With the increasing interest in Big Data and Analytics, business schools are becoming more and more eager to explore the future of the field by offering relevant courses on the topic. In April, Ross School of Business (US) announced that their Full-time MBA programme will feature a concentration in Business Data and Analytics as of the 2018 autumn semester.

According to the school, the concentration is designed for professionals who wish to hone their analytical skills and develop data-driven business strategies and recommendations. The project was initiated in 2017 when the Michigan Ross MBA programme assessed feedback from students who expressed their preference for a more specialised concentration focused on Big Data.

Heather Byrne, Director of the Michigan Ross Career Development Office, identified this as an opportunity for business professionals to explore what the field has to offer. She also added: “Companies want individuals who can lead their organisations using data and thinking analytically. Our goal is to prepare students to explore career options in which they can apply these skills, and help companies source exceptionally qualified talent.”

Read: How the Digital Era Is Reshaping the MBA Experience

How is the MBA programme going to prepare participants for a career in the field?

According to Marc Ethier from Poets&Quants, Michigan Ross students who opt for this concentration will be required to take courses from a wide array of options. Examples include big data management, marketing research, marketing engineering, advanced big data analysis, data mining, digital marketing, mobile innovation development, and information econometrics.

The associate dean of Full-time and Global MBA programmes at Ross School of Business, Brad Killaly, also elaborated: “We’ve developed the Data and Business Analytics Concentration to meet the needs of today’s MBA student as well as today’s evolving business world. As students continue to seek careers in data-intensive industries, such as consulting and technology, Michigan Ross will offer the necessary business acumen that students can utilise to give themselves a competitive edge.”

The new concentration is not a great surprise in the MBA world considering the latest employment trends from major MBA recruiters such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Poets&Quants also note that Michigan Ross has designed the concentration as a set of coursework that works particularly well in combination with the school’s “Action-based Learning” approach. “[It] will prepare students to solve pressing challenges in high-pressure environments even when they must work with imperfect data sets,” says Mr Ethier.

More B-schools embrace data science and analytics

Ross School of Business is certainly not the only US higher education institution that has recently jumped on the data and analytics train. In 2017, Harvard Business School (US) announced its new certificate in business analytics, which launched in March 2018. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (US) launched majors in analytics for Bachelor’s students and MBA students two years ago.

In addition, Poets&Quants point out that the embrace of data science has been well documented and evidenced in recent survey data. A Kaplan poll from 2017 found that 72% of the surveyed schools offer at least one course in “data science or big data”, while another 13% do not currently offer courses in data science but “are considering offering it”.

Read: A Close Look at the MBA Curriculum

Students who are interested in exploring other MBA specialisations at Michigan Ross can take a look at their concentration in Business and Sustainability and Healthcare Management, a certificate in Real Estate Development, a Fast Track in Finance, and the Tauber Institute programme in Operations.