5 Years In, Stern MSBA Still The ‘Uniquest’

The NYU Stern MSBA Class of 2019 during NYU Shanghai Module. Courtesy photo

Every business analytics program calls itself “unique” — and most have a good case. But the Master of Science in Business Analytics at NYU’s Stern School of Business may be the “uniquest” of any premier program, being a part-time program designed specifically for those with more than 10 years’ experience — and designed specifically to live where business and technology converge. Five years after its launch, it is a program that has definitely grown into its skin.

“Unlike most typical MS degrees, what makes our program a little bit unique is that our program is positioned for the experienced professional,” says Roy Lee, NYU Stern’s assistant dean for executive programs. “So most of the MS programs are pre-professional, one to two years. Our average work experience is 12 or 13 years, and average age roughly around 37. So it’s a part-time program for students who are working full-time and attending class part-time. This makes it unique in the sense that the audience are people who are in analytics and working, so it provides really good conversation in the classroom.”

In life, timing is everything. Stern’s one-year MSBA launched just as big data technologies were beginning to emerge — and as they have grown, the program has grown right alongside them.

“Stern is certainly a place where we believe in innovation and thinking about content that really matches industry needs,” Lee tells Poets&Quants for Execs. “And what’s unique about our program is that our program is really positioned at the intersection of business and analytics and data science.”

STAYING CURRENT IN A FAST-CHANGING ENVIRONMENT

Roy Lee. NYU Stern photo

In the World Economic Forum’s most recent “Future of Jobs Report,” 85% of companies surveyed indicated they intend to expand their adoption of big data analytics by 2022. Few predicted this explosion five years ago, but NYU Stern was among them. Now, Lee says, the challenge is staying current. The Stern MSBA is designed to enhance professionals’ use of data to make strategic business decisions, and to stay cutting edge, it has continuously integrated hot topics into the curriculum, from recommender systems and big data to artificial intelligence.

“In terms of when we first started the program and the changes that we see, over the years not only the content has changed,” Lee says. “Yes, we’ve changed our content where analytics is something that’s really also changing. We have obviously a really set tool kit or fundamentals that we do teach. But our curriculum has changed over the years by adding a series of hot topics on things that have been really relevant in the marketplace. So for example, what we’ve seen in analytics recently in the last couple years is really the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence. It’s a specific niche of data science, focused on one area, and that’s something that we’ve added in the curriculum this year to home in a little bit more on this need to understand more about AI, what the difference is between AI and machine learning, and how that plays from an executive point of view.

“We’ve also integrated more big-data technologies as part of the program recommendation engines, and sort of thinking about methodologies around how recommendation engines work, because that’s also a large part of what’s happening in the industry today. So where we find avenues, we’ll include that as part of the curriculum.”

SNAPSHOT OF THE PROGRAM IN PROGRESS

The Stern MSBA is divided into five on-site class modules in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai, leveraging NYU’s three degree-granting campuses and global network, and concluding with an applied capstone project. Since its launch, the program has annually yielded full cohorts of 60-70 students. More than 40% of the MSBA Class of 2019 is international by reported nationality. According to employment data available on LinkedIn, nearly 50% of MSBA students and alumni have been promoted or pivoted careers since enrolling in the program.  

“What impressed me the most from the NYU Shanghai module is the maturity of digital commerce in Shanghai, and the breadth and depth of data it creates,” says current MSBA student Stephanie Grosse Kamphake, head of business analytics, Hunkemöller International B.V., a lingerie retailer headquartered in the Netherlands. During their just-completed module 3 in NYU Shanghai, Grosse Kamphake and her cohort reflected on Didi, a company leveraging analytics and AI to transform the transportation industry in China. “It makes me wonder,” she says, “where this amount of analytical power could take the retail industry in Europe if we would see data and analytics no longer as a nice to have, but a need to have to stay competitive in the future.”

Current student Shivika Mehta, vice president for operational risk at Citibank North America, says one of the aspects of the MSBA program that appeals to her is its focus on predictive and prescriptive analytics.  “Historically, women borrowers have been observed to be financially more responsible and have worked toward uplifting their families and societies,” she says, “yet the segment is relatively underbanked.” During module 3, Mehta and a team of classmates delved deeper into their applied capstone project to try to change that. “Our capstone group is working to improve access to credit as well as providing recommendations for a financial product for women-led SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in Latin America. The project aims to leverage advanced analytics to generate positive social impact alongside creating economic value.” 

DON’T MISS THE BIG PICTURE IN BUSINESS ANALYTICS

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