Duke Fuqua Launches Big Data Certificate For MBAs

Duke Fuqua Launches Big Data Certificate For MBAs

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business is launching new MBA certificate in “Management Science and Technology Management”, adding to the boom in data science courses in top US MBA programs.  

The certificate is available to current daytime MBA students and will require the completion of eight electives from a menu of qualifying classes. 

“This area of study is so important to business today,” said senior associate dean Russ Morgan. “Every aspect of business is being enhanced by analytics in some way. People who can identify insights, explain the business implications effectively, and put action behind that information have a huge competitive advantage.” 

Fuqua expects the certificate to qualify for designation as a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program, which could have visa implications for students who graduate with the certificate and go to work in STEM-related jobs. According to Duke’s latest career report, 19% of last year’s MBA cohort went to work at technology companies, with Amazon and Microsoft among the program’s top-five recruiters.

Students could access visas to work in high-demand sections of the US economy 

“It could mean students who are eligible could receive an additional 24 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT),” Morgan said. OPT enables graduate students to work for one year on a student visa in high-demand sections of the US economy. 

This will be particularly beneficial for Duke given the negative immigration rhetoric coming out of the US, which has contributed to a fall in applications at most US business schools this year, according to a new survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council. The percentage of international students at Duke’s MBA class this year is around 40%. 


The certificate program builds upon an earlier push into data analytics by Duke, which this year launched a Master of Quantitative Management degree program.

“We were hearing from companies that there was a skills gap between being able to identify insights from big data and translating that information into business functions,” said the school’s dean, Bill Boulding. “This was a no-brainer for us in leveraging our faculty’s strengths to train analysts in how to use and communicate data to influence decision-making in companies.” 

Growing demand for big data managers

Other elite US schools have launched data science courses for MBAs to cater for intensifying demand for managers who can use data to make better business decisions. According to PwC, the management consultancy firm, there are more than 800,000 job posts for data-driven decision makers, such as chief information officers and financial managers, in industries such as finance, healthcare and technology. McKinsey & Company, another consultancy firm, said there will be a shortage of 190,000 skilled data scientists, and 1.5 million managers and analysts capable of reaping actionable insights from the big data deluge, by 2018. 

As a result, Harvard Business School said in August it was launching an online business analytics program for MBAs as employer demand for leaders who can crunch data to make better decisions skyrockets. Participants will study at a distance, and develop core skills in the fundamentals of analytics, software design, architecture and data science. 


Others have preferred to launch standalone master’s programs, offering a more in-depth dive into data science. Last year, MIT Sloan launched a master of business analytics degree priced at US$75,000. Other schools – such as London’s Imperial College Business School, NYU Stern, USC Marshall School of Business and Melbourne Business School – also offer specialist master’s degrees in business analytics.

Seb Murray
Written by Seb Murray

Seb is a journalist and consulting editor who has developed a successful track record writing about business, education and technology for the international press.

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