West Virginia University’s Board of Governors approved a curriculum for business data analytics on Friday (Sept. 25), paving the way for graduate level studies in how large amounts of data are used in the global marketplace, making it one of the first universities to do so.

The new curriculum, offered through the WVU College of Business and Economics, will be available in the form of a Master of Science in Business Data Analytics and as an area of emphasis in the business school’s nationally ranked online MBA program. The programs will be offered in Fall 2016.

“Vast quantities of data are compiled every day for purposes ranging from business to medicine and from government to academia,” said Provost Joyce McConnell. “With the tremendous expertise we have in these fields across campus, we are determined to make West Virginia University a leader in the area of data sciences and data analytics. These new programs are a significant step along that path.”

Graduates of the program will be able to:
• demonstrate expertise in statistical techniques and data mining, as well as utilization of databases and analytical tools;
• apply data analytics to enhance decision-making through performance metrics and measurement, risk indicators, assessment and response, and compliance;
• use business analytics to create data trends and competitive drivers; and
• communicate the analysis and findings of an analytics initiative in moving an organization forward.

“Data analytics is the next frontier that we will all need to know,” said B&E Interim Dean Nancy McIntyre. “Data is collected every minute of every day, sometimes large amounts of data. This program will teach students how to structure and analyze that data, and how to make informed business decisions with that data. This is also very exciting because we are feeding into a commitment on a larger scale by WVU as a whole on data analytics.”

The area of emphasis in business data analytics within WVU’s online MBA program will consist of five foundational courses that will be available starting in the fall of 2016. The Master of Science in Business Data Analytics program will also be offered starting in the fall of 2016. The program will be 30 credit hours, similar to the online MBA program, and is designed to be completed in one year. It adds five more courses on top of the area of emphasis foundational courses to give students both the breadth and depth needed to function effectively within the business data analytics arena. The program also includes two mandatory residencies; the first will include an orientation to the program and the second will be a capstone-style experience where students present findings from a comprehensive project.

“WVU is one of the first institutions to offer data analytics in a master’s program and in an online format,” said Dr. Mark Gavin, B&E associate dean for graduate programs and research impact. “We are building on the success of our online MBA, which is currently ranked #25 in the nation. We will also weave in an emphasis on ethics in data collection, how it is used and how it influences decisions. While this is a new content area, it’s a delivery model that we know well and has a history of success. We have here a stand-alone program that is flexible enough that it can partner with other graduate programs.”

McIntyre pointed to everyday examples of data analytics, such as organizations using website views to measure success. She also noted that using a grocery store card, for example, when checking out provides stores with purchasing trends and behaviors, inventory controls and determines which coupons shoppers receive.

Gavin described an example that hit close to home.

“We recently visited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration facility at the I-79 Technology Park in Fairmont (West Virginia). They receive massive amounts of weather data from buoys, satellites and other collection devices around the world on a daily basis. Much of the data they collect is available to the public and, as an example of what this means, global transportation companies will use this data to help determine optimal transoceanic shipping routes and schedules. This is ‘big data’ informing business decisions, and it’s happening right here in our own backyard.”

McIntyre said, “This industry represents virtually boundless job opportunities, and we are honored to lead the way in data analytics at West Virginia University.”

More information on the business data analytics program is available at be.wvu.edu/data-analytics. It is articulated that the program will appeal to accounting, computer science, economics, engineering, finance, management, marketing, math and statistics students. For further information on the WVU College of Business and Economics, visit be.wvu.edu.



CONTACT: Patrick Gregg, College of Business and Economics
304.293.5131, Patrick.Gregg@mail.wvu.edu

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