Why Georgetown’s new MSBA program may be just what you’re looking for! [Show Summary]
Dr. Sudipta Dasmohapatra, Academic Director of Georgetown’s MSBA program, goes in-depth on who the new online master’s program is for and how will prepare students for careers in data science leadership.
Earn your Master’s of Science in business analytics online in just 16 months, while continuing to work. [Show Notes]
Are you attracted to business analytics but don’t want to take the time off work to enter a full-time program to master the topic? Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business has just what you’re looking for: an online master’s designed for working professionals. Today’s guest is the director of that program, and we’re going to learn all about it.
Dr. Sudipta Dasmohapatra earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in India and her PhD from Penn State, and she’s always been a numbers geek. She started her career as a data scientist in 2004 and her teaching career at North Carolina State, where she was Associate Professor of Marketing and Customer Analytics until 2017. In 2017, she became, among other duties, the Director of the Master’s in Statistical Science at Duke University, and in 2020 she joined Georgetown as Academic Director of its brand new online MS in Business Analytics (MSBA) program for working professionals.
Can you provide an overview of Georgetown’s MSBA program? [2:06]
The Georgetown Master’s in Business Analytics offered by the McDonough School of Business is coming online in January 2021. It is an online, 16-month, comprehensive analytics program. We have designed it with the goal of preparing future business leaders and managers that are interested in learning how to understand data and how to use data to create, share, and sustain value.
The graduates of this program will be prepared to lead in key growth sectors where graduates that have deep business analytic skills are highly sought. This particular program has been rigorously curated to meet the needs of the current marketplace. We have integrated the technical aspects of data analytics with the managerial business functions so that the students can learn to speak and communicate the language of data.
Within this particular program, we have both asynchronous classes, as well as synchronous sessions in which the students can join their cohort, as well as a prominent faculty, in a virtual classroom. Students also have the opportunity to come to campus. We have two week-long campus-based residencies that provide integrated hands-on activities to the students through a very intensive, week-long curriculum.
One of the cornerstones of this particular program that I want to talk about is the capstone project. The capstone project, over six months, applies the program’s concepts and methods and tools that the students learn in a challenging business data analytics assignment with a project sponsor. Students that come into this program can not only leverage the core McDonough and Georgetown community network, but being in the global capital city of Washington DC, we are going to connect the students to a network of people, programs, and complex data that have real-world consequences.
Could you give an example? What do you think a capstone project would be? [4:17]
A capstone project could be from a real-life sponsor. We might have, let’s say, the military that has all this different data to do, say, cyber analytics. We might go to them and leverage our existing contacts and get data from there, and students would be able to work on projects where they can see the application of what they have learned in a real-life project. That’s what we are envisioning right now with the capstone project.
Wow. How large of a cohort do you plan to admit this year and in subsequent years? Is it a lockstep program, where all participants take the same courses together, or are there electives where they can branch out? How does that work? [4:59]
For the inaugural class of spring 2021, we are targeting a class size of approximately 50 students. Our goal is to make sure that the students who graduate from the program can receive the McDonough advantage and are able to advance and launch and grow their career in the fields of business analytics.
In terms of your question regarding a lockstep program, we will be following the cohort model, and all the students are going to go through the same classes at the same time. With every class, the students will be incrementally growing in their skills. We have designed the classes with content that is integrated, and throughout the 16 months, the students will first learn foundational skills and then build them over time. Having said that, I would still say that we definitely want to have the McDonough experience where the students get individualized attention in order to meet their career goals.
What kind of jobs are graduates preparing for? How will the career service team assist them at that end of the program? [6:13]
There are a variety of different types of graduate programs that exist across the nation and across the globe today. Students can choose any of these programs, but specifically, our program was designed to prepare students for analytics and data science leadership roles in a variety of industries that use data. So we have consulting and financial services and risk management and technology, retail, you name it. We believe that most students in this program will be prepared for advancing their career, with the goal of managing projects and meeting their teams.
You asked about career services, and we will have dedicated career services for the students in this particular program. Our team is going to provide professional development and leadership skills and exposure to various types of data analytics roles that the students are going to come across, as well as any other activities that help to prepare the students for roles of their choice.
How is the program structured to provide the flexibility that working professionals need? [7:31]
That’s a great question. We have designed this online program very thoughtfully, with working professionals in mind. The curriculum has been built with our past experience and success with other online programs at McDonough. You must have noticed that the timeline is 16 months. We want to provide both conceptual and practical skills at a pace that will be comfortable for working professionals. That’s why we are not cramming everything in two or three semesters in a one-year program; it’s a 16-month program.
We have created a very highly flexible learning environment with interactive recordings and readings, which students will be able to do in their free time through the asynchronous content. The synchronous content will include live sessions that will build on the asynchronous content with case studies, projects, and applied work.
