Predictive analytics now offered as a college major

DePaul University in Chicago, working with IBM, announced it is now offering the nation's first masters degree in predictive analytics.

Predictive analytics technology has been around for more than a decade, but many businesses are just starting to embrace the potential of leveraging data to detect patterns that suggest future events. Now, it may be soon possible to hire professionals with degrees specifically in this area.

DePaul University in Chicago, working with IBM, announced it is now offering the nation's first Masters of Science in Predictive Analytics, as part of a new Center for Data Mining and Predictive Analytics. Opening in September 2010, the new center will focus on the applications of data mining across all industries as students prepare for careers in healthcare, green infrastructure, clean energy and utilities, education, transportation and public service, among others.

One graduate student who also works in the corporate world observes that many businesses can't yet grasp how analytics can make a difference, and can benefit from individuals trained in these areas. "There's a lot of data out there about what users are currently using -- what's important to them, and how they need to interact with other products," she explains. "But We didn't really have a good way to use all that data. We had lots of customer information, but we didn't know how to make sense of it."

A report in PCWorld observes that this degree may be the first to be offered in predictive analytics, but several U.S. colleges and universities offer advanced degrees or certificates in data mining, including
Central Connecticut State University, the University of Central Florida , and Stanford University.

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