Top News / December 1, 2016

Smith School Launches Business Analytics Degree

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Dec. 1, 2016) — Companies looking for business insights based on data will have a chance to partner with the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business in a new Master of Science in Business Analytics program.

“They can inform us what skills they are looking for in graduates, and we can use their input in shaping the curriculum to fit the needs of the contemporary business landscape,” said Smith School professor Tunay Tunca, academic director of the 16-month, STEM-certified program that will offer afternoon and evening courses in College Park starting in fall 2017.

Applications are currently being accepted. Priority deadlines for merit award consideration are Jan. 10 for international applicants and Feb. 15 for domestic applicants.

Industry input will come from members of the Smith School Business Analytics Consortium, which also collaborates with the school’s existing Master of Science in Marketing Analytics program and the undergraduate Business Analytics minor.

Inaugural consortium members include Deloitte, Maga Design Group, Mattel, KPMG and Unilever. “We have a long track record of recruiting talented practitioners from the Smith School that both provide the skills we need and fit within our culture,” Dave Pierce, director of Deloitte Consulting, announced in a Deloitte news release. “Based on that history, we are proud to grow our relationship with the university through the Business Analytics Consortium.”

Tunca said consortium members will provide consulting projects for students to tackle during their capstone course in the new graduate program. “Companies are really interested in that,” he said.

Students will prepare for the capstone by focusing on real-world challenges in every course. Tunca said PhD students in math, statistics and computer science know how to work with numbers, but employers want graduates who can frame solutions in business terms and communicate opportunities to nontechnical managers.

“We’re aiming to produce graduates who are familiar with management problems and who have communication skills, so they can understand the data, do solid analytics work, then communicate and get the results applied,” he said. “Every course in the program will address that.”

Tunca said the new program will expand on the Smith School’s leadership in analytics. The existing graduate program in marketing analytics moved quickly to fill employer needs within the field of marketing in 2013. The new offering, the school’s seventh specialty master’s program, will  offer skills in quantitative analysis and  data modeling  in a broad range of application fields including healthcare, consulting, banking and insurance, hospitality, sports management, fraud detection, cyber security, supply chain and operations management, and procurement management.

“It’s a natural fit for the Smith School because of the strength of our faculty,” Tunca said. “We have so many highly recognized experts in the faculty who do world-class analytics research.”

One of Tunca’s current projects, for example, involves analysis of operations at China’s largest ride-sharing company, Didi Chuxing. Using hundreds of thousands of data points, Tunca and his coauthors are able to predict when customers might be willing to pay more for services based on factors such as time of day, weather and air quality. They also can predict when Didi’s independent contract drivers might be more willing to work.

“We can help companies set up their pricing policies so they can better control supply and demand and better match them together,” Tunca said.

Business analytics in other contexts can help companies with better resource planning, improved hiring and staffing, figuring out the best operational policies to deliver healthcare, better utilizing information from social networks, and planning for disaster response.

“In all of these areas, what’s becoming clear is that enormous amounts of data — which was not there 15 or 20 years ago — are becoming available,” Tunca said. “If it was there, it was difficult to collect and organize. Now, many companies do it on a daily basis. What the economy needs now is well-trained business professionals who can put it to good use.”

The Smith School’s other specialty graduate programs include Master of Finance and Masters of Science in Accounting, Business and Management, Information Systems and Supply Chain Management.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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