Practicum Sponsorship

Let our students transform your data into actionable insights. Sponsor a practicum team and go from data to decisions in eight months, under full confidentiality, and at no charge.
studentsThe Master of Science in Analytics (MSA) prepares students for the challenging task of deriving insights from vast quantities of structured and unstructured data. At the core of the MSA curriculum is the Practicum: a team-based learning experience that gives students the opportunity to conduct real-world analytics projects using data from sponsoring organizations. Students work in teams of 4-5 members each to understand the business problem, and then clean and analyze the data. The Practicum spans eight months and culminates with a report and presentation to the sponsor. The teams perform their work under confidentiality agreements and the results are the sole property of the respective sponsors. There is no sponsorship fee. Past projects now total 110 in number with over 80 sponsors spanning virtually every industry segment—aerospace, agriculture, apparel, banking and financial services, chemicals, computers, consulting, consumer products, e-commerce, energy, entertainment, government, healthcare, heavy machinery, insurance, lodging, marketing and advertising, pharmaceuticals, professional sports, publishing, retail, technology, telecommunications, and transportation—and include some of the world’s leading organizations and best known brands.


The Institute seeks organizations that are interested in sponsoring a team project for the coming academic year. The sponsor will identify a challenging business problem and provide data for the team to analyze. Below are guidelines for organizations that wish to submit a proposal.

Basic Requirements

The proposal consists of three components: (1) a concise description of the problem to be addressed and the goal of the project; (2) the nature and size of the data set to be analyzed; and (3) the names of the key contacts within the sponsoring organizations.

MSA students are equipped with a variety of skills and professional experience. Each team will have skills in statistics, data cleaning, data modeling and visualization, computer programming, and with using industry-standard analytical software tools, such as SAS. Students also receive instruction in teamwork, project management and communication skills.

Team Assignments

Students are assigned to teams based on their skills, experience, and compatibility, to achieve the necessary balance given the needs of the project. The team leader is appointed by the Institute. The team members assign specific roles for themselves.

Project Selection

Projects are selected based on the proposal’s fit with the overall educational goals of the MSA program. It is helpful, but not required, for organizations to have experience working with universities and specifically with sponsoring student projects. Some of the criteria used to select projects include:

  • Educational value
  • Likelihood of success
  • Level of challenge and complexity
  • Clarity of project goals
  • Sponsor motivation and commitment
  • Kind and amount of data
  • Accessibility to specialized software tools, if needed

The number of projects we can conduct is currently limited to 24. We aim to select a variety of projects each year and typically evaluate over 60 proposals. A viable proposal not chosen for a student team in the current round can be placed in a queue for future assignment. We continually look for opportunities to work with new sponsors and new industry segments.



Confidentiality is a key element of how the projects are conducted. Unlike a master’s thesis, which is published, the Practicum does not have a public disclosure requirement. Only members of the team have access to their sponsor’s data. Sponsors do not under any circumstance provide personally identifiable information, and will only share data in a manner that is consistent with their third-party data transfer rules.

Students receive instruction in data privacy and security, and the law with respect to non-disclosure agreements. Because students are not employees of the university, they must individually consent to the sponsor’s NDA before being assigned to a project.

Sponsor Commitments

Each sponsor is required to:

  • provide the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to be signed by student team;
  • securely transfer the promised data to the team on the specified timetable;
  • assign a liaison, who will be the team’s primary point of contact to resolve various issues as they may arise;
  • provide technical and strategic guidance, as needed, to ensure the project remains on the desired course;
  • host the team for the kick-off and/or final presentation on-site, if possible.

The sponsor is not expected to provide ongoing project management and oversight—this is done by the Institute.

Sponsorship Fees

There is no fee charged to sponsor a Practicum project. However, we recognize there is a cost involved to participate in terms of the time and effort required by individuals sponsoring a project.

We would be grateful to the sponsor for deferring all or part of the expense, if any, to have the student team travel to the sponsor location for the kick-off meeting and/or final presentation.

