Posted 8 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022

UW-La Crosse's new major in business analytics is set to launch in January 2023. Professor Peter Haried, the program's lead faculty member, says the major will cover an array of disciplines and provide students with experiential learning opportunities.

Business analytics major set to launch in January

UW-La Crosse launched its business analytics minor at the worst possible time: the fall of 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But thanks to students and faculty who embraced the new minor — even in an online setting — the program thrived.

It has done so well, in fact, that the College of Business Administration is going a step further. In January 2023, the CBA will begin offering a business analytics major, allowing students to explore this multidisciplinary field in greater depth. The major was approved by the UW System Board of Regents in late September.

“We all know that fall 2020 might not have been the best timing to start a brand-new minor,” notes Professor Peter Haried, lead faculty member for the business analytics program — part of the Information Systems Department. “But the minor experienced tremendous growth over these past two years. It gave us proof of the need and overall interest in the business analytics area. The decision to pursue the major was the next logical step.”

To complete the program, students must earn 24 credits in the business analytics major, in addition to general studies and CBA core coursework.

The major includes courses in data visualization and communication, analytics in enterprise systems, business forecasting, performance analysis, management of business analytics, and more.

Because business analytics intersects with a variety of disciplines, students can take supplementary courses from inside and outside the CBA: accountancy, economics, finance, information systems, management, marketing, statistics, computer science and geography.

Additionally, students will gain experience with the analytics languages and applications used by industry leaders. Faculty will meet regularly with alumni and business partners to ensure the curriculum aligns with industry standards.

“This program demonstrates UWL’s and the CBA’s commitment to developing programs that align with the needs in the ever-changing business environment,” says Haried, noting that there will be plenty of hands-on, experiential learning opportunities.

“There are many ways we are going to be able to make an impact with the business community through projects, case completions and our overall engagement with the community,” he says. “Businesses need graduates with business analytics skills to make better business decisions, and our graduates are going to be able to provide this skill set and make an impact.”

Students who earn a bachelor’s degree in business analytics will be well-positioned for high-earning careers. Operational research analysts, market research analysts and management analysts are positions in high demand, and they offer salaries far above the national median.

Haried says he has heard from a number of local employers hoping to connect with students and get involved with the program. This will allow the CBA to bolster undergraduate research, internships, group collaboration and real-world learning opportunities.

Businesses have access to more data than ever before, Haried says. And yet, there are some that do not take full advantage of available data when making strategic decisions.

Through the new major, he says, students will gain data-driven insights that can help businesses and organizations prosper.

And while the program is launching with a strong foundation, Haried says it will maintain the flexibility to respond to emerging needs in the business community.

“In the information systems field, we say, ‘The only constant is change,’” he says. “We definitely plan to continue to change, adapt and evolve the program to align with the needs of our students and business organizations.”