We do not formally, at this point of time, require any kind of time sponsorship from employers to be sure that the students will be able to provide the time commitment that is required for going through this program at a comfortable pace. I would like to say here that when the students join the program, they will become a member of a caring community of faculty and staff and students, and we’re going to provide them that individualized attention to help them learn and achieve their goals through their time.
Can you describe the application process for the MSBA? [9:11]
The Master of Science in Business Analytics will begin their first cohort in January, 2021. We require the applicants of the program to submit an online application, their resume and CV. We also require undergraduate degree transcripts as the last transcripts from any graduate programs. There’s a personal statement that is required and two letters of recommendation. One of the things that students are asking us who have been applying to such programs is whether they require a GRE or GMAT, right? While we do not require them to have the test scores, they are strongly recommended. But we will consider waivers based on prior academic performance or work experience that students have. For non-native English speakers, we need them to have TOEFL or IELT scores.
I also want to stress here that once an application has been submitted, it will be evaluated by an admissions committee. That can be a director; that’s going to be me. Then we will use a holistic approach when making admission decisions. We are really looking for applicants who are aligned with our values and our mission to have a positive impact in society and that they could be collaborative members and team players. We want to make sure that we’re admitting students who we believe will add value to their entire class, as well as to the larger Georgetown community.
What kind of work experience, both in terms of quantity and quality, do you expect? [10:43]
The admissions committee expects applicants to have about two to five or more years of work experience. The type and quality of the work experience obviously will be evaluated in terms of the whole person that is applying to the program. If there are non-work experiences, in other forms, we will also give serious consideration to those. For example, volunteer work, extracurricular activities during college, leadership positions that they have held in non-work organizations, any kind of special awards or achievements. All of these are going to be considered when we look at applicants’ experience.
Do you expect people to be working in quantitative fields or to have a quantitative academic background when they apply? [11:26]
Not really. We are thinking about students who can think quantitatively. They are curious about the data. They’re motivated and are keen to learn skills that will help them draw insights from complex data. The students that have technical backgrounds are perhaps going to be more competitive, but it doesn’t mean that students who are not in technical backgrounds cannot be because if you are curious about data, you can come from any field. If you’re curious about learning these skills and are motivated and want to make a difference in society and businesses and how you make decisions using data, absolutely.
In terms of a formal coursework, the only thing that we need the students to have taken is undergraduate-level math courses. If it’s a technical discipline, it just adds to that. But we are not really looking for students to have any formal statistics or programming languages. We are going to teach them that in the program. That’s what the program is. We are talking about linear algebra, calculus, that kind of work. Once they have that, they’re going to be good to come into our program.
Can you share the essay question or personal statement question? [12:47]
In terms of the personal statement, we are really looking for students to tell us about why they want to enroll in a business analytics program. What kind of past experience, if any, do they have in analytics? Why do they want to attend Georgetown University? What are their career aspirations and expectations after they received this MSD degree? We also have an optional scholarship essay. Students that want to apply for scholarships can do that. They write an essay that explains the unique values and perspectives they would bring into the program. We do have some limited scholarships that we offer within the program.
Is an interview required? [13:32]
Yes. All applicants will do a short video conference interview with an admissions representative. The interviews typically focus on an applicant’s background, analytics, any kind of data science experience that they would have and their career goals. We may ask certain candidates to participate in a second interview if we need more information from the student. All interviews are online; it’s an online program. We want you to know how to work in a virtual environment.
Beyond COVID, will you want in-person interviews, or will you still do them online? [14:03]
We are going to do online interviews. We want to make sure the student is also comfortable in an online environment, this being an online program. That’s what we have done successfully across different programs, and we are going to do that as well in this program.
Georgetown McDonough also has a Flex MBA with a focus on analytics. How does the MSBA differ from the Flex MBA with a focus on analytics? [14:27]
The full-time and the Flex MBA now actually offer a STEM designated management science major, and as part of the curriculum, the students can earn a certificate in data analytics and insights. Depending upon a student’s career ambitions, pursuing an MBA with this track is the right choice if the analytics piece is perhaps as equally important as a comprehensive understanding of the core business fundamentals that the MBA program brings in. The MBA provides the students with a breadth of knowledge that covers many areas of business with a little bit of analytics in it, while the MSBA is designed for students that are more interested in a specialized program that focuses on developing a data-first mindset, along with rigorous analytic skills. These are both necessary to prepare you for a career where analytics is key to making better business decisions. The MBA is mostly an in-person program, when we are not in a pandemic, of course, while the MSBA is designed to be online. The MSBA is also shorter. It’s 16 months.
