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Applied Analytics Practicum

Every MSA student is required to take the Applied Analytics Practicum course (CSE/ISYE/MGT 6748) before graduating.  This six-credit course gives all of our students an opportunity to do an important applied analytics/data-science project with a company or organization that really cares about the results. 

Most of our students use an analytics/data-science internship as their project for the course.  US citizens and Permanent Residents may also use a full-time permanent analytics/data-science job for the course.   Also, companies bring projects to us for our students to work on in teams each semester.  One way or another, before graduating every MSA student gets experience working with a company/organization applying the analytics skills they’ve gained through the MSA curriculum to a real-world data science problem.

The Applied Analytics Practicum course also includes lessons on issues of professional analytics practice from experts in things like ethics, leadership, change management, etc., and of course there are faculty, Tas and alumni mentors available to answer students' questions through the course of their projects

 

 

Prerequisites

  • CSE 6242 Data and Visual Analytics
  • MGT 6203 Data Analytics in Business
  • A total of at least 7 (preferably 10) courses toward the MS Analytics degree
  • A company or organization’s advanced analytics or data science project, approved by the MS Analytics program

Course Goals

The course is designed to give students experience in how to:

  • properly define and scope an advanced analytics or data science project to fit the needs of an organization
  • apply appropriate analytics ideas, methodologies, and tools
  • create value, insight, and knowledge using data science skills and principles
  • manage a project
  • present results professionally in writing and orally

 

Project Types

There are three types of projects that students may do in this course:

  • Internship: Individual students working at a company or other organization for the semester on a data science project that has been approved for use in this course.  Students who wish to pursue this option will receive career search support from MSA Career Services but are responsible for finding their own internship.  Internships are typically paid at industry standards for graduate data science talent.  For international students, this employment must meet visa status requirements; international students are advised to contact Georgia Tech’s Office of International Education.
  • On-campus Practicum Project: Small teams of ~3-4 students working with a company or other organization on a data science project they have submitted to Georgia Tech.  Teams will work remote from the company site (e.g., at Georgia Tech).  On-campus practicum projects will be provided by MSA Career Services each semester and are always available to students upon request. Students will get to choose among submitted projects, space permitting (with the constraint that, whenever possible, only one team may work on each project).  Students will not be paid for remote practicum projects.  Teams will meet regularly with the sponsoring company and will also be paired with an MSA alumni mentor.
  • Full-time Role (NOTE: This option is only available to US Citizens and Permanent Residents): Individual students working full-time in a permanent position at a company or other organization for the semester on a data science project that has been approved for use in this course.  Students who wish to pursue this option will receive career search support from MSA Career Services but are responsible for finding their own full-time position. 

Project Requirements

There are three main requirements of an applied analytics practicum project:

  • Methodology:  The project must require the use of advanced analytics/data science skills and knowledge learned in the MS Analytics curriculum, or built upon that knowledge.  The purpose is for students to get significant project experience using what they have learned.
  • Value:  The project’s goal should be to create significant value, insights, and/or knowledge for the company or organization.
  • Magnitude:  The project should be significant enough to require the full semester allotted.

Course Deliverables

It is expected that the student(s) and employer will agree on a communication schedule, and that students are responsible for making sure communication is timely and smooth.  A supervisor on the company/organization side will be asked to submit an evaluation form at the end of the semester; this evaluation can be a significant contributor to the student’s grade.

Additionally, students must submit the following reports during the semester:

  • Certification Form:   Students must complete a certification form at the beginning of the semester confirming participation in the practicum and summarizing the work they’ll be doing.
  • Midterm Report: A midterm progress report must be submitted in the form of a slide deck.  The midterm progress report should explain the purpose of the project, what the student has completed thus far, and what they plan to accomplish by the end of the semester.
  • Final Written Report: The final report should explain the purpose of the project, the student’s approach to solving the problem, and what the results, insights or recommendations are. 
  • Final Presentation:  Students must give a final presentation to company representatives.  This is the student’s opportunity to present their approach and findings and answer any questions the company may have about their work.

Common Questions

General Practicum Questions

Can a GRA count as the practicum?

Typically, no. In rare situations, it’s possible a GRA could count as the practicum if you’re planning to pursue a PhD or the GRA work is tied directly to a company and has business impact.

Can students do the practicum in any semester?

Yes, students can do the practicum in summer, fall or spring, but they must have completed at least 7 (but preferably 10) MSA courses prior to being eligible for the practicum. Specific prerequisites courses include CSE 6242 and MGT 6203.

How do I register for the practicum?

Once an internship or FT job has been approved by your career advisor or you have let your advisor know you’ll be doing the on-campus practicum, you should register for the MSA Practicum Course (MGT/CSE/ISYE 6478) during either Phase I or II registration. We recommend registering for the section aligned with your MSA Track, but if that section is full, it is acceptable to register for another section.

How do students get approval to count their internship or full-time job as their practicum?

Students should speak with their career advisor to gain approval to count their internship or full-time job as their practicum.

If I would like to use my full-time job as my practicum, do I need to start my job by a specific date?

