UM Students to Graduate with Big Data Analytics Certificate in May

March 23, 2015

MISSOULA – Electronic data is created everywhere, from credit card transactions to satellite sensors. As its volume and velocity continue to increase, businesses and scientists have recognized the need for new techniques to analyze this “big data.” Several departments at the University of Montana responded to this trend by building an interdisciplinary curriculum to educate UM students on cutting-edge approaches, starting with a first-of-its-kind course in real-time data analytics offered fall of 2012.

This May, seven UM students will be the first to graduate with a certificate in data analytics. Two of the students major in math, one in computer science and four in management information systems. 

“The goal of the certificate program is for students to leave UM ready to tackle the challenges presented by big data,” said Lee Tangedahl, chair of UM’s Management Information Systems program. “There will be an increasing demand in the job market for talented people with these skills, and UM is on the leading edge for preparing students for these careers.”  

To earn the certificate, students must complete six required credits and six elective credits. The required courses include an introductory data analytics course and a capstone big data projects course. The elective courses include a wide variety of options, from pattern recognition to marketing analytics. 

Students use currently available tools to capture, analyze and present big data. They explore a variety of applications where big data tools can be applied, and they complete a big data project.

A 2014 CNBC Special Report said “employees with big-data skillsets are in demand” and estimated that by 2018 there will be 4 million big-data-related positions in the U.S.  These jobs would pay median salaries of $80,000 to those who have less than three years of experience and $150,000 to big data analysts with nine or more years of experience.

In addition, U.S. enterprises will need 1.5 million more managers and business analysts who can ask the right questions and consume the results of big data analysis.

For more information on the certificate program visit, call Tangedahl at 406-243-2249 or email

Contact: Lee Tangedahl, professor and chair, Management Information Systems, UM School of Business Administration, 406-243-2249,