Maryland Smith To Relaunch Online Business Analytics Master’s — At Half The Price

The University of Maryland Smith School of Business is relaunching its online business analytics masters.

Change is the only constant. What business school program, graduate or undergraduate, wouldn’t benefit from regular revision – a refresh every three to five years to incorporate new developments and information, not to mention instructional techniques and technology?

Most B-School programs evolve gradually over time; only a few get an actual relaunch. The Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland now shows what this looks like with its online Master of Science in Business Analytics. The Smith School has announced that its OMSBA, first introduced in 2018, is being relaunched with major changes to give students what they want most: more flexibility and shorter durations at a lower price.

That last point is crucial, says Suresh Acharya, professor of practice and academic director of the MS in Business Analytics program. The Smith OMSBA now costs about half of what it used to be. “It’s a big deal,” says Acharya Poets & Quanta. “And it makes us quite competitive with some of our Big 10 brothers: Wisconsin, Michigan State and of course Purdue.”

PROGRAM SCHEDULED TO 16 MONTHS, WITH REVENUES IN JANUARY AND AUGUST

Suresh Acharya

According to Acharya, the newly launched OMSBA program will replace the required, synchronous classroom sessions with asynchronous learning and regular live “touchpoints” with faculty. Students will use fundamental tools such as Python, R, SQL, and Tableau to build predictive analytics, data management, statistical modeling, and decision science skills that enable them to spot and interpret trends in vast amounts of business data. Course topics range from predictive analytics and big data/AI to a range of electives in marketing, finance and supply chain analytics.

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The 30-credit program will begin in the fall and spring and can be completed in just 16 months, compared to the previous 22 months. “We had a five-semester program, 22 months,” says Acharya, “and what you and I do at 22 months is we round it off and say it’s a two-year program. But working professionals may or may not feel like enrolling in a two-year program, so we’ve now shortened it to a 16-month program.”

Perhaps most importantly, it will cost about half of its original $50,000 price tag.

“We gave it a lot of thought,” says Acharya. We look at what other people are doing. And now, Obviously we are much more competitive in price.”

REDUCING “TOUCH POINTS”

Acharya says when the Smith OMSBA program started four years ago, Maryland had a “first mover advantage” because there were very few MSBA programs.

But what we soon found was that others weren’t too far behind,” he says. “It doesn’t take much time to spin off an online program. And very quickly, in this area as well, but also nationally, many more programs have actually come into being.”

Other schools — including some higher ranked than Maryland Smith — began offering business analytics masters that cost less and completed faster. But Smith’s leadership also wanted to consider student suggestions, especially when it came to personal “touchpoints.”

“We learned what our working students – the target audience for it – wanted,” says Acharya. “They learned a lot of content in our Version One program, but we wanted them to come to class once a week to learn something. And what we have found over time is that they want to learn everything themselves and only reach out when they really need help.

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“These compulsory once-a-week classes proved to be stressful for the students. Actually, it was clear that we really have to put everything we do online.”

TOP FACULTY WILL TEACH THE PROGRAM

The new Smith OMSBA faculty includes Michel Wedel, a consumer science expert and one of the top 2% of the world’s most-cited scholars and scientists; Gisela Bardossy, member of the Decision Science Institute and the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education, with expertise in statistics and quantitative methods for business decision-making; and Acharya, who spent 25 years designing and developing statistical and optimization solutions in supply chain management, retail planning, logistics, pricing and yield management and more before joining Maryland Smith in 2018.

“Michel Wedel is a renowned researcher,” says Acharya. “There are 15 faculty members at the Smith School who are in the 2% most published in the country. Michel Wedel teaches Advanced Marketing Analytics in our program, so that’s the kind of caliber we have in that one category. But we have a lot of wonderful research teachers and the students will have access to them.

“Another outstanding teacher is Gisela. She has been teaching for a long time and has won a number of awards. What I think makes her so good is that she connects so well with the students. You can be a wonderful teacher and deliver, but you also need that human connection.”

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“WE WANT YOU IN THE PROGRAM”

For prospective OMSBA students who are afraid of jumping in at the deep end and getting lost in the analytics jungle, Smith offers an opportunity to hone their core technical skills. The Analytics Bridge program of mini-courses and workshops focusing on statistical concepts, structured programming and related technology skills will take place on consecutive weekends in early January and early August, just before classes begin.

The Bridge program will help students develop the basic programming skills needed to start the program, says Acharya.

“We will allow students to write their first line of code,” he says. “So if you’ve never written code before, welcome to the Bridge program. Let’s actually write some “Hello World” Python code. Let’s write a “Hello World” R code. So let’s do this together so the professor will pick you up where you’ve already written a “for” loop when you go to class. Right? Let’s take that fear, that worry, away from you.”

Acharya says the program has a target of 50 students, and he doesn’t want those with less analytical backgrounds to be put off.

“You’ve been working for 10 years. You were a wonderful anthropologist major at Emory University, which is a wonderful school. And now try your hand at analytics. We want you in the program,” he says.

Applications for the Smith OMSBA are now open and the first cohort will begin in January 2023. For more information, visit the Smith’s Online MS in Business Analytics home page.

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