It's well documented that there's a big data talent gap, but what's being done about it? What's needed is knowledge and experience. On the first front, hundreds of colleges and universities worldwide are gearing up business analytics, machine learning and other programs aimed at analysis of data in a business context.
Data growth is headed in one direction, so it's clear that the skills gap is a long-term problem. But many businesses just can't wait the three to five years it might take today's undergrads to become business-savvy professionals. With that and InformationWeek's readership in mind, there's a great opportunity for experienced information management professionals and even data-savvy IT generalists to fill the talent void. Thus, here's our short list of one- and two-year business analytics and big-data-oriented masters programs in North America.
All of these programs are geared to candidates who already have undergraduate degrees, and most favor professionals with three or more years of work experience. In many cases part-time options are available, so students can continue to work as they learn more about big data analytics.
This is not a ranking. It's an alphabetical listing of well-known and emerging masters programs specifically targeting the big data analytics talent gap. We've included several of the masters programs at elite schools of engineering where grad-school-supported research programs have sprung up around big data. Columbia, for example, has its Institute for Data Sciences, Harvard has its Institute for Applied Computational Science and the University of California, Berkeley has its AMPLab (which explores the role of algorithms, machines and people in big data analytics).
Getting into a masters program at an elite school is no guarantee you'll be tapped for an interesting big data research project working alongside a well-known professor. Nevertheless, graduates of these schools tend to have their pick of future employers.
More than half of these schools are offering fairly new masters programs in business analytics. These tend to be interdisciplinary degrees sponsored by schools of business. In some cases it's an MBA degree with a specialization in analytics and information management (see New York University and Rutgers). In other cases it's a focused, business-meets-analytics program that can be completed in one year or less (see North Carolina State University, Drexel, Louisiana State University and Canada's York University). In still other cases, departments of statistics and operations research have dialed up their applied learning to create more business- and big-data-oriented programs (see University of Cincinnati and University of Tennessee).
Those specifically interested in big data analytics as applied to marketing should investigate Bentley University and DePaul. Insurance and financial services get special attention at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where State Farm has a research center that offers tuition assistance and internship opportunities.
Given the number of universities developing business analytics and big-data related programs, a list of 20 schools can't be comprehensive. Thus, our last slide offers links to 10 more masters programs for big data analytics, including new programs at Arizona State, Fordham University and The University of Maryland.
We encourage schools not listed here to add appropriate masters programs using the comment tool at the bottom of the page (note: all comments that include URLs must be reviewed before posting to eliminate spam, so either omit links or count on a delay). It will take some time to fill the big data talent gap, so we'll be updating and expanding this career-development compendium as a service to our readers.