Iowa State adds new business major

Sequan Gatlin

The College of Business at Iowa State has added business analytics as a new program for both graduate and undergraduate students.

The Board of Regents approved the program at its Feb. 5 meeting.  

The Department of Supply Chain and Information Systems decided to add business analytics as a degree because of the high demand for graduates who can work with big data.

This program will be offered at the graduate level as a masters in business analytics. For undergraduates, business analytics is an optional focus for both marketing and management information systems majors.

The concept of business analytics is used to focus on how a business should analyze large amounts of data, practice risk management and find solutions for managerial problems associated with data and statistics.

Raisbeck Endowed dean of the College of Business David Spalding said business analytics is the new competitive edge for companies that manage their data effectively.

“Businesses using these [analytics] are gaining a real advantage in the marketplace. Amazon was one of the first, they’re using them to generate sales,” Spalding said. “It’s an effort to deal with the tremendous amount of data coming out of businesses today.”

Iowa State hired 12 faculty members in the Colleges of Business, Vet-Med, Engineering and Liberal Arts and Sciences to instruct courses in business analytics with the expectation of hiring six more instructors.

The program includes courses in marketing, computer science, computer engineering and statistics that will be taught in a “blended course” method, new to the university as professors will provide synchronous and asynchronous courses online.

The University of Iowa requested a similar degree at the regents meeting. A cooperative effort between the two universities allows a student enrolled in the one program to take up to nine credits of approved courses in the other program to count as credits in the student’s home university, according to the Board of Regents agenda item.

Danny Johnson, associate dean of undergraduate programs, described what synchronous and asynchronous courses are and how graduates will be involved in these online courses.

“Asynchronous courses are traditional online courses where a professor is not present,” Johnson said. “Synchronous online courses are when the professor is live in front of a camera while students are behind the cameras of their computers.”

Although Spalding said online courses will be the most used medium of communication, students will meet one week at the beginning, middle and end of the prospective 21-month graduate program for a three-credit course.

The synchronous and asynchronous courses give the graduates experience as working professionals. On the other hand, the week-long and in-person meetings give the students opportunities to build cohorts as teams and develop relationships to solve analytic concerns.