Continuing its push into the online learning space, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business is launching two new business analytics programs that will debut next fall. The school will offer a 19-month-long Master of Science in Quantitative Management: Business Analytics along with a 10-month accelerated version of the program for students who already have an MBA or a Master in Management degree.
Fuqua is pricing the full, five-term program of 16 courses at $66,000, while the fast version with 10 courses that can be completed in a single year is $40,000. The school hopes to enroll an initial cohort of between 25 and 30 students and to increase enrollment to 80 to 90 students at a steady state.
Fuqua’s new programs take advantage of two growth trends in business education, an explosion in interest in business analytics and greater emphasis on using online learning as a delivery platform for already employed professionals. Enrollment in data analytics degree programs has skyrocketed in recent years (search our specialized master’s directory for the many options currently available).
TWO BIG TRENDS: BUSINESS ANALYTICS & ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAMS
“What motivates the program is this one word: relevance,” says Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding in an interview with Poets&Quants. “We want to make sure we remain relevant in the digital transformation happening in education, but it has two dimensions. One is that this kind of content has never been more important in the world of business. This is where companies are struggling to find talent at the intersection of business and technical capabilities. But it is also relevant in terms of the format. We are living in a world where access can be very challenging. Online makes this content accessible to a relevant audience. They can remain working and active from any part of the world.”
The new offerings follow the school’s first fully online program in health analytics launched a year ago with a cohort of 21 students. The school recently welcomed its second class of 44 students in that program which also costs $66,000.
Fuqua intends to keep the online degree programs on the small side. “This is not a high volume model,” says Boulding. “We are not going to have big numbers. It’s an important opportunity to allow people to be prepared for this space where there is this intersection between business acumen and understanding the technologies and analytics tools available to us.
ONLINE BUSINESS ANALYTICS PROGRAMS KICK OFF NEXT SEPTEMBER
“The accelerated program leverages the existing business foundations these students have,” he adds. The accelerated degree is one more example of our belief that we can engage in meaningful lifelong learning with our community because we can take our existing MBAs and MiM graduates and give them an opportunity to come back and re-skill.”
Both programs will kick off in early September of 2020 with a required on-campus orientation that will last two and one-half days. Then, students will go through the online program as a cohort with live 75-minute Internet classes weekly. Fuqua is also offering an optional leadership intensive program that the students can choose to participate in on-campus for another two and one-half days. A time commitment of between 15 to 20 hours a week is expected.
The program will have an alternating format of live classes. “So in one week you will have course A and the next week course B and the third week Course A,” explains Preyas Desai, senior associate dean for digital education. “We don’t want to go boom boom boom and we’re done with it. With all of that, there are live sessions every week but not for every course. The live sessions will be 75 minutes. We will also have faculty available by email and telephone.”
‘GETTING PEOPLE TO MEET EACH OTHER IS HELPFUL TO BUILD TEAMS’
“This is a working professional program so we expect people to be working currently,” explains Boulding. “Some of the students may be involved or may not be prepared for the technical questions in their jobs. We think the face-to-face residency is an important dimension of the experience. Simply getting people to meet each other and the faculty is helpful to build the robust team-based activity that will ensue in the online environment.”
Fuqua is aiming the program at professionals who want to lead a business analytics team. These are people who will ultimately be able to lead business analytics teams. “They could lead a strategy for a company,” says Boulding. “It is a skill set that is badly needed in the marketplace. We can’t have people who are running these efforts who view everything as a black box. You need to know what is in that black box to make good choices.”
Fuqua expects applicants to the program to have some quantitative ability. ““For the full-length program, we are looking for students who have quantitative backgrounds in terms of their degree,” says Desai. “If they weren’t a STEM, we will go through the transcripts to see if they have done enough courses in math and statistics to deal with the rigor of the program. We want to take people who have that sort of background.”
NEW ONLINE PROGRAMS NOT A HARBINGER OF A FULLY ONLINE MBA
Asked if the new programs bring Fuqua closer to launching an online MBA, Boulding says he doesn’t think so. Fuqua currently has a weekend MBA program with an enrollment of 173 students that is a hybrid model, along with a global MBA program, with 94 students, that also is a blended model with some digital learning.
“There is a mix of MBA programs out there that are all lumped under online MBAs and many of them are hybrid as opposed to online,” he says. “We already have two MBA programs that have a mix of face to face and online activity. And we are in growth mode in that space so we feel like we changed our weekend MBA format from the traditional model of coming to campus every other weekend to come to campus every four weeks with the digital thing. You can participate physically in a classroom or virtually. There was an assumption that weekend MBA programs were purely regional and we have experienced that this could be a national if not an international program.”