By Julie Lineback
Data has become an essential part of modern life, and the ability to analyze it effectively has become increasingly crucial. Ever on the cusp of both emerging trends and advancements in existing fields, the University of West Georgia has addressed this need by launching a new master’s degree in applied business analytics, offered through the Richards College of Business.
“There’s a demand to improve businesses across the entire country, and nearly every job requires some sort of data analysis,” said Dr. Christopher Johnson, dean of the Richards College of Business. “We view this new business analytics program as supplying a critical piece in developing a skill set that will be increasingly important for businesses in the future.”
As the first cohort prepares to start classes in the fall semester, the curriculum – tailored to meet the needs of today’s businesses – is designed to provide students with the skills, knowledge and expertise needed to become the next generation of data analysts, namely in areas of data management, analysis and visualization. It will also address an unmet demand for data analysts and related careers.
“We are witnessing unprecedented growth in the use of data in all aspects of society,” explained Dr. Adrian Austin, program director. “As a result, the demand for skilled professionals who can harness the power of data and use it to drive decision-making has never been higher.”
According to the Georgia Department of Labor’s long-term occupational projections, there will be an average of 5,420 annual job openings. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for data scientists is expected to grow at 36 percent over the next decade – much higher than average.
“Data analytics is on the cutting edge of business,” Austin continued. “I’m excited that we will provide students with the opportunity to work with advanced analytics software, machine learning algorithms and other tools that are transforming the way businesses operate.”
The master’s degree supplements the undergraduate program by offering students a deeper understanding of data analysis, helping them become more analytical and data-driven in their approach to problem solving and decision making. It will incorporate specific technical skills including knowledge of programming languages, such as Python and R. Upon completion of the program, graduates will have a competitive market advantage and be well-positioned for a multitude of career opportunities.
“In addition to data intelligence, the new degree leverages strengths across colleges at UWG to offer a variety of courses to suit different interests,” Austin added, noting there will be a focus on real-world scenarios that will give students the opportunity to apply their skills to actual business problems. “This is the only program in the region that will offer tracks in healthcare analytics and sports analytics, which combines courses in the Richards College of Business with those in the Tanner Health System School of Nursing and the College of Education, respectively.”
Incoming UWG graduate student Taiwo Onyekwuluje transferred from the MBA program to the analytics program in his effort to pursue a career in business analysis and project management.
“I made the switch because of the technical course content for this program,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to take a STEM-designated program that will equip me with in-demand skills, so now that it’s available, the timing is right.”
Time was of the essence also for UWG alumna Esther Makandah ’23, who enrolled in the new program after receiving her MBA last month.
“UWG has the best supportive professors who are willing to go the extra mile to see students succeed in academics,” she concluded. “Having this additional degree ensures I can achieve my goals as a senior business analyst who makes smart, data-driven decisions for the mutual benefit of the organizations I will be working for – and for myself.”
For more information or to apply for the program, visit the Richards College of Business website.