Economics and Decision Sciences

Business Analytics

Program Details

The Department of Economics and Decision Sciences now offers a Baccalaureate of Business major to students interested in the field of Business Analytics. This program brings together the College of Business and Technology core with the technical skills of data mining, statistical modeling, and forecasting for data driven decision-making and for solving the analytical problems of the contemporary business world. Students keen to master the fundamentals of data-analysis, learn applications of business analytics, and learn useful statistical methods will especially benefit from the high-demand baccalaureate program in Business Analytics – the first of its kind in Illinois.

The BB in Business Analytics a comprehensive major in that it supplements an emphasis on technical applications with the College of Business and Technology core courses, with exposure to Accounting, Management, Marketing, and Finance. Additionally, BB students must complete courses such as Applied Calculus, Business Communications, and Forecasting as part of the Business core.

The Economics and Decision Sciences department has an innovative approach to career development. A series of “emphases” have been created to assist Business Analytics majors in preparing for a particular career of interest. Students will choose one of four areas of emphasis to help prepare them for their future career paths: Applied Statistics, Business Applications, Information Systems, or Supply Chain Management.

The objectives of the Business Analytics program are to impart a unique skills set unto our students, allowing them to interpret and draw inference from quantitative data and to enable them to effectively communicate their observations. Graduates of this program are well suited to pursue careers in almost any field of business, as well as in science, technology, computer science, health care, government, and education. The program is closely related to degree programs in Economics, Applied Statistics and Decision Analytics, Business Administration and Mathematics, and is the only business STEM major in the College of Business and Technology.

Student Activities

The Department of Economics and Decision Science advises a student-run organization committed to the promotion of business analytics through skills training and professional development of its members. It takes a professional trip at least once every semester. Typically, they travel to Chicago or St. Louis.

As a member, you will have the opportunity to help organize Analytics Day, which provides all students with an opportunity to meet and interact with our alumni. You will have an opportunity to participate in our Career Development Program as well. This program is designed to prepare you for both a career and for the job search.

A team of our students recently went to Chicago to participate in a nationwide Data Science competition, DataFest, sponsored by the American Statistical Association and hosted by Loyola University for Chicago area Universities. Within less than 48 hours, the team explored the data, raised interesting questions, and provided insightful solutions. In the end there was a five-minute presentation to demonstrate their skills and teamwork.

Majors are also strongly encouraged to participate in student organizations related to other disciplines, service organizations, and other College- and University-level organizations.

Additional Resources

Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, is quoted as saying that analytics is the “real sexy job for the 2010s” and beyond. Due to the shortage of skilled analysts, demand for graduates of business analytics programs is swelling. Business and data analysts routinely makes the Harvard Business Review list of “best jobs.” According to McKinsey and Company’s “Big Data Report,” there is an estimated shortage of approximately 190,000 professionals in analytics. The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics indicates that the estimated job growth in this area is approximately 19% nationally by 2024 and is therefore “much faster than average,” with more than 500 new job opening annually in Illinois alone.

We have a history of placing interns and graduates at regional employers, such as State Farm, John Deere, Ace Hardware, and others. After working with one of our Business Analytics minor students, Caterpillar praised the experience so highly that they now actively recruit our students. Graduates find employment broadly in financial institutions, many types of corporations, consulting firms, economic development organizations and government.

No matter what your career interests, you will be encouraged to earn academic credit through faculty supervised research, internships, and study abroad programs. Internships are a “capstone” experience enhancing your attractiveness to employers. Employers also value an appreciation of the global nature of the world which you can acquire through one of the many study abroad programs offered at Western.

A unique career development program will assist you in identifying and acquiring those skills employment experts identify as necessary for success. The program provides guidance in selecting courses and activities that will strengthen these skills.

Alumni Job Titles

Within 5 Years of Graduation
  • Bank Tachnical Analyst
  • Business Account Executive
  • Business Operations Manager
  • Digital Optimization Analyst
  • Pricing Analyst
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Management Analyst
  • Revenue Analyst
5+ Years Past Graduation
  • Analytic Consultant
  • Competitive Intelligence Analyst
  • Data Analyst
  • Data Scientist
  • Economic or Financial Analyst
  • Forecast Manager
  • Product Marketing Manager

A degree in Business Analytics is very marketable and offers challenging opportunities, career flexibility, and financial rewards. Virtually no other academic major offers the opportunities for growth and flexibility in employment. Salaries for Analysts are majors are growing faster than in almost any major; demand for skilled graduates far exceeds the current supply. Graduates find employment broadly in financial institutions, many types of corporations, consulting firms, economic development organizations and government.

