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An online business analytics degree for a data-driven workforce

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There are two specialization options in Oregon State’s online business analytics bachelor’s program: market research and consumer analytics, and digital marketing analytics.

Oregon State online bachelor’s in business analytics teaches students how to use data to solve real-world problems

By Jordan Friedman
June 12, 2020

The prevalence of digital technology has sparked a revolution in big data. In today’s world, it impacts nearly every job sector. Analytics enable businesses to predict and measure consumer behavior, drive analyses and inform decisions.

For example, in hospital emergency rooms, data can be used to measure patient capacity down to the minute, as well as foresee — and prevent — overcrowding. In human resources, companies can use data to predict employee turnover and proactively prevent at-risk employees from leaving.

Given its ubiquity across industries, analytics skills are in high demand in the job market, and research shows the trend is expected to continue.

That’s, in part, why Oregon State University Ecampus launched its online bachelor’s degree in business analytics, says Bin Zhu, associate professor of business information systems in the College of Business.

“(Companies) realize by analyzing this data, they can identify new solutions to optimize their business practices and to identify new sources of income,” Zhu says.

The undergraduate online program provides students with an opportunity to fill a void in the job market by learning career-relevant skills. They integrate datasets to assess business opportunities and risks, and they focus on topics ranging from data visualization and text mining to operations and accounting management.

“Writing a program, analyzing data is just part of the challenge. The bigger part is to communicate with people, to understand the business process, to understand their organization’s strategy in order to create something useful.”

Students can become proficient in using different analytics tools to solve problems “to be able to process the data, to develop statistical models to do the data mining,” Zhu says. “At the same time, they need to know, what are the specific business questions that can be answered by all of those technical skills?”

Oregon State’s business analytics program culminates in a capstone course. In the class, Ecampus students work with real companies to examine relevant data and articulate their findings in a final project. This experiential learning opportunity enables students to directly apply the curriculum and create partnerships along the way.

“Writing a program, analyzing data is just part of the challenge,” Zhu says. “The bigger part is to communicate with people, to understand the business process, to understand their organization’s strategy in order to create something useful.”

The program includes foundational business courses in the College of Business that will make students well-equipped for entry-level positions, Zhu says, pointing to business analyst as one example.

Throughout the online program, students communicate with their classmates as they complete coursework in cities worldwide. Learning in this engaging online format can be helpful for professionals in a world driven by technology, especially as working remotely becomes more common.

“The student has to learn to get remote access to the data that they need and to the software that they need, and (they need to learn) to be able to manipulate data remotely,” Zhu says of the Ecampus program. “That’s a very valuable skill for them to get, too.”

To help students align their education to their specific career goals, Oregon State offers two degree specialization options online: digital marketing analytics, and market research and consumer analytics. That list may grow in the future, Zhu says, as the need for data-driven professionals rises in industries ranging from sports to tech, from retail to health care.

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