Cal Poly’s M.S. Business Analytics Program Ranked Among the Nation’s Top 10

Cal Poly MS Business Analytics ranked among the top 10 in the recently ranked Cal Poly’s Master of Science in Business Analytics program among the top 10 master’s programs in the nation.

Cal Poly was ranked at No. 9 ahead of University of Texas at Austin. The top 10 also included M.S. Business Analytics programs at Columbia, UCLA, University of Pennsylvania, MIT and University of Virginia. The top spot went to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Cal Poly was one of two California programs ranked within the top 10.

The ranking’s methodology emphasized affordability and the strength of the academic program, including enrollment and retention rates, in-state tuition, and average 10 year earnings. Data was provided through a survey to the National Center for Education Statistics.

This is the first ranking for Cal Poly’s program, which launched in 2016 in the Orfalea College of Business. Its curriculum distinguishes itself from others with a focus on data visualization, strategy and storytelling in addition to data science. Students engage in interdisciplinary activities leading to three completed projects, by analyzing real world problems and data provided by industry partners including Oracle and Dignity Health.

For more information on the ranking, visit

Iris Huang Tackles the Business Analytics Field

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is giving graduate student Iris Huang the knowledge, skills and connections to succeed in one of today’s hottest fields: data analytics.

Every Chinese New Year, Iris Huang would save the money she received in the traditional red envelopes limned in gold. She remembers being just 6 years old and putting the cash in a cookie jar for safekeeping.

The first-grader had told her class she hoped to be the first in her family to go to college. A boy then snarled at her, “You know that costs like $50,000, right?” That unkind comment was what first spurred her to start saving.

As she grew up, Huang knew she had the grades and the motivation to earn a degree, but she also realized the cookie-jar savings clearly weren’t going to suffice.

“I had always wanted to go to college, for as long as I could remember,” Huang explains. “I studied really hard and did my best in school, but I didn’t know if this dream would ever be achievable because I came from a very low-income household.”

It wasn’t until she met with a high school counselor that she learned about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. “I remember feeling so relieved … Going to college became a possibility because of financial aid,” Huang says.

When it came time to choose a university, Huang knew only that the school would have to be affordable and give her a hands-on learning environment.

She turned to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

The White-Hot Field of Big Data
Thanks to a number of Advanced Placement high school courses under her belt when she arrived at Cal Poly in 2014, Huang was able to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business and a concentration in information systems in just three years.

Now in her fourth year, she’s enrolled in the graduate business analytics program, part of Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business.

“Before [Cal Poly], I never thought I would even go near the tech field. I didn’t even know business analytics existed,” Huang notes. “Cal Poly has its ‘Learn by Doing’ philosophy, which really resonated with me. A lot of our students are conducting and leading their own projects.”

In the simplest terms, big data analytics involves gathering, organizing, analyzing, and communicating copious amounts of information.

“You can analyze basically anything using big data analysis tools,” says Huang. “My favorite part is visualizing findings and uncovering the story hidden in the data. It’s much easier to show a graph to someone who is unfamiliar with a topic versus showing them a bunch of numbers.”

Data analytics — a field the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will grow 27 percent by 2026 — is so new and quickly evolving that it will almost certainly give Huang her pick of jobs.

“We are learning how to organize data, find insights from the data, and communicate this to executives and key decision makers,” says the 21-year-old.

“You can do pretty much whatever you want with [the degree]. Big data is such a powerful tool.”

Connecting with Industry
If a degree is only as good as its ability to transform your life and your career, there’s already evidence that Huang is on her way to doing meaningful work.

“Getting into the graduate program at San Luis Obispo got me so much more exposure to big data and allowed me to get my foot in the door,” says the first Cal Poly Scholar, a need-based scholarship program, to graduate from Orfalea.

“At the CSU, we as students have so many industry connections available to us,” continues Huang, adding that contacts she’s made have led to internships at Kaiser Permanente and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. At Kaiser, she learned how to diagnose patients using big data by running patients’ lab results through an algorithm written by doctors; the formula could determine who was at risk for certain diseases.

“Sometimes doctors would miss a diagnosis. These projects identified people who would have otherwise been unaware of their illness and helped them get proper treatment,” she explains.

“My parents heavily emphasized education growing up,” says Huang, who also speaks Cantonese and Mandarin and immigrated from China with her parents at the age of 3. “They truly believe education has transformative powers … to make the positive changes in the world you want, allowing you to break out of your socioeconomic situation.”

That message is not unlike the one that has permeated Huang’s time at the CSU: “At Cal Poly, they teach us to not just focus on the technical aspects, but also be sure to focus on your personal values and what you want to get out of your career.”

Learn more about Cal Poly’s Master of Science in Business Analtyics program.

Iris’ article was written by the CSU and appeared as a CSU Profile. Visit the original page.

Cal Poly Announces New Masters Program in Business Analytics

Orfalea College of Business recently announced its new Master of Science in Business Analytics program, pending final approval by the California State University Chancellor’s Office. The on-campus program will welcome its inaugural class in the fall of 2016. The new 10-month comprehensive program will focus on data-based problem solving for the next generation of business leaders.

Prospective students wishing to learn more about fall admissions for the new MS in Business Analytics program are invited to participate in Cal Poly’s free webinar on Thursday, November 12th at 11:00 AM-12:00 PM PST. 12th at 11:00 AM-12:00 PM PST.

To sign up for the webinar, go to:

“We believe that the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly is uniquely positioned to serve the analytical talent needs of industries in California and beyond,” said Sanjiv Jaggia, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, Orfalea College of Business. “The MS in Business Analytics is an outstanding program that builds on a broad bench of faculty with advanced modeling skills and business acumen. It is distinct from any other graduate program at Cal Poly.”

Cal Poly’s MS in Business Analytics program emphasizes industry projects, statistical modeling and communication skills.

The program offers a holistic approach to data analytics, combining qualitative reasoning with quantitative tools to identify key business problems, translate them into relevant data questions, and apply data analytics to tell a story and propose concrete business actions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the data analyst job category is expected to grow 45% by 2018, making it one of the fastest-growing career fields. Unlike many fields in the ultra-competitive marketplace, the projected supply of well-qualified candidates will not meet demand, a problem that Cal Poly has directly responded to in building the innovative, interdisciplinary curriculum.

To ensure the quality and impact of the new graduate program, Orfalea College of Business assembled the Business Analytics Advisory Board (BAAB). Members of the BAAB include top data analytics professionals across a host of blue-chip companies including Google, Oracle, Cisco, Walmart and more.

Cal Poly business analytics students will have the opportunity to work on a culminating project in which they will use data analysis to solve the real world problems these companies face on a day-to-day basis.

“Equipped with the right combination of analytical and interdisciplinary skills, our graduates will be able to synthesize, communicate, and act on information to create competitive advantages for business. Graduates will also be able to serve as a critical link among senior management, data scientists, and clients,” said Jaggia.

In regards to employment prospects, Jaggia asserts that graduates of the MS in Business Analytics program can expect to find exciting employment opportunities across a host of industries, including consulting, retail, financial services, marketing, health care, technology, and sports.

“Here at Oracle, we know there is a tremendous demand for new business school graduates with the ability to glean competitive insights from the massive amounts of data being generated today,” said Jeff Henley, executive vice chairman at Oracle and member of the Business Analytics Advisory Board. “Oracle already looks to Cal Poly as a major source of new hires for its Sales Academy, based on the quality and preparation of the students coming out of the business school. An MS program in Business Analytics will only add to the appeal of Cal Poly as a go-to source of finance and business administration talent for innovative companies in the Bay Area and beyond.”