Our teaching philosophy

Work your way up to the big leagues

Remember your first use of data? You probably used it to explain something that had already happened. Looking in the rearview mirror is just the starting point. Things get interesting—and more complex—when you get into predicting future events or determining the optimal set of decisions for a specific business outcome.

Our teaching philosophy and course sequence are designed to help you work your way up this data ladder—going from descriptive analytics (explaining what happened) to diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analytics (influencing what will happen).

Certificate and master's required courses

Master's degree sample course electives (four required)

Master's degree required experience project

See schedule of upcoming courses

Required courses

Business Analytics (MSCI:9100)

  • What's the sales value of a home in Des Moines? Create a price prediction model using market data.
  • What are the costs and benefits of bringing a pharmaceutical drug to market? Analyze the situation using structured decision analysis.
  • How many flu shots should be ordered for a clinic during an epidemic? Maintain high-quality service even in the face of substantial uncertainty.

Database Systems (MSCI:9230)

  • Which zip codes had the highest increase in sales within a product category? Convert data needs into SQL queries and integrate SQL in an interactive web app.
  • How can a nonprofit track donor engagement to provide more personalized and targeted promotional materials? Adapt a business problem into a data model and implement it in a database management system.
  • Can I create an online dashboard for team KPIs? Transform live data into metrics using SQL queries and choose appropriate visualizations for query outputs.

Advanced Analytics (MSCI:9110)
Prerequisite: Business Analytics (MSCI:9100)

  • How did the 2001 terrorist attacks impact travel patterns and behavior in the United States? Determine hypothetical trends if the attacks had not happened using time series analysis.
  • How can I create an index fund to track a particular financial sector? Solve an optimization model to choose a representative sample of companies in which to invest.
  • How do companies use analytics? Present a case study of a large company using analytics successfully.

Data Programming in R (MSCI:6060)

  • How do I automatically integrate sales data from separate data sources? Design a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem and then code it using the open-source R environment.
  • How can I download quarterly financials for multiple companies? Use advanced R features that extract data from websites.
  • Do customers who buy Product X also tend to buy Product Y? Write simple data-mining procedures that find associations and execute them repeatedly.

Data Science (MSCI:6070)
Prerequisite: Business Analytics (MSCI:9100)

  • Will this stock price go up or down tomorrow? What about in the next 5 seconds? Identify opportunities for profitable trades.
  • Which of these people is most likely to respond to a direct marketing contact? Segment your customers for better targeting, and identify the most promising new leads.
  • What kind of approach might move a donor to a higher giving level? Conduct a design of experiments to gather the most information from your trial marketing campaign.

Master's degree elective courses

Statistical Methods for Process Improvement (MSCI:9180)

  • How can we reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve quality? Discuss approaches to quality in delivering goods and services, emphasizing both managerial issues and statistical methods.

Text Analytics (MSCI:6100)
Prerequisites: Data Programming in R (MSCI:6060) and Advanced Analytics (MSCI:9110) or Data Science (MSCI:6070)

  • How can I convert unstructured emails, tweets, blogs, customer reviews, etc. into insights? Learn how to identify relevant sources, harvest the data, manage large databases, and use techniques to change words into quantifiable metrics.

Big Data Management and Analytics (MSCI:6110)
Prerequisite: Database Systems (MSCI:9230), Data Programming in R (MSCI:6060)

  • What if my data set is too large to be handled by a single computer? Explore new concepts and technologies instead of traditional relational databases.

Operations Analytics (planned future course)

  • How can we become more efficient and reduce cost in all stages of production? Review concepts in project management and supply chain management, and then discuss operational issues, such as scheduling, transportation and logistics, and inventory management.

Healthcare Analytics (planned future course)

  • How can we manage costs, reimbursements, and waiting times? Take a look at modern analytics in health care with a focus on analyzing operational data.

Digital Marketing Strategies and Analytics (MKTG:9165)

  • How can I translate data into marketing strategy? Examine applications for product forecasting, product development, promotional strategy, online marketing, and customer databases.

Applied Optimization (MSCI:6130)

  • How do we use optimization (also called prescriptive analytics or mathematical programming) to make tactical and strategic decisions? Learn advanced optimization skills including data collection and prep, logical modeling, and solution interpretation and implementation within a software environment.

Information Visualization (MSCI:6140)
Prerequisities: Data Programming in R (MSCI:6060), Business Analytics (MSCI:9100)

  • How do I make my data digestible for others in my organization by presenting it visually?
  • Which type of data graphic should I use in a given situation, and what makes each graphic type unique?
  • How does human perception affect how my data should be presented?
  • Which statistical methods can help me visualize information?

Analytics Experience Project (MSCI:6120)
Prerequisite: All certificate courses plus at least one Master's elective

  • The knowledge you've gained in the program, particularly in the core courses, will culminate in a group project and/or competition that solves a real-world business problem. Groups may partner with an area business.