Business school to add 'big data' degree

by Asha Omelian And Cory Weinberg

The GW School of Business will help students analyze mammoth troves of digital data and take advantage of job openings worldwide when it launches a graduate program in business analytics next fall.

The 10-month program is the school’s biggest jump into an arena known as “big data,” which has caught fire across business, engineering and statistics.

GW's graduate business analytics degree

What would you learn?
How to analyze digital data to make predictions and help businesses make better decisions.

What types of classes are offered?
Data warehousing, data mining, risk analytics, sports analytics

How long is the program?
The program is 33 credits, and can take from 10 months to two years to complete.

The field looks to measure and predict business outcomes based on statistical analysis of digital data, like a bank that predicts consumer habits based on credit card purchases.

New York Times blogger Nate Silver, who used statistics to predict winners state-by-state, popularized “big data” in the most recent election cycle.

GW’s Master of Science degree in business analytics will include courses like data mining and social network analytics aimed at mid-career professionals with a knack for numbers.

Business school faculty approved the program, but is still pending approval by the Board of Trustees. The school has already launched a website touting the program that prompts potential applicants to seek out more information.

Associate professor of decision sciences Srinivas Prasad, who will run the program, declined to comment because the program has not earned official approval.

The business school’s department of decision sciences is spearheading the program, with more than 20 faculty members involved in teaching in the program, according to the program’s website.

The program is an expansion of a similar certificate program, which launched in 2011.

Competitor schools like New York University’s Stern of School of Business, which will launch its program in New York City and Shanghai in May, offer similar programs.

The popularity of business analytics have been propelled by $200 million federal research money committed for “big data” by the White House last March. The initiative looks to grow scientists’ and analysts’ knowledge in the field even wider.

The consulting firm McKinsey & Company also projects 1.5 million openings for business managers with background in big data by 2018.

Mary Sette contributed to this report

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