Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the 2022 UC Davis Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) Practicum Project application process. Please find below the information to help your company or organization propose an analytics project to work with UC Davis MSBA students and faculty.

What is the UC Davis Master of Science in Business Analytics Program?

Launched in Fall 2017, the UC Davis MSBA program is a one-year program focused on developing high-performance professionals who can create business value from data, analytics and insights. Its guiding principle is that sustainable business value is created by professionals with the perspective to ask the right business questions, the technical chops to deploy the right data science tools, and the managerial savvy to lead organizational change. This program is located in San Francisco, the heart of innovation and the Big Data revolution.

What is the UC Davis MSBA Practicum Project?

Our program revolves around a company-focused analytical project, in which a team of 5-7 MSBA students works with the firm over a 9-month period. The team of students are supervised by a group of faculty and industry mentors and are supported as needed by faculty with specific expertise (e.g., machine learning, advanced statistics, data architecture, etc.) as well as teaching assistants.  The objective is to learn by integrating and applying a cross-section of analytics skills to real business problems. Each student dedicates one-two days per week for a total of 1,500+ hours of student effort on your specific project.

The expectation for the student team is to traverse the entire lifecycle of a real-world project, including project scoping, exploratory data analysis, development and deployment.  The project will end with a persuasive pitch to partner executives on the value of the outcomes, which may include deliverables such as fully functioning prototypes, data architectures, statistical models, machine learning algorithms, dashboards, or web-based decision support tools. 

Why would a company want to sponsor an MSBA practicum project?

There are several benefits that you will receive by sponsoring an MSBA project:

  • A team of highly motivated MSBA students will work on a project of your choosing that will likely create significant value for your organization.   
  • Given their diverse backgrounds and extensive training, MSBA students will often uncover unique insights and solutions that may be missed by your internal analytics teams.
  • Companies have assigned data scientists on their staff to lead the student teams which provides leadership opportunities to develop their internal team members.
  • Sponsoring companies have hired top MSBA students following their graduation although it is not a requirement to hire our students.
  • Companies enhance their brands by providing educational support to their community.

What are the characteristics of a great practicum project?

A typical MSBA project is an initiative that the partner organization considers important, but one that may not be urgent enough to qualify for internal resources in the near-term.

Projects use data, technology, and algorithms to examine something of value to the organization, either an ongoing business process (e.g., "develop and implement algorithms that optimize weekly promotions to consumers while incorporating mobile app-provided data about location and spending habits"), or a one-time activity (e.g., "where should the organization locate its next distribution center").

Techniques used may be span descriptive analytics (e.g., understanding how consumer-specific and product-related attributes govern a consumer's journey through a purchase conversion funnel), predictive analytics (e.g., identifying the impact of a new product feature on future sales and margin), and prescriptive analytics (e.g., advising phone sales representatives on the best offers to make to prospects based on real-time information).

What is the project proposal process?

The MSBA Industry Partner committee evaluates submitted project proposals starting in April preceding the typical September start of the MSBA. The committee reviews each proposal for depth, complexity and opportunity. Key acceptance criteria are:

  • Significant potential business impact (in revenue, profit, or equivalent indicator)
  • Clear statement of project goals for the proposing organization
  • Identified project staff committed to project objectives
  • Description of project-related data and high-level estimate of data readiness

Who are the partner organizations?

MSBA industry partners range from Fortune 500s to late-stage startups to non-profit organizations. See our past partners.

What additional documents are needed?

Industry partners sign nondisclosure and intellectual property agreements with each team member and with faculty associated with the practicum.

Are the projects considered work for hire or research?

No. The students are getting course credit for this practicum project. The practicum is not an internship or work for hire. These collaborations are instructor-supervised student projects resulting in course grades.

How is information about the partner organization shared with students?

Partner organizations typically work with their computing/data department to find out the best way to share information with the students. Some companies grant access to a secure cloud server.

Please contact Shachi Govil with any queries or to submit a practicum project proposal.

Learn more about our MSBA.