CLEMSON — Clemson University’s business school will begin offering a Master of Business Administration program in analytics starting in the fall semester of 2016, making it the first South Carolina university to provide a dedicated business analytics focus for graduate students.

Recently approved by the board of trustees, the business analytics graduate program will include a cluster of analytics courses that employers are finding crucial to the success of 21st century businesses. Final approval for the program will come in the spring of 2016.

“The type of student seeking this degree will need core management skills, but will also need to feel comfortable processing data and making business decisions on large masses of that data,” said Jason Thatcher, business school management professor and director of Clemson’s Social Analytics Institute. “It’s where businesses are headed and what employers are wanting from employees today. This new MBA curriculum will enable Clemson’s business school to deliver a more holistic business education experience to students.”

In assessing the need for an analytics graduate program, business school leaders gathered feedback from industry professionals. The consensus was that gaps existed in universities’ curricula. One of those voids was in the area of understanding data analytics in a business setting.

“Discussions with industry professionals made it clear there was a strong and unfulfilled need in the market for employees with management and analytical skills,” said Greg Pickett, senior associate dean and director of MBA programs. “The MBA concentration in analytics will help fill knowledge gaps and give Clemson students a competitive edge in employment opportunities.”

The business analytics MBA concentration will also cater to current industry analysts who want to participate but are unable to take leave of absences from their workplaces, according to Bobby McCormick, interim business school dean.

“The addition of the analytics concentration will benefit students from all walks of life,” McCormick said. “This is a discipline modern businesses have told us they are wanting from their employees, and we are delivering. It’s one more way Clemson’s business school is preparing the next generation of business leaders for life in the real world.”