In my colleague Geoffrey Taylor’s recent blog post, he indicated there is a shortage of analytic talent, and our efforts working with the academic community suggest that indeed there is. Part of the mission of the SAS Global Academic Program is to facilitate the development of students with problem solving skills using analytics and SAS.
The Global Academic Program was started in November of 2000 with the primary goal of assisting university professors in teaching analytics using SAS software. Over the last eleven years the program has evolved into supporting not only university professors but also instructors at community colleges. More recently, our program has been actively supporting high school teachers as well. This is an exciting trend, as it shows the importance of analytic skill development, and starting early gives students a strong foundation to build upon as they enter college and further develop their knowledge and problem-solving abilities.
SAS first introduced a joint Certificate Program in Data Mining with the University of Central Florida in December of 2000. We now have worked with over forty joint certificate programs throughout the United States and with several international universities like Sunway University in Malaysia. These joint certificates typically require four to six three-semester hour courses and at least one major real-world project that the student must complete and present to his/her colleagues and other attendees. A program established at Oklahoma State University (OSU) in 2004 in data mining has graduated over 300 full-time graduate students and over 40 part-time distance learning students with SAS and OSU data mining certificates. With its focus on business analytics, the OSU/SAS joint certificate draws students from masters programs in Information Systems, Engineering, Statistics, Computer Science, and other programs at the university. These programs, along with many others, have provided graduates with such strong analytical skills that many of the programs have near 100% placement of their graduates.
In recognition of the fact that many of his students taking the Data Mining Certificate weren’t coming from the MBA program, the director of the OSU program, Dr. Goutam Chakraborty, introduced a new joint certificate in business analytics. This program was launched in the fall of 2011 and is designed to be attractive to the MBA students. Dr. Chakraborty’ s goal is to use the business analytics course to generate enough interest in the MBA population so these students get motivated to take other analytical courses.
The primary goal of all these programs has been to help the students be more attractive to companies that are looking for candidates with sufficient analytic skills who can be productive immediately or with minimal on-site training.
In addition to the joint certificate programs, we are working with several universities to develop full-blown master’s degrees in analytics or business analytics. We have worked closely with North Carolina State University’s Institute of Advanced Analytics to develop the highly successful Master of Analytics that is now in its fifth year. This program has had tremendous success and information about the graduates for the last four years shows the outstanding acceptance the graduates have received. A key aspect of this program’s success, as well as that of the OSU program, has been its emphasis on practical business experience through real-life business problem solving. Employers place a premium on this type of experience, and this shows in the program graduates’ employment prospects.
Louisiana State University, Texas A&M University, North-West University in South Africa, and Northwestern University are working with us to develop and offer similar programs. It is our firm belief that the shortage of qualified analytics professionals is real, and we are committed to engaging and collaborating with educators and universities around the globe to prepare students for the demands they will face as they look to fulfill their career aspirations.