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Darla Moore School of Business

Developing valuable insight through data

The Darla Moore School of Business has launched a new Master of Science in Business Analytics, a flexible, one-year program that will train students to apply statistics and data visualizations to real-world business problems and teach them how to translate data into actionable insights for companies and organizations.

“The Master of Science in Business Analytics program addresses the high demand organizations have for data proficient, analytically capable professionals who can scrutinize data and draw meaningful insights to inform decision-making,” said Moore School Dean Peter Brews. “Companies need individuals who can help them make sense of massive data sets so their organizations can become more competitive, efficient and better informed.”

The new master’s degree will close the gap between the theory and practice of analytics, said Pelin Pekgun, faculty director for the MSBA program and associate professor of management science.

“Data-driven decision-making has become highly prevalent in every sector, including engineering, health care, sports, hospitality, government and manufacturing,” she said. “The program is intentionally designed to be cross-functional so that graduates are equipped to understand and help solve a wide array of problems in business by using, managing, analyzing and interpreting data for business intelligence.”

Through the program, students will develop a keen understanding of analytical competencies, starting from the ability to understand and frame a business problem, to developing a solution and identifying the right approach to solving the problem, and finally to presenting findings in a clear and concise manner to stakeholders.

Students will gain technical expertise in tools such as Excel, SQL, PowerBI, Tableau, R, Python and SAS for descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics.

“Students can take a generalist approach or delve deeper into a specific functional discipline such as accounting, finance, human resources, economics, marketing, operations and supply chain or international business,” Pekgun said.

Making strategic decisions requires the ability to use data to analyze, frame and explore past performance and gain insights into future trends. In recent years, the demand for skilled professionals who can translate data into valuable business insights has increased dramatically. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the need for business analysts to grow 14 percent from 2016 to 2026 as companies seek to improve efficiency and control costs with analytics.

Corporate partners like Boeing see the need for a program like the MSBA.

“At Boeing, data analytics is a key enabler and a core organizational capability to derive insightful and actionable intelligence across the enterprise,” said Srini Venkatraman, chief data scientist for Boeing. “USC’s Master of Science in Business Analytics program provides students an interdisciplinary approach to develop and strengthen essential analytics skills to succeed in today’s data-driven world.”

Mark Ferguson, senior associate dean for academics and research, agrees.

“The launch of the Moore School’s MSBA program is really just part of a seven-year effort at the Moore School to incorporate more evidence-based decision-making into our curriculum,” said Ferguson.

The Moore School’s business analytics concentration at the undergraduate level and certificate at the graduate level have been extremely popular with students and the companies that recruit them.

The MSBA program is available to students of all disciplines and majors, as most industries and sectors seek to increase their use of data to gain valuable insights and enhance the competitive edges of organizations within their domains.

“We designed our program to primarily serve as a fifth-year option for undergraduates, with most of the students starting the program the year after they earn their bachelor’s degree,” Ferguson said. “Thus, no extensive previous work experience is expected. Instead, our program includes a data-intensive project or internship so that students have the opportunity to apply their new skill sets before embarking on their careers.”

Applications for the new MSBA program are open now. While the new program is open to all majors, quantitatively capable undergraduates from the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines are particularly encouraged to apply. The priority deadline to apply is Feb. 26 for the inaugural fall 2021 semester. Learn more about the MSBA at

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