Many business people are inundated with data, and it’s not always presented in the most accessible way. Is part of the course also filtering the data so that the decision-maker gets what’s really important? [15:54]
Absolutely. We are going to train the students to not only think data, but also walk data, talk data, and communicate in the right way. Data has become very complex now. If you really look at the data science world today, it is overwhelming. It’s not only in-store data anymore. If you look at data, it’s also all this digital data that’s coming from social media and everywhere. We are going to make sure that the students can get not only the conceptual understanding but also the practical knowledge that is necessary to generate insights or draw insights from the data where they are going to be able to filter all the noise and look at the signals they can use to make the decisions. We’re going to provide them the tools and techniques and a handful of other types of knowledge they can utilize in order to solve the complex data problems that we have going on today in the marketplace.
The whole idea with a business analytics program is to make sure that the students can come in front of a group of people that they may be working with, where you have non-statisticians and statisticians. You may have people who are technical and engineers who understand this versus those that can’t understand the language of data, but then you are able to draw insights that solve business problems in the right way that non-statisticians can access as well.
The world has become completely data-centric, and people who have the knowledge to draw these insights from data are going to have a competitive advantage over others. It’s absolutely essential. I talked about the capstone course earlier and some of the courses that we will have within this program. All the courses will have some applied aspect within them, so students can see for real how data is used to transform business decisions and make sure that we can draw solutions from the problems based on data science methods and different types of tools that they can actually utilize in this program.
You mentioned that the inaugural class is going to be roughly 50 people. Do you see it growing, or do you want to keep it small? [19:45]
We do anticipate this number going up as we move forward. As more potential applicants hear about the value of getting this degree, we do anticipate getting more applications as well. However, one of the things to keep in mind is we will definitely keep it at a comfortable size where we are able to maintain our cohort nature and provide individualized learning and growth opportunities to students and deliver the McDonough and Georgetown experience and value to them. That’s what we are thinking about as we look forward to growing after the inaugural class of spring 2021.
The priority application deadline for this inaugural class is September 15th. Do you anticipate a later deadline also, since this is the priority? What is the advantage of applying by the priority deadline? [20:40]
Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. Our priority deadline is September 15th, 2020, and applications that are received by this date will be given prior consideration for some limited, merit-based financial aid. Since they are assessing applications on a rolling basis for a limited number of seats, it is advantageous for students to apply early, but we have our final application deadline as December 11th, 2020 for the first cohort.
What about those planning ahead to apply later, if this isn’t the right year to apply? How can those applicants prepare themselves to apply effectively, either in 2021 or 2022? [21:29]
I mentioned before that we don’t require them to have any kind of formal coursework in statistics or programming, but if you are thinking of applying a year later, it’s always advantageous and you’re going to be very competitive if the students coming into the program learn about statistics and data science methodologies and some other programming tools through some kind of an online learning environment like Coursera, or DataCamp, or through a formal course at a university level. If there are keen applicants, then they may be able to work with some publicly available datasets. There are all kinds of publicly available datasets. Let us know about that in the personal statement. Again, these are not required, but it definitely makes the applicants much more attractive.
What is a frequently asked question that you get about the program that’s perhaps surprised you since announcing the MSBA? [22:47]
I talked about the two five-day-long residencies: one at the beginning of the program, and one is at the midpoint of the program. Students have been asking about the required residencies with the COVID situation, and I know that that’s on the top of their minds. This is an online program, it’s going to be delivered virtually, and we are very competent at McDonough in delivering content online. We have had successful virtual in-person residencies for other programs, so we understand how to deliver these strategies and provide an equal experience and benefits to students online.
The other question that we are getting is about a value-based MSBA. We talk about the fact that the MSBA degree is going to be helpful in gaining perspective that translates data analytics to provide value to both the business organization and society, and that’s something that the students are asking for more clarity about. As we think about providing value to businesses, we will constrain the overall impact to the businesses if we only think about the economic bottom line. We want to make sure that the students within this program can think beyond that and think about creating sustainable strategies that not only make an economic impact but also make an impact on the environment and society. Ethical decision-making is a part of value-based decision-making that we are going to provide to the students within our programs. Those have been a couple of questions that students have been asking.
Is there a question you would like to answer that I didn’t ask about the MSBA? [24:37]
Data is the language that successful leaders speak today and will speak in the future. We have launched the Master’s of Science in Business Analytics program with a futuristic vision with very carefully considered content, tools, and applications in business. Students that come into this particular program are going to join the outstanding McDonough faculty and staff and their cohort that will prepare them to become globally minded, principled leaders, ready to address the most significant challenges and opportunities facing business and society.
One of the things that I did not mention earlier is that being at McDonough and Georgetown, the students in this program are going to be able to take advantage of a lot of data analytics resources across the university. This includes the massive data institute, which harnesses modern data and computing power to produce cutting-edge research and improve decision-making. We are in the process of collaborating with them to make sure that the students can take advantage of that.
Where can listeners learn more about Georgetown’s MSBA? [25:52]
Potential students, potential employers, and anybody that wants to learn more about the program can go to msb.georgetown.edu, and then go under “Degree Programs” to learn more about this particular program. Students that want to ask an admissions consultant can go to firstname.lastname@example.org and email our admissions counselors.
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