As soon as the summer of 2015, graduate students will have the opportunity to complete a new Master of Science degree in business analytics, the first of its kind in Fairfield County.

The MSBA, a 30-credit program, was designed to appeal to those students “who are very interested in business professions and come from non-traditional business backgrounds — mathematicians, economists, politics majors, sociologists,” and “would be attracted to something that has an analytical component to it,” said Associate Dean of the Dolan School of Business Mark Ligas.

According to Donald Gibson, dean of the Dolan School of Business, nowadays companies are “gathering a lot more data, especially social media data.”

For this reason, there is “a new approach called business analytics that tries to make sense of all this data and see patterns in it,” Gibson said. The MSBA program will help to “develop students who can do that.”

Ligas added that this analytical component “is not quite so clear in your traditional MBA, so now we have it specifically in a degree-granted program.”

In addition, through the MSBA program, graduate students can enroll in “novel and distinct classes that you wouldn’t find in a traditional graduate business program,” said Ligas.

“It’s not just courses that teach you how to crunch the numbers,” Ligas continued, “but also courses that teach you how to think about and strategize with regard to what these numbers can tell you.”

The MBA has been quite a popular graduate program, Gibson said, but “lately we’re seeing a trend towards students going toward more focused degrees. This is another more specific degree that attracts students who want to focus on just this for one year.”

For Ligas, through the new MSBA program the “analytical methods and decision-making practices that [students] will undertake so as to make sense of this information,” will be useful for students in the growing marketplace.

He added that the program provides an additional benefit for students who are international because, given that this is a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) designated program, “it gives them extra time post-degree completion in order to find internship and job opportunities.”

Ligas also spoke for the dynamic nature of the program, saying “we will have some online classes, and we will have some on the ground classes.”

Gibson encourages undergraduate students “who might be thinking of going to graduate school” to look into this program as well, since “it’s designed to continue into the Master of Science, and they could do it as a fifth year essentially.”
Ligas agreed, saying “at the graduate level, you can have seven week classes, some of which will occur in this program, so it becomes very doable for someone to move through the program in that fifth year. If you add one more year, you get the advanced degree.”

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