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Mike Galbreth, Professor and Department Head, Business Analytics & Statistics from the University of Tennessee, joins us today to discuss their Master’s of Science in Business Analytics program.

1. Can you tell us about the business analytics program offered at the University of Tennessee? *

The Master’s of Science in Business Analytics program in the Haslam College of Business at UTK develops a student’s technical acumen, with an emphasis on working with large, real-world datasets, as well as developing business fundamentals and soft skills including leadership, teamwork, and oral presentations. Our students graduate with both the ability to generate data-driven insights and to articulate how those insights can be leveraged to benefit the organization. In their final semester, students work in teams to solve a real problem for one of our industry partners in their capstone project. Students communicate with company executives throughout the project, presenting their findings at the end of the semester.

2. Is the GMAT & GRE required for acceptance into the program? Do international students have the same requirement? *

GRE or GMAT scores are required from all applicants regardless of previous experience. No preference is given to either test. We do not have a minimum score requirement for the GRE or GMAT; however, students best-suited for our program typically perform well above-average on the quantitative portion. International students also have the same GRE/GMAT requirements.

3. How long does a typical business analytics program take at the University of Tennessee? What is the maximum and minimum time of completion? *

The MSBA program at UTK takes three semesters to complete. The program goes through fall and spring semesters, followed by a summer internship and a final fall semester, with graduation in December. Students can enroll part-time but must be able to attend classes during the day on the UTK campus, since hands-on work with MSBA faculty is a key component of the program. A typical part-time student will take up to three years to graduate, depending on how many courses they can take each semester.

4. What do you think makes the University of Tennessee business analytics program stand out from other programs offered by similar schools in your region? *

The MSBA program at the University of Tennessee received the 2018 INFORMS UPS George D. Smith Prize, which is awarded annually to the academic program that best prepares their students to be good practitioners of analytics. Our MSBA program brings together a focus on soft skills training with an agile, industry-focused analytical curriculum that prepares students to hit the ground running upon graduation. Our continually evolving curriculum draws upon state-of-the-art theoretical and practical content from the fields of statistics, machine learning, and operations research. Students focus on real-world problems and managing complexity with teamwork. All students are given the opportunity to generate real value for industry clients through our capstone projects. In addition to deep industry experience, the program builds strong technical expertise and the communications skills that bridge data analysis and data-informed decision making in a meaningful way. As the first master’s degree in analytics launched by a business college, our program truly connects students to the business world.

5. How important would you say accreditation is when choosing a business analytics program? *

University accreditation is a sign that a school is recognized as providing a quality education. My sense is that employers who receive applications from individuals who graduated from non-accredited schools may question the quality of that education.

6. What are the advantages of earning a business analytics degree in general and where are you seeing employer demand with this degree? *

Businesses understand that they must have people in their organizations who know how to use data to generate intelligence that can move the business forward. This need for data-savvy managers is increasing at a very fast pace as more businesses realize that to be competitive in this era they must become more data-driven. This is true in virtually every industry.

7. Does the University of Tennessee offer job placement for students who graduate with a business analytics degree? *

Our university has a career team devoted to providing one-on-one help to each of our MSBA students during the job search process. We work with each MSBA student on interviewing skills, hold annual job fairs, and invite our MSBA students to attend our annual Business Analytics Forum, where they can meet and interact with many of our employers.

8. What type of financial aid packages are available for students in business analytics? Are there any fellowships, grants, and scholarships available? *

There are merit-based graduate assistantships available for all MSBA applicants. These do not require a separate application.

9. Do you have any advice for students enrolling in a business analytics program at your University of Tennessee? *

The coursework is rigorous and each student will graduate with a highly valuable and marketable skill set. Because of the rigor of the program, students should only apply if they enjoy statistics and programming. In order to be successful in this challenging curriculum, students should be able to code using a programming language of their choice and have a solid foundation in calculus.

10. What do you enjoy most about your position at the University of Tennessee? *

The thing I enjoy most about my job is being a part of the students’ transformational journeys. Each year we watch the new cohort of students arrive during orientation, excited about the program and their futures. Then, just 17 months later, I get to see them on graduation day with their families, celebrating an amazing accomplishment, wonderful friendships made, a prestigious degree, and a strong foundation for a successful career in business analytics. It is a joy for all of the faculty and staff to work with these students throughout the time they are with us, and we consider our graduates to be a part of the UTK Business Analytics family for life!


For more information on the business analytics programs offered at the University of Tennessee, visit them online.

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That concludes our interview!

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