Source: The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
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The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga: Experiential and multidisciplinary Data Analytics programmes

Few universities are able to nurture students into graduates with multi-faceted skillsets, let alone robust ones. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga can.

Its Master of Science in Data Analytics (MSDA) is a joint programme between the Gary W. Rollins College of Business and the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Highlights of the MSDA curriculum include the following:

  • Students complete seven required core courses—four in business and three in computer science.
  • Students choose from a computer science track or a business track, which determine elective and capstone options.
  • Depending on the track chosen, the capstone could be an internship, a company-based project, a research-based project, or a thesis.
  • Both tracks present the opportunity for students to use internship credit towards degree requirements.

For students, this collaborative structure is what they know as truly getting “the best of both worlds.”

They have many reasons to say so. A central feature of the MSDA is its strong connection to the region’s business community. This means students get to apply knowledge gained in classrooms as they work with live data and on real projects with companies in Chattanooga, Atlanta, Nashville, Huntsville and Birmingham.

Source: The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

MSDA students get the best of both worlds and the city as their classroom. Source: The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

The programme’s advisory board, which includes leaders from some of the region’s largest companies, not only provides insight to its curriculum but also experiential opportunities. This includes internship, networking, and projects. The board opens doors to post-graduation job opportunities in the region too.

“Our programme advisory board represents more than 20 companies from our region and I frequently receive calls from these companies looking to hire people who have strong skills in both the business and the computer science side of data analytics,” says Dr. Hemant Jain, director of the MSDA programme.

MSDA graduates are just as in demand everywhere else to fill what Harvard Business Review called the “Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.”

Between now and 2024, the Bureau of Labour Statistics projects that the Data Analytics field will grow at least 19% — a much higher rate than all other occupations. Experts in this field command a salary between US$87,975 and US$149,685, depending on experience, education and skills. “The job prospects for our programme graduates are really good,” says Dr. Jain.

Korede Ajumobi is set to be one of them. As a student in the UTC MSDA program, he recently completed an internship at Rollins Inc., a global consumer and commercial services company with subsidiaries that include Orkin, Allpest, Safeguard and Ardwolf. Rollins Inc., is a member of the MSDA advisory board. Ajumobi was part of the 2021 Rollins Support Centre Summer Internship programme working in the finance department.

“I got rotated around different data analytics teams and learned about their workflows and processes,” he says. “I learned a lot from one-on-one conversations as well as from seminars.”

He also worked on a variety of projects—both large and small. “I collaborated with the marketing team to identify accessible markets based on post-COVID industry growth trends,” Ajumobi said. “I also got to design a time series forecasting technique to predict when new service vehicles should be added to the company roster. But my favorite little project during that time was building an operational dashboard in Tableau, highlighting service routes and areas for franchise expansion.”

Ajumobi was also able to use this internship experience as his MSDA capstone project.

Source: The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Programmes at the Gary W. Rollins College of Business come to life through internships, networking events, and projects. Source: The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Ajumobi envisions even brighter prospects for the future. “As an international student, I think I have a unique perspective. You have a lot of people coming here to get a good education and one that’s affordable,” he says. “Then they are staying here, getting jobs and contributing in many ways to the economy, the workforce and society. It also says a lot about local citizens who are part of a welcoming environment.”

For Ajumobi, the most impressive part of his programme, however, is its faculty members. “The open-door policy of the faculty is phenomenal,” he says. “I had numerous constructive conversations with professors, advisors, and even the college dean on topics ranging from personal growth to future academic goals. Their words and advice are invaluable.”

MSDA students aren’t the only ones on this journey from student to in-demand experts. Students at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga can also pursue an AACSB-accredited  Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Business Analytics concentration.

Students will gain practical and strategic skills in organisation, operations, accounting, finance and information management, as well as fundamental skills for entrepreneurial success — plus a big advantage in data analytics.

With courses focused on databases and data warehouses as well as descriptive, prescriptive and predictive analytics, this career-building curriculum prepares students for the growing demand for data analysts in business environments.