'Big Data' now a big deal at business schools

With looming shortages of up to 200,000 analytics-trained professionals, universities ramp up their Big Data degree offerings.

Big Data is now a subject popping up at universities everywhere, as schools respond to employers' insatiable demand for data analytics skills.

Just this week, it was reported that George Washington University is contemplating adding a Master of Science degree in business analytics to its business school program. As Asha Omelian and Cory Weinberg of GWU's The Harchet report, the proposed program "will include courses like data mining and social network analytics aimed at mid-career professionals with a knack for numbers."

There will be an abundance of opportunities for these professionals. In its seminal report on Big Data published two years ago, McKinsey & Company predicted shortages of 140,000 to 190,000 analytical professionals in the U.S. alone over the coming decade.

As the McKinsey report's authors put it: "the use of big data will become a key basis of competition and growth for individual firms. From the standpoint of competitiveness and the potential capture of value, all companies need to take big data seriously. In most industries, established competitors and new entrants alike will leverage data-driven strategies to innovate, compete, and capture value from deep and up-to-real-time information."

GWU is one of many colleges and universities InformationWeek's Doug Henschen recently identified up to 20 schools now offering Big Data degrees. Selected programs are described below -- note the intense focus on blending computer skills with marketing abilities:

  • Bentley University (Waltham, Mass.) offers a Master of Science In Marketing Analytics, based on "a grounding in strategic marketing and training in making marketing decisions based on quantitative analysis. Program enables students to make informed marketing decisions based on relevant data and to demonstrate the financial impact of those decisions." Students will "be able to analyze large amounts of information to develop customer profiles, determine target markets and segment the customer base."
  • DePaul University (Chicago, Ill.) offers a Master of Science in Predictive Analytics, in which graduates "obtain a variety of skills required for a career in predictive analytics, including the ability to analyze large datasets and to develop modeling solutions for decision support. Students also gain a good understanding of the fundamental principles of marketing and customer relationship management along with communication skills to present results to a non-technical business audience."
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pa.) offers a Master of Information Systems Management with a concentration in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics, which is a "blended business-technology program designed to foster better planning, management and technical abilities. The concentration in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics is designed for cross-training in business process analysis, predictive modeling, GIS mapping, analytical reporting, segmentation analysis and data visualization."
  • Drexel University (Philadelphia, Pa.) offers a Master of Science in Business Analytics, which explores "the use of data to solve business problems. Students learn how to influence decision-making, strategy and operations with fact-based insights and business performance analysis."

(Photo: Joe McKendrick.)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com