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Wharton’s Big Bet On The Analytics Boom

Wharton professor Eric Bradlow is a passionate advocate for business analytics

CAPSTONE PROJECTS IN BUSINESS ANALYTICS WILL BE A KEY PART OF THE MAJOR

Bradlow’s center works closely with many organizations to help them make their data more usable. “If you’ve got data and want to make the world or profits better, we are the center to do it,” he insists. “You don’t learn analytics by me standing up giving a PowerPoint lecture. You learn it by doing real problems and finding real solutions. It’s real data we use so students get to learn by doing.”

Not surprisingly, then, experiential learning is a key part of the major. “Wharton has been rolling out a revamped undergraduate curriculum. Over the next two years and one requirement will be a senior capstone course that will be project based. (Undergraduate Vice Dean) Lori Rosenkopf has already approached me and said the school needs me. What do you think the number one interest is from students for the capstone course? It’s analytics. “Some one has to act as matchmaker between companies and us. So on the undergrad level, the senior capstore will be the avenue, but experiential learning also exists in many of the courses.”

Last year, one project involved a team of two undergrads, three MBAs and a Phd student worked on a data analytics project for San Francisco-based hair coloring startup called Madison Reed. “We ingested their data on who buys those products to gain important insights into the customers,” says Bradlow. “The undergrads knew Python, the MBAs knew the industry and startups. The PhD person said I haven’t done any of this stuff.’ It was wonderful to see the collaborative nature of it. I told the team, ‘You have to do everything. Jou can’t just do what you know. You learn by sharing.”

‘WE HAVE PUT A BRAND AND A LABEL ON IT’

In Wharton’s MBA program, a student would have to take four elective courses in analytics to qualify for the major. “At the MBA level, you have to take stats in the core, one in descriptive analytics, one in predictive analytics, one in prescriptive analytics, and then a general capstone,” adds Bradlow. “So you need exposure to all of the basics in analytics, and you need exposure to learning by doing. you must have breadth in each of the areas. You can’t get the Wharton stamp in analytics unless you have exposure to all these different components.”

In the school’s undergraduate program, a student would have to take eight elective courses. “The beauty of it is that it is the only truly cross-disciplinary major at the Wharton School. All of our departments now have courses that count toward the analytics major.”

“From a branding point of view, most people ask students where you went and you say Wharton and then your major. We have given people a language, and we have given them a home. We are now getting students and alums saying they majored in analytics at Wharton. We have put a brand and a label on it. Before I leave this place, I am hoping there is an analytics lab where we could have PhD data scientists with one foot in industry and one foot in in academia guiding student projects.”

DON’T MISS: MIT SLOAN’S NEW MASTER OF BUSINESS ANALYTICS or UCLA ANDERSON’S MASTER OF BUSINESS ANALYTICS