Business Analytics Department

Business Analytics Master’s Degree is named one of “20 Top Programs”


The Master of Business Analytics program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is a Top-20 program in Big Data Analytics according to InformationWeek. The InformationWeek alphabetical listing of “well-known and emerging masters programs specifically targeting the big data analytics talent gap” includes programs in colleges of business, computer science, and engineering across North America.

UT’s College of Business Administration is among the elite business colleges in the United States that offer business analytics programs, according to Ken Gilbert, Ralph and Janet Heath Professor of Business and head of UT’s Department of Statistics, Operations, and Management Science. Only six U.S. business colleges in the top-20 listing offer either MBA or master of science (MS) business analytics degrees; the University of Tennessee, MIT, New York University, Drexel, LSU, and Cincinnati.

“We have been an innovator in incorporating business analytics into our curriculum,” said Gilbert. “We were the first business school in the country to offer an undergraduate, master’s degree, and master’s /MBA dual degree in business analytics.”

Graduates who understand business analytics and have strong business and leadership skills have excellent job opportunities. “That combination seems to be rare among today’s graduates, yet it is in incredibly high demand by organizations,” continued Gilbert.” As a result, business analytics is a strategic initiative for our college.”

According to Gartner Research, big data creates big jobs. Data analytics is expected to create 4.4 million jobs worldwide by 2015, but the availability of skilled workers will fill only one-third of those projected openings. And, a May 2011 McKinsey Global Institute study, “Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity,” estimates that the United States faces a shortage of up to 190,000 individuals with deep analytical skills as well as a shortage of 1.5 million managers and analytics who can analyze big data and make decisions based on their findings.

Yet, the application of business analytics has become a key basis of organizational competition and business growth. Kroger and its partner, dunnhumby, have pioneered the use of customer transaction data to drive 34 straight quarters of same-store sales growth. Similar gains have been found by leading companies in manufacturing, finance, insurance, and healthcare.

“We recognize this existing critical talent shortage and are committed to offering relevant curricula to prepare our graduates for the growing needs of business,” continued Gilbert. “Over 20 global leaders in the use of business analytics firms such as Deloitte, Ernst & Young, dunnhumby, Capital One, Disney, Eastman Chemical, Hanes, Home Depot, and State Farm have hired our graduates.”

UT’s business analytics curricula prepares students to identify opportunities for revenue growth through the analysis of data and business processes. It also helps students develop the teamwork and communications skills they need to be successful.

In solving business problems, students gain experience applying the tools of data mining, statistical analysis, business process optimization, and business intelligence. These tools are applied to a range of problems; such as predicting the profitability of customers, measuring the impact of media promotions, choosing the optimal mix of products, and understanding the relevant cost in outsourcing decisions.

UT currently offers three unique ways to earn a graduate-level business analytics education. Students can earn a master’s degree in business analytics; dual master’s degrees in business analytics and business administration (MBA); and, for MBA students not wanting to earn the master’s in business analytics but who are interested in the subject matter, an MBA with a concentration in business analytics.

Undergraduates can major in business analytics or supplement another major with a nine-hour business analytics concentration.

“We know of no other school in the nation providing this scope of business analytics offerings,” said Jan Williams, dean of UT’s College of Business Administration.”

UT’s business analytics program also embraces the business community:

  • UT’s 2012 Business Analytics Conference, whose speakers included Bill Franks (Teradata’s chief analytics officer), Ken Thewes (Regal Entertainment Group’s chief marketing officer), Ed Hudson (Kroger’s senior director of strategic initiatives), and Justin Cutroni (Googles’s analytics advocate) attracted 200 participants.
  • UT’s Business Analytics Forum, whose members include global organizations such as Caterpillar, Capital One, State Farm, Jewelry TV, and Pilot-Flying J, hosts semi-annually meetings to share best practices.
  • UT’s thriving seminar series interacts corporate speakers with business analytics students.

“We will continue to develop and enhance our curriculum to keep ahead of demand,” said Gilbert. A program in Supply Chain Analytics is scheduled to launch later this year.

Read the full InformationWeek article.

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About Angela Scruggs

Angela is a graduate student at the University of Tennessee pursuing a M.S. in Business Analytics. Angela will graduate in December 2014 and go on to join an analytics team with Hanesbrands, Inc., in January 2015. She completed her Bachelors in Business Statistics with a Marketing Collateral degree in December of 2012 also at the University of Tennessee.

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