Newswise — A Montgomery College student cohort has embarked this fall on a unique pathway to a Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) degree from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business to meet a growing demand for the likes of operations researchers, data analysts, business analysts, analytics directors and chief analytics officers. 

Twenty-three of 50 students in this Smith master’s track already are declared majors under the Rockville, Md.-based community college’s new Associate of Arts in Business Analytics program.

Pending admission to Smith’s undergraduate and master's programs, students will complete the undergraduate major in Operations Management and Business Analytics followed by the MSBA.

“It’s a very clear and defined pathway to the Smith School,” says Montgomery College (MC) Accounting Coordinator and Business Analytics Advisor Kathryn Klose, PhD. “The program grounds students in general business courses, including economics and accounting, and builds essential skills in business analytics, statistics, scripting in programming language, data visualization, and applied decision-making.”

The “2+2+1” track is structured for students to complete the master’s portion in one year, following two years each at the associate and undergraduate levels through which master’s level credits are accumulated.

The curriculum engages students in using Excel, R, Tableau, and SQL in business analytics to summarize, visualize and analyze data. And “a project-based capstone will provide students with the opportunity to prepare and present comprehensive analyses related to real-world cases in major business functions such as operations, finance and accounting, marketing, and human resources,” says Klose.

Ethics are also woven throughout the sequence of courses to reinforce the ethical handling of data in decision-making, adds Klose, who designed the track with Montgomery College Associate Professor of Math, Statistics, and Data Science Rachel Saidi and Smith Professor of the Practice and MSBA Academic Director Suresh Acharya.

“We took a very market-driven approach,” says Acharya, noting (according to Coursera-reported U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data) that business analyst jobs – collectively with those for management analysts and operations analysts – are on track for growth up to 25% by 2030. Much of this growth, he adds, is expected in the Washington, D.C. area, including Montgomery County. In addition, “advanced analyst” is among the country’s fastest-growing roles, according to Burning Glass Technologies’ “After the Storm: The Jobs and Skills that will Drive the Post-Pandemic Recovery” (released in February 2021).

The degree path’s uniqueness also has drawn a statewide designation that will further help the initiative keep pace with the market’s growth. The designation enables students outside Montgomery County to enroll in the program at the in-county tuition rate, contingent on their county or local college not offering or limiting enrollment in a similar degree."

For more information, go to the Montgomery College Associate of Arts in Business Analytics and UMD Smith Master of Science in Business Analytics homepages.