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New master's degrees aimed at growing fields of 'big data,' supply chains

W. P. Carey School of Business
December 10, 2012

Making decisions in the business world is getting tougher as companies branch out more globally, deal with more complex supply chains, and try to make the most of mountains of “big data.” Companies now receive sophisticated information through social media feedback, networking with customers, their own manufacturing systems, and even when consumers use cutting-edge gadgets with special technology inside. They need people who can make sense of all of this data using advanced computer models and people who can act on the information.

The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is offering two new specialized master’s degree programs to help professionals in fast-growing fields associated with all of this. The master’s in business analytics and the master’s in supply chain management and engineering are both available for students starting in fall 2013.

“With both of these degrees, we see opportunities to address emerging challenges for the global business community,” says Robert Mittelstaedt, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Companies are trying to figure out how to make ‘big data’ and business analytics into a strategic advantage as they collect more information about operations and customers. They also want people with a good mix of industrial engineering knowledge and command of supply chains for efficiency, cost savings and risk reduction. The W. P. Carey School’s supply chain management programs consistently rank Top 10 in the nation.”

The Master of Science in Business Analytics is a joint effort between the school’s information systems and supply chain management programs, both currently ranked Top 15 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The nine-month program is designed largely for those who recently graduated from college, but who want to position themselves for faster advancement in the booming information field.

“This is an opportunity to jumpstart a career in leveraging data and computer models to solve complex business problems, evaluate scenarios, predict outcomes and support decision-making,” says Professor Michael Goul, chair of the school’s Information Systems Department. “Only about a dozen business-analytics programs like this are available in the United States. It’s estimated 4.4 million data analysts will be needed worldwide by 2015, so it’s a big area of career growth.”

The other new program, the Master of Science in Supply Chain Management and Engineering, is also one of only a handful of programs of its kind. This 21-month online program is meant for working professionals, who want a deeper understanding of both supply chain management and industrial engineering. The program involves both the W. P. Carey School and the prestigious Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU. It begins with a face-to-face orientation where students meet team members. Then the students take small, online classes of fewer than 50 students, who come from a wide range of industries.

“This program is great for anyone dealing with supply management, procurement, purchasing, operations or logistics,” says professor John Fowler, chair of the school’s Supply Chain Management Department. “Sometimes, people get promoted within an organization, but don’t have formal education in supply chain management, so this is a great way to get that extra boost. It also offers the chance to integrate the business-school and industrial-engineering perspectives on problems faced by the increasingly complex supply chains of modern companies.”

Those in the supply chain field play a growing role in the business world. For example, they’re instrumental in a disaster scenario like the recent Hurricane Sandy, where recovery involved moving countless crews and resources. The primary goal is to make all operations more efficient. This is a field in which the W. P. Carey School of Business has a stellar career-placement record.

Many companies offer tuition assistance for specialized master’s programs like these. Applications are already being accepted. For more information, visit