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The Online Master of Science in Business Analytics
Data science and analytics comprise the modern language that is helping to direct the future of business. The data scientists and business leaders who understand this language, and who can render its fundamental patterns into actionable insights, have a unique power to redefine corporate strategies, enhance agility and improve profitability.
At William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business, we offer an Online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) that is designed to help pioneering professionals embrace the power of data analytics and evolve their expertise in business.
You're More Than a Test Score
Visit our application requirements page to see how we evaluate prospective Online MSBA students holistically with no GMAT or GRE scores required.
Gain a Competitive Advantage
William & Mary faculty designed our online master of science in business analytics program with a singular goal in mind: to give you an unmatched competitive advantage in the workplace. Our master’s program blends the technical rigor you expect from a graduate analytics program at a top-ranked university with the strategic business insights you need to communicate productively with stakeholders.
As Faculty Director Joe Wilck says, “It is not enough to just know business analytics methodologies. You and your organization need problem solvers who can take data from chaos to clarity.”
Our expert faculty—terminal degree holders who have worked in cybersecurity, information technology, telecommunications, healthcare, marketing, manufacturing, oil and gas, and the Department of Defense—weave the theme of business intelligence and analytics throughout the online program. You will learn about the value of big data and the ethics of working with algorithms as well as how to manage teams, communicate solutions and steer data-driven decision-making.
The concept of business intelligence and analytics is introduced prominently in our core course BUAD 5112 Competing Through Business Analytics. In this course, you will learn how to:
- Integrate analytics into business processes
- Visually convey insights from complex data sets in a straightforward, digestible way
- Identify the most difficult and time-consuming steps of business processes
- Create graphs with Python programs using the Matplotlib package
- Create an analytics presentation with graphs you have created
- Program two heuristic algorithms in Python
- Web scrape
This course, and the master’s program as a whole, will challenge you to synthesize your technical and strategic learnings so you can champion the importance of business analytics at any company.
This program was designed in conjunction with our advisory board, with the mindset of what does industry need. Other programs may have technical courses, but I feel like our courses are taught by faculty that are very strong technically that translates into very rigorous experience in the classroom as far as using these techniques and understanding what lies underneath it.
The professional workforce is moving more towards a tech centric and a data centric environment. And so having skills where you can code an R on Python, and also develop on visualizations using Tableau, and managing data using Alteryx, and optimizing models using the Gurobi are very useful in the current state of the art mentality. However, our curriculum goes beyond that. We give you a foundation in those skills, but also in the knowledge so that as those softwares change, you'll be ready and you'll be a lifelong learner, but also lifetime relevant in the field.
The ability to take this program online allows us to draw a diverse set of students that bring different industry and different work experiences in different educational backgrounds to the table. It basically raises the level of the conversation. It's very much more professional. It's very much more, "How can I apply this to my business? And "Oh, that worked in your business. Well now, let's apply it to my business and see how that will work." It just raises the maturity. It raises the skills. It raises the thought for how we can compete through business analytics.
What Our Students Say
In Competing Through Business Analytics, we developed essential skills—the ability to visualize data and to use it to persuade clients—that would serve us in class, our eventual jobs and, more pertinently, our job interviews.
From Data to Insight: Behind Our Curriculum
William & Mary's Online MSBA program is designed to maximize your computing and modeling skills while honing your ability to apply data science to strategic business planning and business decision making. The program curriculum revolves around four dynamic pillars, and mastery of these pillars helps ensure that you graduate with a tangible advantage in a high-demand field, where opportunities are growing across industries and around the globe.
Explore the learning outcomes of these four pillars:
- Business Acumen: Solve business problems while considering the critical needs of the business and its existing processes, strategy, and organization; share results ethically with respect to customer and client confidentiality
- Math Modeling: Build technical skills as you develop algorithms that solve problems with speed and accuracy, select appropriate methodologies to solve a problem, and construct error-free models and analyses
- Computing Technologies: Program effectively in R and Python, use data wrangling to cleanse data and render it more effective in solving business problems, and effectively manage databases
- Communicating With Impact: Create and deliver digestible presentations and business data visualizations to audiences less familiar with the intricacies of analytical processes
These business analytics skills will guide you in asking the right questions, building the right models and using those models to perform the right analyses. The resulting insights, when appropriately interpreted and communicated, will give you the means to transform business outcomes by telling the right story, in the right way.
The Online MSBA program pushed me to technical and academic achievements far beyond those I would have ever thought myself capable of reaching. Computer vision is a perfect example of a skill that most MSBA programs don’t cover, and a way in which William & Mary stands out at the absolute top of the pack.
