. The new degree program combines the Carlson School's unique strengths in business education and information systems analysis to shape professionals that will leverage big data to make informed business decisions. Graduates of the program will be qualified to meet demand for a looming shortage of data scientists, a demand that's expected to exceed supply by up to 190,000 jobs by year 2018 according to a report by McKinsey Quarterly.

"Offering a program in data science is a natural fit for the school," says Carlson School Dean Sri Zaheer. "Our faculty are world leaders in big data as well as the latest practices in business. The Carlson School is excited for this new opportunity to shape data science professionals with the business acumen needed to apply insights from big data."

Each day, U.S. consumers generate 2.5 billion gigabytes of data. These data are derived from web analytics, real-time sensors, social media behavior, and more. Hidden in this massive pool of data are invaluable business insights that demand sophisticated analytical minds to parse out. The MS in Business Analytics program conveys these technical skills while building a foundation of business knowledge to translate insights into action for organizations of all kinds.

In addition to the rigorous curriculum, the program offers students a valuable experiential learning opportunity through a new Business Analytics Lab that will allow students to work on real-world business problems under the guidance of experienced business partners, faculty members and professional project managers. The students may also have an opportunity to work with the Social Media and Business Analytics Collaborative (SOBACO), a group housed in the Carlson School that examines the effects and causes behind the rapid evolution of information generated by social media channels.

"We want to create next generation of business leaders that make principled, data driven decisions," says Information and Decision Sciences Chair Alok Gupta. "Our faculty are prominent researchers in the field of information systems, and we are excited to provide one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind that focuses equally on developing students' ability through methodological rigor as well as innovative modeling capabilities for business problem solving."

Among a diverse team of instructors, the MS in Business Analytics program is led by Professor Gediminas Adomavicius, an expert in recommender systems and personalization technologies, data mining techniques, and complex auction mechanisms; Professor Alok Gupta, an expert in economic engineering of information systems and web-based social networks; and Professor Ravi Bapna, an expert is assessing economic value of information systems including online auctions, social networks, and cloud computing.

The one-year program will welcome its first cohort of students in June 2014. The rigorous curriculum is divided into three semesters that begins with courses on business fundamentals, followed by courses on technical fundamentals, and concluding with a semester focused on specialty courses and a hands-on learning project. The first and second round deadlines for applications are Nov. 1 and Feb. 1, but the School will accept applications on a rolling basis.