Harpur College, the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and the School of Management have come together to collaborate on a new graduate degree program, the Master of Science in Data Analytics (MSDA).
The 30-credit program will start in summer 2019 and runs for one year in a summer, fall and spring course sequence. Though it touches on a variety of topics, they all fall under the umbrella of data analytics, a process of collecting and modeling data to inform decision-making and generate conclusions in fields including business and science.
Because each of the schools contains courses in the field of data analytics, but with different approaches, the University decided on a cross-disciplinary approach.
The groundwork for the program was established in the Transdisciplinary Area of Excellence (TAE) in data science, a central hub for research in which data scientists from across many fields can use their varying knowledge to collaborate on solving societal issues. With this new program, students can also be involved in the research.
Upinder Dhillon, dean of the School of Management, is confident in the program’s future success.
“[The program] will prepare students from diverse backgrounds with the analytical, quantitative, technical and leadership skills needed for successful careers in data analysis,” Dhillon wrote in an email.
Brand-new courses are currently being developed specifically for the program, which will also include electives and two practicums.
The five core courses focus on ensuring students have firm grasps of the most important topics within data analytics, including data mining, machine learning, modeling and databases, while the electives give them room to explore areas of applications. This mix aims to give students a well-rounded skill set, preparing them for careers within data analytics.
Students can choose three electives, which include customer analytics, web data management, decision-making within an uncertain business environment and information retrieval within data structures.
Faculty members come from all three schools, with mostly computer and systems science professors from the Watson School, mathematics professors from Harpur College and marketing and finance professors within the School of Management. One of these professors is Manoj Agarwal, professor of marketing and the program director, who led the development of the program from the start.
“The program will leverage the insights of the best Binghamton University has to offer in the field of data science, ensuring our students have a balanced and wide-ranging education in data analytics,” Agarwal wrote in an email.
In the two practicums, students collaborate with real-world organizations to test their classroom knowledge with hands-on application, using real data to solve real-world problems, which Agarwal said is the most exciting part of the program.
“The part that excites me most about this program is the hands-on projects that will happen in the practicums,” Agarwal wrote. “Students will have the opportunity to put their skills to the test, allowing them to understand the material through the framework of problem-solving. This kind of experiential learning is invaluable.”
Demand for the program inspired its creation, with data-related classes in all three schools consistently filling up quickly. Outside of the classroom, students are getting involved in data-related activities such as the Data Science and Analytics club and HackBU, a club where students learn web and mobile development and participate in hackathons, where they team up to create technological projects. The increase in data analytics programs in other graduate schools was also a factor for its development.
Jennifer Wandner, a junior double-majoring in accounting and business administration, finds the program’s development to be relevant to the current economic landscape.
“Personally, I’m doing a masters in accounting so I won’t be doing the data analytics one,” Wandner said. “But I do think that [the program] is interesting because it’s the new and up-coming thing companies are looking for now.”