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Duke Fuqua Just Launched An Analytics Degree — As Amazon, Google Scramble For Big Data Talent

Announcement marks latest push into big data by Ivy League institutions

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business has launched a data analytics masters degree, as demand surges for business managers who can interpret and action insight from big data.

Fuqua’s announcement marks the latest push into big data by Ivy League institutions, which are scrambling to offer courses on one of the hottest skills sought by companies from McKinsey to Google.

“We are hearing first-hand from employers who are looking for people who can sort through data quickly and identify and communicate key insights,” Bill Boulding, dean of Fuqua, said. “Employers are telling us the skill-set is in short supply.”

The 10-month program, Master of Quantitative Management, is designed for college graduates with strong quantitative skills but little to no work experience. Most candidates will likely have backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math.

MQM, which will start in July 2017, will offer students one of four tracks: finance, marketing, business analytics or forensics.

The launch comes as companies, such as Amazon, Google, and Apple, are scrambling to hire business school graduates with data analytics skills. Accenture, the consultancy, forecasts a 40% gap between supply and demand for data science talent by 2018.

David Taylor, chief executive of Procter & Gamble, said: “These are the kind of candidates that P&G and many other Fortune 100 companies seek out. The candidates’ skill-set applies to a wide range of functions and enables them to contribute at all levels.”

Fuqua’s announcement comes as its competitors roll out big data content. Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania in March launched an MBA major in business analytics. The same month, MIT’s Sloan School of Management rolled out a data analytics masters degree. And in April, Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management began teaching a big data course to MBAs with Lutz Finger, LinkedIn’s analytics chief.

“It’s so important for business schools to have programs like this, in order to train professionals from different backgrounds to become data scientists,” said Juan José, a former head of IBM Strategy & Analytics, who runs IE Business School’s business analytics masters. “There is a demand for big data expertise.”

The charge into analytics also comes as MBAs, who once overwhelmingly aspired to finance careers and particularly in investment banking, switch to tech.

At Harvard Business School in 2007, 13% of graduates went into investment banking or trading. Last year, just 5% did. Meanwhile 20% are flocking to tech, up from 7% before the financial crisis.

“It has become very attractive to work in the technology sector,” said Phil Han, director of recruiting operations at UCLA Anderson School of Management, whose top employers include Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.

“These companies continue to grow and constantly change and innovate, which are the types of the challenges that high-caliber MBAs are seeking.”

These Silicon Valley companies are leading the big data revolution. “Data is their business. It's the growth path for all of them,” said Vasant Dhar, NYU Stern professor of business and data science, and editor of the Big Data journal.

“The advice I give students these days is to take as many courses as possible that require working with real data,” he added.

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