Penn State launches online master’s degree in data analytics

New degree to help prepare professionals for needed jobs in data analysis

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In the era of big data, social media, machine sensors, smartphones and other technology generate vast amounts of information on a daily basis. However, the number of people with the technical skills to analyze large volumes of unstructured data and put them to use remains low.

The McKinsey Institute estimates that the United States alone could face a shortage of as many as 190,000 people with analytical expertise and 1.5 million managers who can make decisions based on big data analysis.

A new online graduate degree offered through Penn State World Campus can help prepare people to be database designers and business analysts to meet the growing need for these jobs. The 30-credit master of professional studies in data analytics degree consists of a data analytics base program and a business analytics option.

“As a society, we’re seeing data being generated at rates like never before, and the data are being stored in formats we’re not used to using, such as Twitter feeds or web profiles,” said Colin Neill, an associate professor of software and systems engineering and the director of engineering programs at the Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies. “Our new program aims to help solve the onslaught of big data by training the people who can create the infrastructure necessary to mine this vast amount of information.”

Applications are being accepted for admission in Penn State’s spring 2016 semester.

In the base program, students will learn about data management technologies and techniques for descriptive, prescriptive and predictive analytics. Graduates can pursue jobs in data mining, data modeling, data architecture, business intelligence development and more.

In the business analytics option, students will learn to analyze large data sets for market needs and to make data-driven business decisions. This track is aimed at business analysts, data scientists and analytic system designers.

All students will complete a capstone project that will focus on a problem relevant to their chosen track.

Penn State faculty from the Smeal College of Business, College of Engineering and Great Valley campus will teach the courses online. World Campus will provide the online delivery of the program.

“The data analytics program was designed to help the students become experts in handling large and complex data sets so they can take advantage of the forecasted career growth in this field,” said David Sylvia, director of academic affairs for graduate programs at Penn State World Campus. “They can accomplish this goal with the convenience of balancing their education with their work and family commitments.”

World Campus also offers a standalone nine-credit online graduate certificate in business analytics. Students who complete the certificate and are accepted to the master’s degree program can apply the credits toward the degree.

For more information about the programs, visit the data analytics website.


Mike Dawson

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