The Kenan-Flagler Business School has good news for MBA students looking to gain a STEM-based competitive edge in the job market — it recently added a concentration to its MBA program for Business Analytics and Management Science.
The concentration offers students the ability to understand analytics and translate them to a business context, and offers students greater post-graduation flexibility.
Rajdeep Grewal, the Townsend Family Distinguished Professor of Marketing and area chairperson of marketing at Kenan-Flagler, said many MBA programs across the country have adopted or are working to adopt a STEM-designated concentration.
“We are a little bit behind some of the top schools that we compete with,” Grewal said. “The designation gives the students a leg up because they can show that they are more technically trained and certified.”
Grewal said the business world is changing as it becomes more digital, social-media based and data driven.
“We have more data today in the business world than we ever have, and it’s coming at a faster pace,” he said. “And managing that data is much better than managing without data, so the students need to have those skills.”
Bradley Staats, associate dean of MBA programs at Kenan-Flagler, said the new concentration is an appreciation of the need for business analytics content from MBA students. The concentration isn’t preparing students to become Ph.D.-level analysts, he said — rather, it gives them the ability to understand analytics and apply them in a business setting.
“If we look at what students are looking for, if we look at what employers are looking for, it’s both understanding analytics and then translating it to a business context,” Staats said.
Staats said he works with many companies around the world who are increasingly frustrated they don’t have the analytical capabilities that they need. These companies might hire an analyst, he said, but they quickly find that they can’t plug that person in with the rest of the organization.
“So I think that as we look at the BAMS concentration, Business Analytics and Management Science, we see that one, it offers analytical rigor,” Staats said. “And two, it offers that translation or that ability to speak between the analytics and business domain where its being applied.”
Aside from giving students a new skillset in the job market, the concentration offers a particular benefit to international students like Karan Gupta, an MBA student graduating this spring — an extended STEM-related work VISA.
“And that is quite a bit of difference for people who are going into marketable jobs who have just finished a two-year, very intense and very expensive degree and then would like to kind of recover some of the benefits by working in the U.S. and kind of making that work experience,” Gupta said.
Gupta said that prior to the creation of the concentration, students were getting the skills through the same courses.
“So far, the STEM concentration hasn’t created a new course out of itself,” he said. “These are kind of a bunch of different electives pulled together into a concentration and not a major.”
Staats also said the concentration offers a new label for the academic requirements and courses that existed prior to its creation.
“We had this depth and this rigor in our existing coursework, but we hadn’t really put it together in a pathway that allowed students to signify their skillset and what they were doing,” he said.
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