GW Partners With IBM for New ‘Big Data’ Degree

The Master of Science degree in business analytics will launch this fall.

August 19, 2013

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Duques Hall, home of the GW School of Business, which will launch a Business Analytics Degree in partnership with the IBM Academic Initiative this semester.

By Brittney Dunkins

The George Washington University will launch a Master of Science degree in business analytics  in partnership with the IBM Academic Initiative this semester.

The M.S. program, offered in a 10-month format to full-time students in the School of Business, will teach the necessary skills to manage and analyze “big data,” an all-encompassing term for the large data sets that are increasingly being collected for and by organizations and used to improve efficiency, develop strategy and more.

A certificate program will also be available, offering a shorter timeframe and focused curriculum that grounds students in the foundational knowledge of business analytics.

"There is a fast growing need for business leaders who have a deep knowledge in analytics," said Doug Guthrie, dean of the School of Business. "Through the partnership with IBM, our students will have access to the latest advances in technology and expertise, launching them into successful careers."

IBM supports more than 1,000 academic partners and provides curriculum materials, real-world case study projects, access to a wide spectrum of software solutions, as well as guest lectures with IBM analytics thought-leaders.

GWSB has been developing its analytics programming since 2010, meeting with Frank Stein, director of IBM's Analytics Solutions Center in D.C., during that summer to discuss the potential partnership.

Shortly thereafter, the Department of Decision Sciences  launched a concentration in analytics and started to develop the M.S. degree. This fall will mark the first semester that an M.S. degree in business analytics will be available at GW.

“Recent studies have shown that more and more organizations are beginning to realize the value of analytics and are making substantial investments in it,” said Associate Professor of Decision Sciences Srinivas Y. Prasad.

“Analytics providers such as IBM are responding to these trends by investing heavily in improving their analytics capabilities and have drawn attention to the supply of analytics professionals, or more precisely, the potential shortage of talent that organizations are likely to face,” he added.  

The curriculum developed in collaboration with IBM will prepare students for the increased demand for analytics positions projected by the U.S. Department of Labor.

According to the findings, there will be a 13 percent increase in the demand for statisticians, 22 percent increase for operations research analysts and 24 percent increase for management analysts.

“Analytics is increasingly important in a number of business disciplines including finance, marketing and operations and is being applied in rather creative ways in health care, medicine and security, among other fields,” Dr. Prasad said.

The coursework is centered on a four-pronged approach, combining a methods/foundation section in descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics; an applications section offering elective and selective options in analytics applied to a specific functional area or an industry; a skills section built on workshops in communication, team and project management; and a technology section that allows hands-on exposure to industry standards.

Dr. Prasad recommends the program to students with an aptitude for data and quantitative analysis; with undergraduate degrees in STEM subjects, business, economics, computer science and related fields; and perhaps most importantly—students with a demonstrated passion for careers in analytics.

“Analytics is really about making better decisions, and as the Department of Decision Sciences, we are committed to our mission of advancing the scientific principles and best practices of management decision-making in both the private and public sectors,” Dr. Prasad said.