The University’s McIntire and Darden schools will offer a new joint M.S. in Business Analytics, or MSBA, during the 2018-19 academic year. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia approved the proposal during a vote May 22, which has been in the works by the schools’ faculty since 2015 and was submitted to SCHEV in February. Subscribe to our weekly summer newsletter (will become daily when the school year starts) The new graduate program will center primarily around the role and applications of data analytics in modern business, with a special focus on emerging technologies such as data mining and business intelligence techniques. While officially located at the McIntire School of Commerce, students are able to pursue the degree in Charlottesville or in Arlington, but must complete two courses at the University in order to meet the program’s requirements. The year-long degree track is the first cooperative degree offered between the McIntire and Darden schools — a relationship praised by Joe DeFilippo, SCHEV director of Academic Affairs and Planning, as one of the program’s major strengths. “I think that those are two very strong schools that are cooperating to offer the program. The Commerce School and the Darden School those are both very nationally prominent programs,” DeFilippo said. “It’s located in Northern Virginia where there is a lot of business and high revenue organizations that will be wanting graduates with a high level of quantitative and data analytical skills that it’s providing and it’s filling a pressing demand, not just in Virginia and nationally.” Aside from an emphasis on statistics and data analysis, the degree also features a curriculum based around team and project management, communication and consultation — important skill sets in any business field. Additionally, as proficiency in information technology becomes an increasingly valuable asset in the workforce, students will also be exposed to a wide array of programming applications in their coursework — including programming and data processing languages Python and Hadoop. These concentrations speak to the primary purpose of the MSBA, which is to prepare graduates for the constantly changing and evolving job market. “Graduates of the program will be prepared for a range of career opportunities, including positions as big data analytics specialist, business analytics consultant or manager, business intelligence analyst or manager … among others,” Cyndy Huddleston, McIntire Associate Dean of Graduate Admissions and Corporate Relations, said in an email statement. DeFilippo concurred with Huddleston, saying the program will prepare students for the workforce. “There’s a lot of interest in this kind of work,” DeFilippo said. “It gives to the kind of analytical skills that organizations use to decide things like how they’re going to market their products, who they’re going to market them to, kind of their strategic vision in an era of big data.” The program also addresses a shortage of analysts and data scientists in contemporary business and industry. According to a survey by the Business Higher Education Forum cited by the program’s initial proposal, only 23 percent of college and university leaders believe their graduates have the necessary data analysis skills to succeed in a data-driven economy. This in tandem with the expanding relevance of the field itself, which the Virginia Workforce Connection forecasts will grow by 21.78 percent between 2014 and 2024. DeFilippo said the degree will help to fill this gap. “Data analytics is an important and growing subfield within business and other kinds of organizations, so they’re answering a pressing need and an interest,” DeFilippo said. The program will officially begin enrollment in August 2018 with a cumulative 30 credit hours of coursework.