Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

New Albers Degree Combines Data with Problem

    Those with a passion for deep analytical content, understanding business-related issues and communications will be happy to learn that a new graduate degree—a Masters of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA)—will be offered by Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics starting Fall Quarter 2016.

    Rebecca Gottstein, a Business Economics major at Seattle U, is excited by the prospect of having a new degree.

    “I think it’s great that there’s more opportunity to further education for things like data processing, especially in the business world,” Gottstein said, “It’s the way of the future, and if we don’t keep up we’re going to get left behind!”

    The first of its kind for the Northwest, the MSBA comes at a time when businesses need employees with both data analysis and information system skills. As larger amounts of data are collected at higher frequencies, the ability to understand, adapt and make effective decisions about potential products and how to market them is becoming a skill of high importance.

    Gareth Green, Chair of the Department of Economics, said that there is about to be a shortage of people who can use and understand software that analyzes the vast amounts of data as it relates to weather, prices and even sports.

    “I started developing the work on this just about a year and a half ago. We had seen a lot in the press and heard a lot from advisory boards saying there is a lot of demand for this,” Green said. “We’re going to have people working within companies, nonprofits [and the] government. They can carry a big spectrum.”

    Courses required for the degree will focus on building technical skills, while also challenging students in specific scenarios that relate to the real world. Seattle U’s urban location allows for immediate access to some of the biggest companies in the country.

    After earning the degree, graduates will have a wider understanding of business practices, languages and strategies that will help them solve new problems and communicate effectively. Students can decide to concentrate on one of three specific areas as they relate to Business Analytics; Data Analytics, Marketing and Financial Economics.

    Green said he expects that most of the people applying for this degree will be seasoned workers in the field who want to come back for more skills to better their knowledge of the business world.

    Some courses offered will include Communicating and Visualizing Data, a class that will emphasize the essential and practical skills that are necessary to relay information in a clear and effective manner. Another class, Mathematical Models for Decision-Making, will have students learn different approaches to problems that involve decision making. This course also aims to have students use the tools learned in the class to tackle a real world problems. Other courses include Data Mining for Business Intelligence, Law for Business Analytics and Programming for Business Analytics. To graduate from the program, students must complete a capstone course that will utilize all of the skills they learned to create a project that will then be presented to an industry partner.

    “Businesses are struggling to figure out all this data they have. They have some very technical people who know a lot about manipulating data, and then you have people on the front-lines who would like to get good information,” said Joseph Phillips, dean of the Albers School of Business and Economics. “But these two groups have a hard time talking to each other. The data-guys don’t know what the problems are, and the problem-people don’t know how to talk to the data scientists. So, we’re trying to create people in the middle.”

    Carlos De Mello-e-Souza, program director for the MSBA, compared the prospective careers students with this degree will find to that of Jonah Hill’s character in the 2011 film “Moneyball,” a number-cruncher who finds patterns and useful information in large amounts of data.

    “It’s not as niche as just people who love bytes and bits and number-crunching. It’s not as general for people who have a general interest in business. It’s for people who are kind of in the middle of that range,” Mello-e-Souza said. “So you want people who know business, want to work in business and are able to communicate with business people.”

    Albers is now in the process of establishing class sizes and professors to teach them. It is a major topic of conversation within the department because they will soon be hiring a new professor to teach classes for this degree specifically. More announcements will come as Fall Quarter 2016 approaches. Until then, additional information about the program can be found on the Albers web page.

    Scott may be reached at [email protected]

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