For the first time since its accreditation in 2002, the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management has added a new concentration to its undergraduate curriculum: business analytics, which will become the school’s 11th concentration starting this spring.
Business analytics, which was approved Oct. 9 at a faculty meeting, will be a 15-credit concentration, featuring courses from the School of Hotel Administration and the computer science department in addition to Dyson courses.
Prof. Donna Haeger, applied economics and management, said companies are looking for these skills given the rise of big data and analytics, and business analytics is being “leveraged more and more on a daily basis” in the corporate world.
“I felt it was imperative for undergraduates to have this concentration,” said Haeger, who spearheaded the campaign to develop the new concentration. “They should be hitting the ground running. They should have these skills rather than having to earn an MBA.”
Dale Grossman, senior lecturer and Dyson undergraduate advising coordinator, echoed Haeger’s sentiments, acknowledging that business analytics has fast become more relevant in the industry.
“Over the years it’s become increasingly clear that there are issues in oversimplifying the ‘big data’ thing,” she said. “There was a niche we could fill. And that’s what led to the development of this concentration.”
Given that the school’s original concentrations have remained consistent up until this point, Grossman called the business analytics concentration “a radical change” for the school.
Students such as Zech Hintz ’17, who has worked extensively with Haeger over the last two years, say they welcome this change. Hintz said the industry now “expects” this skillset from its workers, and Dyson students will benefit in the long run from this addition.
“This is the right step for Dyson,” he said. “When students get this information, it’s really going to set them apart from other students across the country.”
As an example of the new concentration’s practicality, Grossman referenced a student who wants to double major in economics and computer science in order to develop computer programs to trade stocks. Previously, the student could not attain this skillset in the Dyson school, but now, with the business analytics concentration, Grossman said, “that may be exactly what he can do.”
In a process that started last December, a small faculty committee led by Haeger engaged in numerous meetings and conversations as well as research to pinpoint what was necessary to make the concentration the best it could be. The committee’s preliminary proposal went through several rounds of voting, including through the Dyson Undergraduate Council and Dyson faculty.
Haeger cited these voting processes as crucial to the concentration’s development, as the committee often received valuable feedback to improve the proposal.
“We never thought [the proposal] wouldn’t go through, but we did end up revisiting it to make sure it that it was exactly right,” Haeger said. “We tried to be painstakingly accurate.”
While demand from the industry certainly played a role in influencing this campaign, Grossman and Haeger said feedback from students and alumni was crucial as well. Grossman said alumni in the working world have expressed regret over lacking these skills, while Haeger said that her interaction with students influenced her.
“One of the reasons I really championed this was because I am exposed to the freshmen and sophomores every year, and they really wanted this concentration,” Haeger said.
Hintz applauded the school’s receptiveness to student input and the growing importance of business analytics.
“That’s what every business school does,” Hintz said. “They change and transform to what the industry needs and what the students want.”
Correction: A previous headline for this story incorrectly stated that the Dyson School would be offering a new business analytics minor. In fact, business analytics is a new concentration within Dyson.