Data Analytics Benefits Many Majors
With an established minor, a new major and a master's program in the works, students are gaining data analytics skills that provide a competitive edge in almost any field.
Paul Flynn ’19 is among the growing number of students who see Stonehill’s data analytics minor as providing a valuable edge in the tech-sector job market.
The resident of Milford, Connecticut, is a management major with a concentration in management information systems (MIS) and data analytics minor, and he said his major and minor will help him stand out when it’s time to launch his career.
“Classes in both subject areas revolve around technology,” he said. “While the MIS major allows me to explore core computer concepts, the data analytics minor allows me to focus on specifics related to coding and analytics.”
The increasingly popular program, offered through our Meehan School of Business, has provided the foundation for other related initiatives aimed at equipping students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in data-driven fields. Our May School of Arts & Sciences has launched a data science major, and a master’s degree in data analytics is in development.
Professor Michael Salé and a group of colleagues in Stonehill’s Business Administration Department developed the data analytics minor after recognizing the competitive advantage it would give to students such as Flynn, allowing them to step into advanced workplace roles quicker.
“Organizations want employees who have acquired the ability to analyze and use data,” said Salé, who now serves as the director of the data analytics minor program, which was established in 2014. “Companies don’t want to wait for them to be trained. We had an opportunity to capitalize on this need through this minor.”
Using Newfound Skills to Solve Problems and Create Opportunities
The minor offers students the opportunity to gain complementary computer science, mathematics and analytics skills through a series of applied learning courses. The program is interdisciplinary and designed to complement various majors, from environmental science and biology to communication and finance.
“This flexibility is intrinsic to the minor’s existence,” Salé said. “Data is present in everything.”
In their data analytics classes, students learn to apply statistics, machine learning, text retrieval and natural language processing to analyze data and interpret results. Salé said a primary goal of the minor is to help students use these acquired analytics skills to take a problem or opportunity and make decisions that will lead to positive outcomes.
Economics major and data analytics minor Erica Cordatos ’19 kept this goal in mind when developing her senior capstone project. She was responsible for using data to examine how companies such as travel services giant Airbnb contribute to unemployment rates in the hotel industry.
Cordatos recognizes that her research and her ability to interpret data could potentially affect others.
“If tourists are choosing an Airbnb [rental] over a hotel, that can affect many people working in the industry,” she said. “It is important, then, to understand how Airbnb and the sharing economy as a whole affect workers, so they can adapt to this new situation.”
In his 11 years at Stonehill, Salé has never grown tired of seeing students fully recognize the power of data over their course of study.
“I enjoy seeing students learn how to ask deeper questions as the semester unfolds,” he said. “A lightbulb goes off as they realize the impact of data, once they know how to use it.”
He said he is also pleased that Stonehill is creating opportunities for students to learn how to use data analytics to solve problems across various fields.
“I’m glad Stonehill is being proactive and not reactive when it comes to our data analytics program,” he said. “Our administrators realize the need for people who can analyze data is only continuing to grow.”