Online MSBA Courses Overview
At the intersection of our four pillars—business acumen, math modeling, computing technologies and communicating with impact—are the talents and advanced tools every data scientist may need for a successful and profitable career in business analytics. Our business analytics curriculum prepares you to master exactly these.
Our 32-credit curriculum can be broken down into the following three types of courses:
- 2 prerequisite courses
- 1 pre-program course worth 0 credits
- 8 core courses, worth a total of 32 credits
Prerequisite Courses (8 credits)*
BUAD 512A: Probability and Statistics with R (4 credits)
BUAD 512B: Business Modeling with Python (4 credits)
Pre-Program Courses (0 credits)
Excel Boot Camp (0 credits)
Core MSBA Courses (32 credits)
BUAD 5112: Competing Through Business Analytics (4 credits)
BUAD 5052: Decision Modeling (4 credits)
BUAD 5772: Database and Data Warehouses for Business Intelligence (4 credits)
BUAD 5122: Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics (4 credits)
BUAD 5092: Optimization and Prescriptive Analytics
BUAD 5132: Big Data and Cloud Computing Technologies (4 credits)
BUAD 5802: Artificial Intelligence Applications for Business (4 credits)
BUAD 5762: Business Analytics Capstone Project (4 credits)
*Note: BUAD 512A and 512B are prerequisites for the remainder of the program. Students may be able to satisfy these prerequisites with courses from other sources, and they should inquire about their eligibility during the admission and onboarding process if they wish to do so.
So companies all have data, but what they need is information. So what we teach in the MSBA is how to take that data, clean it, process it, analyze it, and then tell the story that's behind that data.
So one of the projects that we do in my database and data visualization class has to do with Medicare claim. And we take these claims and we try to understand 30-day readmissions. So we organize and clean the data that wasn't created with the purpose of figuring out 30-day readmissions, it was created with the idea of billing. But we take that data and we organize it, we calculate what a 30-day readmission looks like, which patients were admitted after 30 days, and then we do data visualizations to try to figure out patterns in those readmissions with the goal of hoping hospitals minimize those readmissions.
One of the examples of how we bring business back into the curriculum, in the machine learning courses, we spend a lot of time talking about recommender systems. Recommender systems are all around us, whether it's Amazon telling you, "Add this to your cart since you have these other things in your cart," plus your prior purchase history, or whether it's LinkedIn saying, "Connect with this person because they're a friend of a friend," or whether it's Netflix telling you to watch this movie.
Now we've all experienced recommender systems as customers, how can we use those and how can we build those so that they can be taking that data very quickly and then analyzing it very quickly so that within one second, we can provide that back to the customer. We can tell them, "Hey, buy this," or "Link up with this person." That's what we cover in the machine learning class and that's relevant to all businesses.
Many of our faculty come from an engineering or STEM background. And in many of those types of programs you have a Capstone Project that culminates the end of your education, whether at the undergraduate level or at the master's level. So for us, it seemed natural to have a capstone project, to showcase the student's abilities from start to finish. Finding the business problem, setting goals, exploring the data, setting up a system to collect the appropriate data, developing models, using programming and other techniques they learned in the program. Then actually coming up with ways to visualize those findings and then make recommendations and hopefully deliver value. The Capstone course and the Capstone Project provide that opportunity to the student to do that with a real world client and get real world feedback. It's a resume booster, just a way to show that you are a data science and business analytics professional.
The Online Business Analytics Program at a Glance
- Complete in as few as 15 months**
- 100% online
- No residency or on-campus requirement
- 3 starts per year: August, January and May
- Earn your master’s degree from a prestigious business school
- Study with our faculty of industry experts
**Students who are required to complete the prerequisite courses can graduate in as few as 18 months.
The Workplace Value of the Online Master’s in Business Analytics Degree
I consider the MSBA to be the MBA of the 21st century. Many professionals today have the technical aptitude, and then there are other professionals that have the communications aptitude. But it's the combination of those two skills that is really lacking in today's industry. And that is what our degree is trying to provide. Someone who can do the business acumen and communicate that value, but also has the technical skills to develop that value. We call those unicorns. And in the data science and business analytics field, that is what we're trying to produce.
What's great about the MSBA at William & Mary, is that it sits at the intersection of critical thinking, problem solving, and data analytics. And that's the sweet spot that I think employers are looking for. It's not enough that you have the skills to analyze data, but you also have to know what to do with it and what it leads to. And we live in a world or a sea of data, you could go many paths. But how do you land on those things that are important? And that's where critical thinking and problem solving comes in.
