The University of Texas McCombs School of Business has launched a new online version of its highly ranked, highly popular Master of Science in Business Analytics.
The MSBA for Working Professionals will welcome its first cohort in June, and the Round 4 admission deadline is April 17.
The online format closely mimics the in-person degree, following the same curriculum, same number of credits, and it is taught by the same McCombs faculty.
THE MCCOMBS’ MSBA
McCombs launched its full-time residential MSBA about eight years ago, driven almost entirely by demand from corporate partners such as Walmart, Deloitte and others.
“These big companies came to us and said, ‘we know you have faculty experts in this area, why don’t you train students in it?’” says Jade DeKinder, associate dean for McCombs’ Master of Science Programs and clinical assistant professor of marketing.
The 10-month program has enjoyed great demand since its launch, getting between 800 and 1,000 applications for about 65 spots. Three years ago, it expanded to a second cohort which doubled enrollments. Its 2022 graduates with previous work experience accepted jobs with an average starting salary of $127,000 at companies such as Whole Foods, Dell, Indeed, top consulting firms, Amazon, and others.
A unique focus of its approach is going beyond mere number crunching to teach students to quantify trade offs of business decisions, says Genaro Gutierrez, director for McCombs’ Master of Science in Business Analytics program and associate professor of Information, Risk & Operations Management.
In other words, it trains students to manage an analytics project from beginning to end while teaching them all the analytics, statistics, and optimization required to do so.
“We have endeavored to cover every aspect of an analytics project, and that’s not trivial,” Guitierrez says. “Our students are trained to engineer their own data sets meaning they need to learn how to navigate data warehouses, cloud systems, distributed systems, scrape data from the web, and so on. Then they need to understand the math that goes into the models, the machine learning, the AI, so that they can understand the limitations of what the model tells them.
“And then, we take them through the business end of it, and how it connects to the company. In that sense, I think the breadth of training distinguishes our program.”
The new online version for working professionals will run 23 months with students meeting for live online sessions every Tuesday evening. While online allows schools to reach more students, McCombs is keeping its program at 65 to maintain the cohort feel. This gives students more of a chance to get to know each other as well as faculty.
“Our focus was on making sure we had the same world-class, research faculty experts teaching this program, and students will have live interactions with these faculty every single week,” DeKinder says.
Students will also have five in-person immersions – one three-day stint per semester – on campus in Austin. These allow students to meet in person, interact with the McCombs Career management team, and engage with business leaders through workshops, panels, and networking events.
“Because of the small cohort model, we have a really strong advisory council just for our MSBA program. The career management support these students are going to get is also very rare for an online program,” DeKinder says. “We’ll have a career coach dedicated just to the 65 students. Throughout their 23-month journey, they’ll have workshops, they’ll have resume reviews, they’ll learn to leverage LinkedIn and so forth. We really try to surround them with not just the academic portion of the degree, but all the other co -curricular activities.”
The program is 36 credits and students can customize their degree with pathways in supply chain or marketing analytics. Cost is $48,000 for Texas residents and $53,000 for out-of-state students.
THE BUSINESS ANALYST STUDENT PROFILE
McCombs’ MSBA targets students who have quant skills: a course in calculus, basic statistics, and a degree of proficiency in coding. Some come from a business pipeline, some from computer science or engineering. All must have great communication skills.
“If you want someone to be in charge of an analytics project, they need to elicit the right questions. They need to understand the gray areas that someone may be expressing to them. They need to keep open the communication lines with the owners of the problem and make sure that the model’s scope is appropriate to the questions that they want to answer,” Guitierrez says.
“We like to say that we want our students to be agents of positive change. Part of that is telling a compelling story through what the data is telling you.”
Plus, there’s the added benefit of being connected to Austin’s bustling business scene.
“I think being in Austin is a real advantage right now. It’s such a fun place to be, a lot of companies are moving here, there’s just a lot of excitement. That provides a lot of business opportunities for students in the analytics space in particular,” DeKinder says.
Learn more about the online MSBA for working professionals here.
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