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Darla Moore School of Business

Data analytics skills prepare MBA students for 21st century jobs

Sept. 17, 2019

U.S. businesses face a shortage of 1.5 million managers with the skills to capitalize on and transform massive amounts of data into insights that can guide decision making and provide value to their organizations, according to a recent study by McKinsey Global Institute.

The Moore School is committed to filling that void by ensuring that all of our graduates are equipped with the data and technology skills hiring managers seek. More than 90 percent of full-time MBAs and many Professional MBA students are completing graduate certificates in business analytics.

The graduate certificate in business analytics encompasses four courses beyond their MBA core course work. Three of the four courses include advanced quantitative methods, data resource management and customer relationship management and data mining. The fourth course in the certificate is an elective with data concentration in either computer science, finance, management or marketing.

To better teach analytics skills to graduate and undergraduate students, faculty are also sharpening their data analytics skills. Approximately 30 Moore School faculty members attended last year a seminar to enhance their knowledge of R so they could better use and teach it. Going forward, analytically intensive courses require students to use R and other advanced analytical techniques as they wrestle with data.

To facilitate data proficiency and richer analytic capability, the Moore School opened a data lab in spring 2019. Analytics at its heart is virtual, and students can come together anywhere to work on data located on servers in the cloud. The establishment of the data lab is a physical statement that emphasizes data as an area of excellence for the Moore School. The lab is a centerpiece of the building, located on the second level next to the finance lab.

Through work supervised by data lab staff, students complete projects using R to analyze voluminous sets of real-world business data. Student teams also use popular tools such as SQL for database management and Power BI to visualize and report data.

“These types of learning experiences expand students’ data science skills and broaden their understanding that proficiency in data analysis and data-driven decision making are critical skills for everyone,” said Sung-Hee “Sunny” Park, associate professor in management science and founding director of the data lab.

Doctoral and MBA candidates and undergraduates who excel in data analytics staff the lab and mentor students.

“Moore School students undertake projects [with data] provided by collaborating community, governmental and industry partners,” Park said. “The projects teach students how to extract, clean, load, analyze and visualize large real-world data sets, and the mentors sharpen their skills in data science by working with students.”

While graduate students are strongly encouraged to learn and understand data analytics and given ample opportunities to become data proficient, the Moore School has significantly restructured the undergraduate curriculum, so these students also gain a solid understanding of cutting-edge analytical techniques. Similar to the graduate certificate in business analytics, undergraduates can choose to add a 12-hour Business Analytics Undergraduate Concentration to ensure they are fully prepared to use data to guide their decision-making in their careers.

As far as staff can tell, no business school in America is focusing on data proficiency and analytics at the Moore School’s scale and level. Moore School graduates are entering the workforce fully prepared and equipped with the skills, attitude and work ethic they need to succeed in their careers.


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