Employers of Alumni

  • Ace Hardware
  • BP (British Petroleum)
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Caterpillar Logistics Services
  • GEA Farm Technologies
  • Greenlee Textron
  • John Deere
  • Principal International
  • State Farm Bank
  • State Farm Insurance
  • U.S. Department of the Treasury
  • Wells Fargo

Please refer to the undergraduate catalog for detailed program information and course requirements.

Course Descriptions

DECISION SCIENCES (DS)

200 Introduction to Business Analytics. (3) An introduction to the basic methods and techniques essential to the field of business analytics. Topics include models for summarizing and visualizing data, use of spreadsheets for examining and building decision models, and introduction to optimization and forecasting models.

303 Applied Business Forecasting and Regression Analysis. (3) A survey of the basic methods and techniques that are available for business forecasting including moving average and exponential smoothing techniques; classical decomposition; and simple, multiple, and time series regression techniques. Prerequisite: STAT 171.

321 Data Visualization for Decision Making. (3) This course provides an introduction to the process and methods of visualizing information for the purpose of communicating actionable findings in a decision-making context. Hands-on experience with software for sourcing, organizing, analyzing, comprehending, reducing, and visualizing data. Prerequisites: DS 200 and STAT 171 or equivalent; or consent of instructor.

423 Management Science Techniques and Business Analytics. (3) An introduction to management science/ operations research techniques. Students are introduced to theory and applications of linear, integer, goal, and dynamic programming models; transportation, assignment, network and inventory models; PERT/CPM, capital budgeting, and decision theory. Prerequisite: STAT 171 or equivalent.

435 Applied Data Mining for Business Decision- Making. (3) This course provides an introduction to data mining methods for business applications. Students will learn the basics of data selection, preparation, statistical modeling, and analysis aimed at the identification of knowledge fulfilling organizational objectives. Prerequisite: STAT 171 or consent of instructor.

460 Independent Study in Decision Sciences. (1–3, repeatable to 3) Independent research on topics in Decision Sciences mutually selected by student and instructor. Prerequisites: DS 303 and senior standing, with written consent of department chairperson.

480 Predictive Analytics. (3) A survey of topics in predictive analytics methods and techniques essential for business analysts. Topics include time series regression, logistic regression, neural networks, decision trees, ensemble models, and simulation models for understanding the effect of uncertainty. Prerequisites: STAT 171 and DS 303 or equivalent; or consent of instructor.

490 Statistical Software for Data Management and Decision Making. (3, repeatable to 6 for different titles) This course provides students with the basic concepts of statistical computing. Students will gain experience with statistical software packages, such as SAS, R, or SPSS, and their applications. Methods of data preparation and validation, analysis, and reporting will be covered. Prerequisites: STAT 171 or equivalent, or PSY 223, or SOC 324, or POLS 284, or consent of department chairperson.

497 Senior Analytics Seminar. (3) Preparation for post-academic success in analytics careers including job market readiness activities and developing the senior portfolio of analytics work. All Business Analytics majors are required to complete the skills assessment exam. Graded S/U only.

Contact

Economics and Decision Sciences

Dr. Tara Feld, Interim Chair/Associate Professor
Email: TN-Feld@wiu.edu
Location: Stipes Hall 430
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455-1390
Phone: (309) 298-1153
Fax: (309) 298-1020

Economics and Decision Sciences Website

Economics and Decision Sciences Directory

College of Business & Technology (CBT)

Dr. John A. Elfrink, Interim Dean
Email: JA-Elfrink@wiu.edu
CBT Email: cbt@wiu.edu
Location: Stipes Hall 101
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455-1390
Phone: (309) 298-2442
Fax: (309) 298-1039

CBT Website

CBT Directory

Economics and Decision Sciences Advising

Andrea Riebling, Academic Advisor
Business Disciplines (A-I)
Email: AN-Riebling@wiu.edu

Chris Ramsey, Academic Advisor
Business Disciplines (J-L)
Email: CK-Ramsey@wiu.edu

Sara Lytle, Director/Academic Advisor
Business Disciplines (M-O)
Email: SM-Lytle@wiu.edu

Anna James, Academic Advisor
Business Disciplines (P-Z)
Email: AL-James@wiu.edu

Macomb: Stipes Hall 133
Phone: (309) 298-1619
Website: Stipes Hall Advising

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