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Student Experiences

Surrounded by Data

In the Classroom

As the business world becomes increasingly data driven, professors in the MBA program at BYU Marriott want their students to graduate equipped with skills that will set them apart from their colleagues and give them a competitive edge in the workforce.

MBA 560: Business Analytics is designed to do just that by providing students with the knowledge, skills, and vocabulary they need to flourish in the modern work environment.

“The world of business is becoming increasingly quantitative,” says Jeff Dotson, a marketing professor who teaches the course. “Our ability to collect, archive, and store data has created an enormous demand for managers who are skilled in data-driven decision making.

“At a minimum, MBA 560 helps students develop data literacy,” he continues. “For many students, the class also ignites a passion for analytics that can become a key differentiator in the students’ careers.”

The MBA 560: Business Analytics course is divided into five units:

  • Unit 1 introduces students to foundational topics in business analytics.
  • Unit 2 discusses development and analysis for surveys.
  • Unit 3 covers data visualization, key performance indicators, and hypothesis testing.
  • Unit 4 introduces machine-learning techniques for structured data.
  • Unit 5 covers unsupervised machine learning techniques.
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The MBA 560: Business Analytics class provides students with the knowledge, skills, and vocabulary they need to flourish in the modern work environment.
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The course concludes with a discussion of the potential limitations, ethical concerns, and future of artificial intelligence.

For some students, the course material is completely new; for others, the class builds upon already existing skills and makes analytics easier to understand. “I always thought my weakness was analytics,” says Cedric Huntington, a second-year MBA student. “Through this class, I discovered I’m more analytical than I thought—I just needed some guidance on application. MBA 560 is an interactive course that helped with the application aspect.”

Each unit offers students multiple opportunities to break into groups and enjoy hands-on opportunities to work with different types of software. Dotson wants to ensure the course not only gives students necessary knowledge but also provides real experiences working with data.

“Jeff makes the concepts in the class tangible. We worked in data all the time,” says second-year MBA student Judy Newman. “The key to data is asking questions about what’s important and what’s not. This course helped us learn how to answer those questions and then collect the data.”

One of the most important class projects involves teams of students partnering with different companies to develop business analytics case studies. Throughout the project, students must identify three things: the motivation for the company’s data analytics project, the company’s actions during the project, and the outcome of the project.

Students also have opportunities to apply skills they develop in MBA 560 during internships between their first and second years in the program. “Many of our students’ summer internships involve some element of data analysis,” says Dotson. “The skills students gain in MBA 560 help guide them through the framing, execution, and presentation of these projects.”

However, the goal of the business analytics course extends far beyond a single internship; ultimately, the class aims to provide students with valuable skills that will elevate them throughout the course of their careers.


Written by Sarah Calvert