Under the Radar: Seattle Albers’ Business Analytics Program Prepares Students for Data-Driven Careers

Seattle University is a small Jesuit school located in the heart of a major technology hub. Its business school, the Albers School of Business and Economics, has a business analytics program focused on the moment in technology

In an increasingly data-driven world, more and more businesses are requiring their employees to understand analytics. This is especially true in technology, and it is especially true today.

Nathan Colaner, director of Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics’ master’s program in business analytics, says that until the last decade, there wasn’t enough data to solve business problems — so naturally, there’s still a shortage of people. who can understand it. “Finding and training people who have that skill set is hard work,” says Kolaner.

Albers’ intimate MSBA program helps fill the gap. By sharpening students’ quantitative skills, they learn to make data-driven business decisions.


Under the Radar: Seattle Albers' Business Analytics Program Prepares Students for Data-Driven Careers

Jennifer Hong of Seattle Albers: “We’re downtown, which helps us connect with many of the executives and our own alumni working for tech companies.”

This private Jesuit B-school, located in the heart of a major technology hub, enrolls only 120 students each year in its MSBA, with a class size between 20 and 30. Here, students have the opportunity to apply conceptual and theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience – something that MSBA marketing analytics professor Jennifer Hong says is “only possible with Albers’ small class.”

“The idea of ​​being small ensures that every student gets the care and attention they need,” explains Hong. “The bigger the program, the bigger the competition. We want to make sure that students enter this program knowing that they can be successfully placed in any career they desire.”

Hong sees analytics as a key component of data-driven decision making. She says that whatever discipline business students pursue will require some level of analytical and data management skills. “Especially in this era — and in Seattle,” she says.


Under the Radar: Seattle Albers' Business Analytics Program Prepares Students for Data-Driven Careers

Nathan Colaner: “The ethics of socio-economic responsibility of analytics is emphasized across the curriculum”

Colaner says many business problems are rooted in a lack of data, which leads people to rely on guesswork and “throw spaghetti at the wall to see what’s left.”

“In the last ten years, the amount of available data has exploded,” adds Kolaner. “And if you can figure out how to get insights from that, you can address business problems.”

The Albers MSBA program offers students a little bit of everything to prepare for a variety of analytical roles, according to Hong. “It teaches students how to code, develop quantitative skills, and make sense of the data they get from those skills and tools. Most importantly, it teaches them how to communicate internally with both team members and users,” she says.

Despite the prevalence of data in today’s world, Hong believes that few people actually know what to do with it. This is where the Albers MSBA comes in. “You can do almost anything with dataflow, but that doesn’t mean you have to do anything,” she says. “After all, you need evidence to make strategic decisions. This program gives people confidence in maneuvering the data that’s out there.”

According to Hong, understanding the ethics of data is a key component in working with it. In fact, business ethics and law are core courses in the program. “It’s not just about the quantitative skill set we want to nurture; it also has to do with ethical guidelines,” says Hong. “There are many ethical issues with the current data, such as data breaches, misuse and the spread of misinformation. These are some of the topics we really touch on in our program.”

“Ethics about the socio-economic responsibility of analytics are emphasized throughout the curriculum,” adds Colaner.


The downtown Seattle location helps provide ample opportunities for students to connect with the tech community. “We’re in the center of the city, which helps us connect with many of the executives and our own alumni working for tech companies,” explains Hong.

According to Colaner, the school is serious about creating opportunities to interact with recruiters and others in technology. This happens by bringing in guest speakers in classes, as well as through events like the upcoming Tech Bowl—which is a Super Bowl event sponsored by GeekWire—where marketing faculty and the student chapter of the American Marketing Association meet to discuss advertising. at the Super Bowl. The program also has a mentoring component; at an annual event, students meet potential mentors in a speed-dating style environment.

In addition, the MSBA Advisory Board—made up of executives primarily from the technology industry—helps create the curriculum, assists with internships, and connects students and faculty with the community. The school also recently extended a scholarship to tech workers who were laid off. Now they can earn up to $15K in scholarships through the Project Pivot program.

Under the Radar: Seattle Albers' Business Analytics Program Prepares Students for Data-Driven Careers


When it comes to choosing between this program and an MBA, Hong recommends that students first ask themselves what they want to major in after graduation.

She believes that the MBA program is best suited for students who want to make a career change in the business field, while the MSBA program is best for those who lack quantitative skills and are looking for that specific skill set. It is also for those who are comfortable with analyzing data but want to learn how to make sense of it in a business context.

Students can choose to do the program in person or online. Or they can choose a combination of both. Both versions are usually completed in two years, but students can complete them in as little as one year and up to four years. “We have a sharing rule,” says Colaner. “During your degree you can take up to five hours in the other modality.”

“We need our graduates to be able to speak two languages: business and data analysis,” adds Kolaner. “That’s really the value of the degree.”


Although many students come into the program with little knowledge of numbers, the school is in the process of creating a prerequisite course to help prepare them for the rigors of the program — which the advisory board will help co-create.

When it comes to entering the program, Hong advises students to keep an open mind and try not to get overwhelmed. “Don’t be afraid of numbers and jargon,” she says. “At the end of the day, the whole point of the program is to help people learn to understand the data, not to generate it.”

“Our mission is to educate the whole person,” she adds. “We want to mentor students to become participants in society, not just in the organization they work for.”


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