Yes, you will need to work at least 8 weeks prior to the last day of summer semester or 14 weeks prior to the last day of fall semester to count your job as the practicum for that specific semester. If your job starts too late to fulfill this requirement, you can wait until the following semester to register for the practicum. (I.E. If your full-time job starts in late June, you should wait until fall semester to register for the practicum.

Is there tuition associated with the MSA Practicum?

Yes, there are 6 academic credits of tuition associated with the MSA practicum regardless of which practicum option students choose.

What are the options to satisfy the MSA Practicum requirement?

All students can use an internship or do an analytics project provided by MSA Career Services, which we call the ‘on-campus practicum’, as their MSA practicum. Students who are US citizens or Permanent Residents can also use a full-time position as their practicum.

What are the practicum deliverables?

All students must submit the MSA practicum certification at the beginning of the practicum to verify that the project will satisfy course requirements. Additionally, they will be asked to submit a mid-term PPT deck and final report as well as present their finding to the organization at the end of the term. The practicum syllabus provides additional details.

What types of internships/jobs can count as the practicum?

In order for an internship or full-time job to count as the MSA practicum, the work must allow the student to apply the data science and analytics skills gained through their MSA coursework to a real-world business problem.

On-campus Practicum Questions

Do I need to be in Atlanta for the on-campus practicum?

We encourage students to be in Atlanta for the on-campus practicum. We have found that this provides for a more robust practicum experience because teams can meet in-person throughout the semester. However, it is permitted for students to be remote for the on-campus practicum as long if they meet the following requirements: (A) they are located somewhere in the US and (B) they agree to be present for in-person meetings with the sponsor (i.e. kick-off meeting, final presentations, plant/factory tour, etc.) It is not permitted for students to live abroad during the on-campus practicum.

How are projects assigned?

Students will have the chance to review each project proposal as well as meet the project sponsors during the practicum kick-off meeting, which is held during the first week of the semester. Students will then have the opportunity to rank their project preferences, which we use to form teams. We do our best to give students one of their preferred projects, if possible.

How do I request an on-campus practicum project?

On-campus practicum projects are provided by MSA Career Services and are available in fall, spring and summer semesters.   Students should let their career advisor know if they’re interested in doing an on-campus practicum project.

How is the on-campus practicum structured?

Teams of 3-4 MSAs work on a real-world data science problem provided by the corporate partner for 10 weeks over summer semester or 15 weeks over fall or spring semester. Teams do not work at the company site but may be required to attend occasional on-site meetings over the course of the project including the project kick-off, site visits and final presentation.

How much time am I expected to spend on the on-campus practicum?

Each student is expected to spend approximately 20 hours/week working on the project. Your day-to-day schedule may differ from your teammates, but you should expect to have a weekly conference call with the corporate sponsor as well as weekly team meetings.

What types of companies sponsor on-campus practicum projects?

We typically have a wide range of organizations who sponsor our on-campus practicum projects including Fortune 500 companies, mid-sized companies, start-ups and nonprofits. Past sponsors have included Delta, NCR, NASA, Habitat for Humanity, The Home Depot, Accenture, The Baltimore Orioles, Credigy, Wells Fargo, US Olympics Committee, and Emory Healthcare.

What types of practicum projects have been offered in the past?

Here are some examples of past practicum projects:

  • Analyze and predict timeline risk associated with clinical studies for a pharmaceutical company
  • Perform social media sentiment analysis for a telecommunication company
  • Analyze and predict likelihood of injury for players based on their training schedule, for a college sports team
  • Predict paper breaks in paper manufacturing process in advance and identify potential causes
  • Develop a predictive model and risk calculator to identify patients as high risk for being readmitted to the hospital
  • Apply neural network to time-series data from consumer payment history to predict future payment delinquency

Practicum Questions Specific to International Students

Can I graduate in summer if I do an internship as my practicum?

Yes! Students who complete their 10 MSA courses in fall and spring can then do a summer internship as their MSA practicum in order to graduate in August.

Do I have to count a summer internship as my practicum?

Students who have completed all 10 MSAs courses during their first fall and spring semester who accept a summer internship must count it as their MSA practicum and then graduate in August. Students who have not completed all 10 MSA courses, can choose to either count a summer internship as their practicum or wait until fall to do their practicum.

If I wait until my second fall semester to do the practicum, what are my practicum options?

If you wait until your second fall to do the practicum, you can do a part-time (20 hr/wk) fall internship or an on-campus practicum project as your MSA Practicum. Please do keep in mind that part-time fall internships aren't very common. Be sure to talk with your career advisor if you’re interested in seeking a part-time fall internship.

What do I need to keep in mind if I want to graduate in December?

International students who want to extend their graduation until December must hold at least 1 required MSA course for their second fall semester. Note: They can choose to do their practicum in either summer or their second fall semester.

What is the process to count an internship as your practicum?

You will need to register for both the 6-academic credit MSA practicum course (MGT/ISYE/CSE 6748) AND register your internship with the Career Center through CareerBuzz. When you register your internship with the Career Center, you will automatically be enrolled in a 12-audit credit INTN course, and the Career Center will submit your information to OIE to start the process for CPT approval.