Missouri Southern State University students will eventually have access to a new degree program.
The university’s Board of Governors on Friday approved the creation of a master’s of science degree in data analysis. The field, with wide applications in many professions, is in demand across the world; the degree is expected to draw interest among both continuing and international students.
“This is a growing area of demand for workforce development,” said Dominic Buccieri, assistant professor of international business. “We see this as a great credential for students to earn highly qualified positions.”
In addition to the master’s degree, the university also approved a graduate certification for the same subject, giving students two different options — a brief 12-hour study into foundations or a 30-hour deep dive into specific programming languages and data handling.
The program’s courses will be offered at night and online to accommodate the university’s target of working professionals.
The field is attractive, Buccieri said, because it helps people draw better conclusions from a growing pool of data.
“There is a great interest in learning how to work with data,” Buccieri said. “Everyone might have access, but no one knows how to get the story out. This helps in how to understand data, what stories can be told and how to communicate those stories.”
The university does not currently offer a bachelor’s degree in the subject. Buccieri said that is a possibility in the future, but for now, there is a need to increase master’s degree offerings for professionals.
The new degree program and certification joined others approved Friday by the board:
• A bachelor of science in chemistry with a biochemistry emphasis. The program calls for 120 hours and adds options for dental and medical students participating in the university’s partnership with KCU Joplin.
• An undergraduate certification in global Black studies, under the university’s history program. It calls for 15 hours and can enhance degrees in a number of subjects, including social studies, fine arts, education, business, criminal justice and health sciences.
• An undergraduate certification in behavioral neuroscience, intended to bolster a developing field in psychology.
All of the new programs are expected to be offered for the fall 2023 semester.
In other meeting business, the board heard the results of an annual financial audit.
Officials with Forvis, the firm hired to conduct the audit, gave a clean report with no modifications for the university’s financial statements. Auditors noted that it marked the ninth consecutive annual audit with a clean report.
An increase of about $7 million in cash on hand, compared to last year’s audit, was attributed to bond proceeds intended for construction. The audit also reported about $2 million in fewer revenues from tuition fees compared to last year.
While the financial statements were found to be unmodified and clean, the audit discovered an incorrect calculation involving financial aid owed to the university when a student withdraws from classes, and the omission of a piece of data required by federal standards. Neither error had an effect on the financial statements, according to the auditors.
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