So our program is unique in that we have two courses in machine learning, a course in artificial intelligence, a course in optimization, a course in databases, and follow on courses for our capstone. Most programs teach you R and Python as part of the curriculum. We require it before you get to the curriculum. So we're able to take you further technically, but also that allows us to actually show you how to use these skills in a business sense. These skills can help you at any point of the company, whether you're at the analyst role, the manager role, or the executive role.
So in today's world, almost everything is data-driven. It's no surprise that the largest companies in the world right now are data companies. Amazon is a data company. Google is a data company. Facebook is a data company. So companies are now having to make their decisions based on data.
Our program is designed to be relevant for a number of different people, whether you're someone who is a seasoned professional, but you're looking to transition into a data science or a business analytics role, so you're just looking to add that technical expertise onto you're already well-established business acumen. For someone who does not have a lot of experience, but realizes they want to be in that technical role, so they're trying to get a master's degree to kind of get a seat at the table if you will. Then there's another group where they're looking to be a manager or a leader, and perhaps they already have an MBA, but they need more technical expertise to help drive and deliver value for their business and to manage their teams.
We are teaching you skills and knowledge and a foundation that will not only help you in the job market, but also help your company on the stock market.
Today’s corporate leaders are increasingly challenged to find qualified employees who understand data analytics and have proven experience applying its key business functions. Those who could fill this need must be familiar with unstructured data dumps, machine learning, data visualization tools and current analytics tools, but they must also be able to interpret the information acquired through these means and effectively communicate its implication(s) for the organization's bottom line.
By weaving our curriculum's four key pillars of business acumen, math modeling, computing technologies and communicating with impact into each of our Online MSBA courses, we blend the essential elements of business expertise with a robust portfolio of data science offerings. The result is a dynamic program with real-world applicability that ensures our students graduate with a thorough understanding of how to effectively apply their findings and communicate their insights in a succinct, coherent manner.
WHAT OUR STUDENTS SAY
What brought me back to school was kind of looking at the changing landscape, professionally. I didn’t want to be pigeonholed into computer science or statistics, strictly one of those two, nor did I feel like the general approach of an MBA was right for me either. I like the intersection of the two, which is what led me to business analytics. There are a lot of possibilities.
Meet Our First Online MSBA Cohort
William & Mary’s Online MSBA program welcomed its first cohort in spring 2018, and we quickly discovered that our student demographics mirrored the personal and professional diversity that is common in the fields of technology, data analytics and programming. While some of our current students have highly technical backgrounds, others come from financial, educational and even military ones. They represent varied sociocultural contexts and reside in geographic locations across the country. It is telling, then, that our program has managed to meet each of these driven individuals where they are, and that they’ve found it able to help them advance their technical and managerial development.
Take a look at the story told by our cohort demographics, and consider what you could learn not only from our master os science in business analytics program curriculum and faculty but also from such a diverse cohort of peers.
Not interested in our Online MSBA? Check our our one-year residential MSBA program..
A Closer Look at Cohort No.1
- 30% U.S. minorities
- 15% W&M alumni
- 5 average years of work experience
- 3.3 average undergraduate GPA (on a 4.0 scale)
- 62% ages 26-45
- 15% work in educational services
- 15% work in financial services
- 15% work in technology
NOTE: Statistics are based on cumulative self-reported W&M Online MSBA student profile data collected from the spring 2018 cohort.
I want to...
What skills will you acquire in the online master’s in business analytics program?
- Querying relational databases using SQL
- Performing extract, transform, load (ETL) processes
- Building data warehouses
- Preparing data for analysis using data wrangling techniques
- Managing data using services such as Hadoop, Amazon Web Services and NoSQL
- Creating data visualizations and dashboards with Tableau
- Performing descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analyses
- Utilizing basic methodologies like regression, logistic regression, time-series analysis, Bayesian methods, etc.
- Deploying a broad array of machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques
- Constructing and executing prescriptive optimization models
- Analyzing data with statistical software including R
- Writing computer programs in Python and R
- Designing, programming and implementing heuristic algorithms in Python
- Conducting simulation analyses
- Distilling strategic insight from analyses and communicating it persuasively
Interested in Our Online Programs?
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- Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/college-of-william-and-mary-OBUS0134/business
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- Retrieved August 22, 2018, from pwc.com/us/en/library/data-science-and-analytics.html
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