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Columbia University Focuses on Big Data Analysis with Two Online Graduate Programs

In an effort to address anticipated needs in big data analysis, Columbia University will launch online versions of its Master of Arts in Statistics and Master of Science in Actuarial Science programs. Beginning fall 2013, the programs will be offered on campus, online, or in hybrid format (with both on-campus and online elements), and represent a collaboration between the university's Department of Statistics, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and School of Continuing Education.

According to a university announcement, the new online programs will be delivered through the School of Continuing Education's online learning platform and will use "social technologies" as well as weekly face-to-face lecture sessions to help build a sense of community among participants.

"We are delighted to be able to bring the experience of a rigorous Columbia graduate education online," said Carlos Alonso, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and vice president for graduate education, in a prepared statement.

Referring to the 2011 McKinsey report, "Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition, and Productivity," the university said the programs have been designed to address a shortage in the number of skilled workers trained to interpret large amounts of data for a range of industries, including insurance, consulting, finance, and manufacturing. The university pointed specifically to growth in the insurance and financial services sectors and the increasing need for skilled actuaries to assess and measure risk.

"We live in an increasingly data-driven world in which the ability to access data and to conduct sophisticated and value generating analyses of those data opens up myriad exciting career possibilities. This trend is unstoppable," said David Madigan, professor and chair of the Department of Statistics, in a prepared statement.

According to the University, the Master of Science in Actuarial Science is designed for recent graduates, associate actuaries, or professionals interested in transitioning into a new field. The Master of Arts in Statistics program will emphasize the use of new and innovative technologies to analyze large datasets and is geared toward students interested in statistical methods, financial math, and data mining.

About the Author

Chris Riedel is a freelance writer based in Illinois. He can be reached here.

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