Program Director for Saint Mary's University of Minnesota's Online M.S. in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics Degree Says He Breeds Unicorns — and He's Not Kidding

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Saint Mary’s new online Master of Science degree teaches the rare trifecta skill set of business intelligence, big-data analytics, and presentation, in just one year.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota announces its new, online Master of Science in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics (M.S. BIDA) degree, starting in January 2018. Unlike similar-sounding programs from other universities, this degree teaches the trifecta of skills needed to access, understand, and present the opportunities big data offers, including the student’s choice of learning either R or Python programming language. It’s also strongly rooted to application-based learning, using real-time data and experiences from Fortune 500 companies. The degree is completed online in just one year — allowing students to flex when and where they learn to adjust to the rigorous demands of the program while maintaining a full-time job. Applications are due Dec 8, 2017. There is no GMAT required.

Who Is the M.S. BIDA Program For?
Business intelligence and data analytics is used across industries and departments to inform decision-making and implement highly successful solutions as managers answer questions like how to gain a competitive edge in business, where to save money in a supply chain, what’s the best pricing strategy, or how to optimize the workforce. The rapid increase and accessibility to big data gives managers in all departments — from marketing and analytics, to purchasing and HR, to business development and accounting — the power to answer, with pinpoint precision, the specific rational in identifying problems and a clear path to successful solutions.

Need for Degree
The challenges, demands, and opportunities of big data are many — the first of which is finding the professional who can understand the multiple perspectives data has to all stakeholders. Additionally, individuals need to have the capabilities of asking the right questions, pulling the data, analyzing it, and then presenting it visually in a way that makes the data understandable. Data visualization, or storytelling as it’s commonly referred to, is a powerful skill that humanizes big data and makes it clear to the rest of the organization. The combination of these skill sets is incredibly rare.

Program Director Michael Ratajczyk says, “At a recent TDWI conference filled with corporate professionals, a speaker described the ideal BIDA individual as a ‘unicorn,’ meaning their skill set is incredibly difficult to find in the deep-woods forest that is big data.” In response to this need, the online M.S. in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics at Saint Mary’s University focuses equally on the importance of business intelligence, big-data analytics, and presentation, so graduates are well versed in the most critically needed skill sets.

Ratajczyk continues, “When it was my turn to speak, I introduced myself by saying “… I’m the program director for Saint Mary’s University’s M.S. in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics program, and I breed unicorns,’ and just like that, I had everyone’s full attention from that moment on — the need for professionals with this skill set is overwhelming.”

Real-World Learning — The Breeding of the Unicorns
The online M.S. in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics exemplifies the definition of an experiential program. In it, students complete assignments using real-time data from Fortune 500 companies — sometimes pulled and delivered the same day as your course. Furthermore, no one cleans them up for you. Data sets remain “ugly” — they contain too much data, or too little. They can be corrupted. You’ll learn to work through these challenges as you need to in the corporate world. “No one is going to hand a manager exactly what they need to figure things out,” Ratajczyk says. “Nothing is perfect, least of all big data. Organizations need professionals with the capacity to do the research and figure things out. There’s an urgent need for individuals who can adapt to the realities of big data. Companies want to know how you’re able to humanize it to various stakeholders, and what you can do when faced with imperfect data. They want solutions, not excuses.”

To continue building real-world skill sets, the program offers two courses in program languages. Students take one to fulfill their graduation requirement, but they can opt to take both. “Learning R or Python allows you to effectively query big data and get the answers you need to effectively explain challenges and present successful solutions,” Ratajczyk says. Additionally, no less than three times throughout the program, student reports are critiqued by a panel of experts, again from Fortune 500 companies — providing insight and exposure to a rapidly growing skill set.

Visit for more information about the program or call 877-308-9954 to speak with an enrollment counselor today.

About Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota:
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota awakens, nurtures, and empowers learners to ethical lives of leadership and service. At Saint Mary’s, students find in every classroom—whether in person or online—a relationship-driven, person-centered education. Through intense inquiry, students discover the truths in the world and the character within. Founded in 1912 and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota enrolls 5,800 students at its residential undergraduate college in Winona and its Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs, based in Minneapolis but extending worldwide. Saint Mary’s offers respected and affordable programs in a variety of areas leading to bachelor's, bachelor's completion, master's, certificate, specialist, and doctoral degrees. Learn more at

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Brad Lundblad