Proposal Submission

Proposals are submitted online and accepted throughout the year. The Institute is always ready to begin a dialogue with a prospective sponsor. There are two formal reviews with submission deadlines. Once a proposal receives the green light, it’s place in the queue for the next round of project kick-offs. Proposals submitted early in the annual cycle have the best chance of acceptance. An organization may submit more than one proposal.
Proposal Submission Form

  • First round proposal review: April 1
  • Second round proposal review: July 1
  • Sponsors for current year selected by August 1
  • All arrangements including NDA and secure data transfer completed by: September 1
  • Project kick-off meetings held between September 15-30
  • Midpoint review meeting by December 1
  • Final presentation to sponsor held in end of April

More Information

For more information about becoming a Practicum project sponsor, please feel welcome to contact Dr. Christopher West, the Institute’s practicum manager. We will be glad to work with you in formulating your proposal.


Practicum Sponsors

Past Sponsors

  • AAA Carolinas (Charlotte, NC)
  • Allscripts (Chicago, IL)
  • Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto, Canada)
  • AT&T (Dallas, TX)
  • Baltimore Ravens (Baltimore, MD)
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC)
  • CA (Raleigh, NC)
  • Cargill (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Carlson Marketing Worldwide (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Caterpillar (Peoria, IL)
  • Central Intelligence Agency (McLean, VA)
  • Cigna (Bloomfield, CT)
  • Cisco Systems (San Jose, CA)
  • Citrix Sharefile (Raleigh, NC)
  • Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, OH)
  • Constellation Energy (Baltimore, MD)
  • CrescoAG Corporation (Memphis, TN)
  • Crete Carrier (Lincoln, NE)
  • Deere & Company (Moline, IL)
  • Deloitte (Hartford, CT)
  • Deluxe Corporation (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Detica (Washington, DC)
  • Dex One (Cary, NC)
  • Disney (Orlando, FL)
  • Dude Solutions (Cary, NC)
  • Eastman Chemical (Kingsport, TN)
  • eBay (San Jose, CA)
  • Elder Research (Charlottesville, VA)
  • Estée Lauder Companies (New York, NY)
  • Federal Communications Commission (Washington, DC)
  • GE Energy (Atlanta, GA)
  • GlaxoSmithKline (Research Triangle Park, NC)
  • Global Knowledge (Cary, NC)
  • Hallmark (Kansas City, MO)
  • Hamilton Beach Brands (Richmond, VA)
  • Hanesbrands (Winston-Salem, NC)
  • Houston Astros (Houston, TX)
  • IBM (Armonk, NY)
  • Inmar (Winston-Salem, NC)
  • International AG Insurance Solutions (Des Moines, IA)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (Jacksonville, FL)
  • Laboratory Corporation of America (Greensboro, NC)
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance (Boston. MA)
  • Lowe’s Home Improvement (Mooresville, NC)
  • Lulu Enterprises (Raleigh, NC)
  • M&T Bank (Buffalo, NY)
  • Marriott International (Bethesda, MD)
  • MetLife (New York, NY)
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Monsanto (St. Louis, MO)
  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO)
  • NetJets (Columbus, OH)
  • North Carolina Department of State Treasurer (Raleigh, NC)
  • North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC)
  • Northrop Grumman (McLean, VA)
  • Quaero (Charlotte, NC)
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Premier (Charlotte, NC)
  • Procter & Gamble (Cincinnati, OH)
  • Railinc (Cary, NC)
  • Raytheon Company (Waltham, MA)
  • Recall (Norcross, GA)
  • Rex/UNC Healthcare (Raleigh, NC)
  • Richard Childress Racing (Welcome, NC)
  • RTI International (Research Triangle Park, NC)
  • Safeco Insurance (Seattle, WA)
  • Sealed Air (Duncan, SC)
  • Sensus (Raleigh, NC)
  • Siemens Healthcare (Cary, NC)
  • Tekelec (Morrisville, NC)
  • The Daniel Group (Charlotte, NC)
  • The J. M. Smucker Company (Orrville, OH)
  • Travelocity (Southlake, TX)
  • Trident Marketing (Charlotte, NC)
  • UNC Health Care (Chapel Hill, NC)
  • United Airlines (Chicago, IL)
  • U.S. Postal Service (Washington, DC)
  • Verisk Health (South Jordan, UT)
  • VF Corporation (Greensboro, NC)
  • Volvo Trucks NA (Greensboro, NC)
  • Wachovia Bank (Charlotte, NC)
  • Walgreens (Deerfield, IL)
  • Zencos Consulting (Durham, NC)