CLEMSON — Business and science are joining forces at Clemson University to satisfy a marketplace appetite for business professionals who are capable of analyzing and applying big data to their strategic decision-making.

Illustration of people at a table using big data analysis Beginning in July, the College of Business and College of Science are collaborating to offer a Master of Science in Data Science and Analytics. The degree will be offered totally online and will cater to working professionals.

“Graduates with this interdisciplinary degree will have a high level of analytical skill that will enable them to use big data in making strategic business decisions,” said Sri Sridharan, management department professor and past chair. “The impetus to offer this degree was in part a result of feedback we received in focus groups comprised of business professionals from a three-state area.”

Joining Sridharan as a catalyst in moving the program through approval processes in the university and the state Commission for Higher Education was Ellen Breazel, senior lecturer in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.

Breazel, who will be the program coordinator, said the degree will consist of 10 courses, five of them in mathematical and statistical sciences and five in management.

“This is a holistic program in that it crosses over the statistics, mathematics and business management disciplines,” she said. “It will train students how to use, manage and apply data science and analytics in their everyday decision-making.”

Breazel and Sridharan said there are no required prerequisites, but some background in quantitative reasoning, through coursework or work experience, is recommended.

IBM predicts the demand for data scientists will increase 28 percent by 2020. The fields of application include marketing, management, human resources and military, to name a few.

“Currently, businesses are putting competent people in these roles, but they don’t have the background in using and managing this meaningful information to make business-critical decisions,” Sridharan added.

Wendy York, dean of the College of Business, said the marketplace is demanding business analytics skillsets. And, by offering the new degree, she said, Clemson is getting ahead of the curve to meet that demand.

“The collaboration of business and science on this new degree program is addressing the insatiable demand business has for data scientists and it aligns with goals set forth by ClemsonForward’s strategic plan,” York said. “We have created a program that will advance careers and benefit businesses, but it also addresses advancing the big data agenda, which is one of the university’s strategic innovation areas of focus.”

Cynthia Y. Young, founding dean of the College of Science, concurred that interdisciplinary collaboration at Clemson is growing and will continue to address marketplace needs.

“I would like to extend special thanks to our faculty in business and science who recognized an emerging industry need and united their collective talents and expertise to develop such a relevant new graduate program,” she said. “Together, we will help industry professionals better harness the power of data science and analytics to guide their strategic decision-making.”

Breazel said more and more businesses are realizing the value big data can bring to their success.

“Business leaders told us what skills they needed in this growing professional competency,” Breazel said. “We listened and developed a program that addresses those needs. But it also is going to help more businesses as they realize the value proper use of big data can bring to their bottom lines.”

For more information and to register, visit the program’s website , or email msdsa@clemson.edu.