The 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.
The Practicum spans eight months and culminates with an executive-level report and presentation to the sponsor. Students work in teams of 5 members each to understand the business problem, and then clean and analyze the data—each stage in the project is managed by the Institute. The teams perform their work under confidentiality agreements and the results are the sole property of the respective sponsors. There is no sponsorship fee.
Sponsored projects now total 269 with 136 lead sponsors spanning virtually every industry segment and include some of the world’s leading organizations and best known brands.
|SELECTED PRACTICUM SPONSORS|
|Advance Auto Parts (Raleigh NC)
AF Group (Lansing MI)
Align Technology (San Jose CA)
Ally (Detroit MI)
Ambit (Boston MA)
AMC Theatres (Leawood KS)
Aquent (Boston MA)
Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto Canada)
Astros (Houston TX)
Asurion (Nashville TN)
AT&T (Dallas TX)
Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist (Winston-Salem NC)
B2W Digital (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Bank of America (Charlotte NC)
bioMérieux (Durham, NC)
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Egan MN)
Brightly (Cary NC)
Cape Fear Collective (Wilmington NC)
Cargill (Minneapolis MN)
Caterpillar (Peoria IL)
Cigna (Bloomfield CT)
Cisco (San Jose CA)
Credit Suisse (Morrisville NC)
Crete Carrier (Lincoln NE)
Daimler Trucks (Portland, OR)
Deere & Company (Moline IL)
Deloitte (Hartford CT)
Disney Parks and Resorts (Orlando FL)
Duke Health (Durham NC)
eBay (New York, NY; San Jose CA)
Elder Research (Charlottesville VA)
Elevate Credit (Fort Worth TX)
Estée Lauder Companies (New York NY)
FCC (Washington DC)
Fifth Third Bank (Cincinnati OH)
General Mills (Minneapolis MN)
General Motors (Detroit MI)
GlaxoSmithKline (Research Triangle Park NC)
GoDaddy (Scottsdale AZ)
Hanesbrands (Winston-Salem NC)
Jacksonville Jaguars (Jacksonville FL)
Live Oak Bank (Wilmington NC)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Lowe’s Companies (Mooresville NC)
|Marriott International (Bethesda MD)
MetLife (Cary NC)
Microsoft (Redmond WA)
NC Joint Underwriters Assoc (Raleigh NC)
NC Department of Public Safety (Raleigh NC)
NC Museum of Art (Raleigh NC)
NC Office of State Budget and Management
NC State Treasurer (Raleigh NC)
NC State University Athletics (Raleigh NC)
OneMain Financial (Wilmington DE)
OneSource (Oceanside, CA)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Primrose Schools (Atlanta GA)
Procter & Gamble (Cincinnati OH)
Putnam Investments (Boston MA)
Raleigh Water (Raleigh NC)
Ravens (Baltimore MD)
RBC Bank (Raleigh NC)
Red Hat (Raleigh NC)
Revenue Management Solutions (Tampa FL)
Richard Childress Racing (Welcome NC)
RTI International (Research Triangle Park NC)
Ryerson Steel (Atlanta GA)
SAS Institute (Cary NC)
Siemens Healthcare (Cary NC)
Speedway Motorsports (Concord NC)
Stride Learning (Herndon VA)
Terminix (Memphis, TN)
The Home Depot (Atlanta GA)
The J. M. Smucker Company (Orrville OH)
Trillium Health Resources (Greenville NC)
UNC Health Care (Chapel Hill NC)
United Airlines (Chicago IL)
United Network for Organ Sharing (Richmond VA)
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (McLean VA)
U.S. Postal Service (Washington DC)
Verizon (New York NY)
VF Corporation (Greensboro NC)
Visionist (Columbia MD)
Volvo Trucks (Greensboro NC)
Walgreens (Deerfield IL)
Wounded Warrior Project (Jacksonville FL)
Zencos (Durham NC)
|Bold lettering denotes current sponsors.|
Practicum Sponsorship – Call for Proposals
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.
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. Students also receive instruction in teamwork, project management and communication skills.
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. Team members assign specific roles for themselves.
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. The main 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 annually. We aim to select a variety of projects each year and typically evaluate over 60 proposals. A viable proposal not selected in the current round can be placed in a queue for future assignment. We continually look for opportunities to work with new sponsors and in 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 (PII), and will only share data in a manner that is consistent with their third-party data transfer governance 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.
Each sponsor is required to:
- provide the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to be signed by student team;
- securely transfer the promised data on the specified timetable;
- assign a liaison, who will be the team’s primary point of contact to resolve 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.
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 travel expenses, if any, to have the student team visit the sponsor location for the kick-off meeting and/or final presentation.
- 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
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.
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.
Or email us with an expression of your interest: MSA Practicum Sponsorship