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SAS, LSU launch analytics master’s degree

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Big data represents unprecedented opportunities for companies. Yet analysts – “data scientists” who extract useful information from data – remain in short supply. Having used SAS® Analytics in teaching and research for more than 30 years, Louisiana State University is now collaborating with SAS to launch a Master of Science in Analytics (MSA) to meet the growing demand for analytics professionals.

“There is great competition for talented individuals who combine data analysis expertise with practical business skills,” said Kenneth Koonce, dean of the LSU College of Agriculture, which houses the Department Experimental Statistics (EXST). “This degree puts LSU at the forefront of the effort to meet this critical workforce need.”

The new MSA program in the Department of Information Systems & Decision Sciences (ISDS) of the E. J. Ourso College of Business is a combined effort between ISDS and EXST. In a successful pilot during the 2011-2012 school year, all graduates found employment within weeks of graduation. Employers include major companies such as Amazon.com, Bank of America and SAS.

“Thanks to SAS we are off to a great start,” said Helmut Schneider, ISDS Department chair. “These highly skilled graduates will meet the increasing demand for analytics professionals among Fortune 500 companies, many of which will serve on our Industry Advisory Board.”

LSU’s program closely mirrors the Master of Science in Analytics at North Carolina State University, which worked with SAS to launch the nation’s first analytics master’s degree. All 38 graduates of NCSU’s 2012 class had job offers before completing the program; more than half received at least three. Ninety-two percent had positions graduation. LSU’s 2012-13 inaugural class has 20 students.

“Whether it’s government agencies uncovering fraud, retailers analyzing social media for customer sentiment, or pharmaceutical companies getting drugs to market faster, organizations are using analytics to uncover valuable information from massive amounts of data,” SAS CEO Jim Goodnight said. “LSU’s MSA students will apply cutting-edge SAS software to real-world data and challenges.”

Using advanced data management tools and applied statistical and operations research techniques, students will learn to analyze large, real-world data sets to improve return on investment, customer retention, fraud detection and decision making. The full-time program requires 36 credit hours taken from August to May.

Student teams work with leading companies and government organizations to solve real business problems in areas such as insurance, banking, health care, communications, e-commerce, law enforcement and marketing.  They learn to stay focused on the bottom line, and build skills needed to effectively communicate solutions to upper management.

In addition to financial support, SAS experts have conducted onsite training and hosted LSU faculty at SAS’ Cary, NC headquarters. A SAS education expert serves on LSU’s Industry Advisory Board. LSU will have free access to SAS software and teaching materials through SAS OnDemand for Academics, as do all degree-granting institutions teaching with SAS software.

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