The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Programs in Business Analytics: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities

Rose Sebastianelli, University of Scranton (United States)

Nabil Tamimi, University of Scranton (United States)


As organizations in every industry face the challenge of leveraging big data for competitive advantage, the demand for talent in analytics has significantly outpaced supply.  The shortage of analytics professionals has prompted academics to develop related curricula for addressing this unmet demand.   Stanton and Stanton (2020) assessed industry needs by job title and found the highest number of advertised positions in data science, data analytics and business analytics.  This paper describes the process of developing business analytics programs, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, for both traditional and online delivery, with a focus on relevant issues, challenges and opportunities.  The undergraduate programs presented (minor, concentration, major) are designed for the traditional classroom and emphasize practical application and hands-on skills. As per Wilder and Ozgur (2015), this pedagogy prepares business school graduates to become “data-savvy managers” who can “identify and exploit opportunities” and have “sufficient functional expertise to frame business problems and interpret results” (p. 181).  At the graduate level, the MBA concentration in business analytics and the MS degree in business analytics meet different market needs and accommodate different modes of delivery (traditional and online).  The Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS) defines analytics as the scientific process of transforming data into insights for the purpose of making better decisions ( and delineates three domains (descriptive, predictive and prescriptive).  As per Paul and MacDonald (2020), the MS degree program incorporates all three domains with coursework in Descriptive Analytics (i.e., what happened: data visualization techniques), Predictive Analytics (i.e., what might happen: forecasting and statistical modeling techniques), and Prescriptive Analytics (i.e., what actions should be taken: optimization and simulation techniques). While the MBA concentration in business analytics is a general business degree, the MS degree is specialized with an emphasis on advanced techniques for analyzing structured and unstructured data to gain insights for better decision-making.  A number of issues, challenges and opportunities in curriculum design and program delivery are considered.  These include closing the gap between academic preparation and diverse industry needs; tailoring programs to meet student expectations (undergraduate vs. graduate) and modes of delivery; hiring qualified faculty given the lack of PhD programs in business analytics; and deriving benefits from STEM designation.   

Keywords Business Analytics, Undergraduate, Graduate, Online, Traditional


[1] Paul, J.A. & MacDonald, L. (2020).  Analytics Curriculum for Undergraduate and Graduate Students.  Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 18(1), 22-58.
[2] Stanton, W.W. & D’Auria Stanton, A. (2020).  Helping Business Students Acquire the Skills Needed for a Career in Analytics:  A Comprehensive Industry Assessment of Entry-Level Requirements.  Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 18(1), 138-165.
[3] Wilder, C.R. & Ozgur, C.O. (2015).  Business Analytics Curriculum for Undergraduate Majors.  INFORMS Transactions in Education, 15(2), 180-187.

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