The second MSBA cohort gathers for a welcome reception during the Ithaca residency.

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Insights in Ithaca: Second MSBA cohort completes residency

The Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) degree program from Cornell's Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management received a record-breaking number of applicants for its second year and recently welcomed 69 students to campus for a weeklong residency in Ithaca, New York. The program’s newest class represents a diverse array of industries, including finance, technology, health care, manufacturing, retail and human resources. 

“We received so many outstanding applications for our second MSBA cohort and we are thrilled to welcome our newest class to our Johnson family,” said Jamie Hintlian, current director for the MSBA program and visiting lecturer in operations, technology and information management. “This MSBA program is so unique because it goes beyond theory and immerses students in practical, real-world applications of their learning. The flexible curriculum offered through eCornell, combined with the residency experiences, empowers students to become collaborative, data-driven problem solvers.” 

Students earn the MSBA degree part-time over 16 months and 19 online courses. Each cohort participates in two summer residencies – one in Ithaca at the program’s start and one at Cornell Tech in New York City where students share their final term capstone presentations on solving real-life problems in their chosen concentrations.

In addition to advancing their skills in the residency’s rigorous workshops, the new students received encouragement from the inaugural program’s class representatives during a meet and greet and engaged in a case competition, scavenger hunt, Cornell Outdoor Education activities, group dinners and an ice cream social with a special guest: Cornell’s mascot Touchdown.

The MSBA cohort enjoys an ice cream social with special guest Touchdown, Cornell’s mascot.

The Ithaca experience was a chance not only to learn but to foster camaraderie, according to Gabri Varela, one of three newly elected MSBA class representatives and a senior associate with Alvarez & Marsal in Washington, D.C.

“The residency week was an unbelievable educational and bonding experience. It allowed me to create relationships that now extend outside the program,” Varela said. “It increased my confidence ten-fold by being surrounded by like-minded students whose professional ambitions align with my own and professors who challenge us to rethink what we already know.”

The MSBA is designed to help professionals understand data in the context of business and translate that information into actionable insights in any industry – a skill that is growing in demand. Employment of management analysts and data scientists is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations over the next eight years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, making analytics proficiency attractive to organizations that rely on data to drive decision-making. 

Jesse Ahmed, a research analyst for the engineering and scientific consulting firm Exponent and representative for the new MSBA class, agrees that the program is valuable for professionals across industries and produces results. 

“The residential session was extremely engaging and pushed us into refining our teamwork and leadership skills. Being able to actively network in person with the intelligent people in my cohort has already given me new opportunities – and we have only just begun,” Ahmed said. “Being able to still work while developing new skills allows me to apply to higher level positions while [studying], and I am in talks with another member of the cohort to do some shadowing in a field that I was interested in but didn't have the opportunity to attempt.”

This level of partnership and mentorship is possible, in part, due to the MSBA program’s small class sizes and the relationships students develop first through remote learning via eCornell and then during the residencies.

“The residency week not only taught me skills that I will be able to leverage professionally, but also introduced me to a diverse group of classmates that make me feel proud to be a student at Cornell,” said class representative Logan Margo, a data analyst for Level60 Consulting. “In one short week you feel like a part of a community that values your thoughts and truly cares about you.”

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