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More Columbia Business School MBA Students Learn to Code

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Like every other elite business school worth its salt, Columbia Business School (CBS)has seen a huge surge in student interest in programming and analytics courses.

It started three years ago when Costis Maglaras, the chair of the Decision, Risk & Operations division of CBS, oversaw development of a new analytics curriculum with the goal to ensure that students were being trained in quantitative, data-driven decision-making.

Maglaras couldn’t help but notice a major gap: There were few courses in computer programming, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

He took it upon himself to help develop a series of MBA-level programming that included analytics-focused classes to give MBA students the digital tools they needed to become tech-savvy managers. In tandem with Maglaras’ efforts, the student-run Technology Business Group helped develop courses around the programming languages of SQL and Python.

Now more than a dozen elective programming courses have been launched across CBS, helping MBA graduates land management positions at Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft. And the popularity of these courses is only growing.

“Taking those classes gave me a lot of confidence for my interviews,” says Neha Bansal, MBA ’18. She credits the new curriculum for helping her land a job at Google as a product manager due in small part to her Python expertise.

Bansal is far from the only student who’s reaped the benefits. There are now more than 300 MBA students at CBS who have signed up to learn Python—a highly marketable skill. The only problem: The classes have now become almost too popular.

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More than a dozen coding language programs have recently launched for business school students at CBS, thanks in part to the student-run Technology Business Group.

The division has been forced to hire additional faculty and to figure out how to integrate the new analytics programming more intricately into the overall curriculum. Across the board, CBS is seeing more MBA students interested in programming because, simply put, it’s what employers want.

For example, Citigroup recently announced it would train all incoming analysts in Python. Goldman Sachs has asked its traders to learn how to code. According to a recent Financial Times survey, “understanding digital impact on business” is one of the most important skills for an MBA and one of the most difficult skills to recruit.

“The reality is we’re living in a very data-centric world, and whether we like it or not it’s going to be an important factor in any decision-making process down the road,” Hardeep Johar, of the CBS Engineering School, says. “We need people to be savvy about how to use data analytics and artificial intelligence on all the important decisions of today.”

To read the full article and all about what Columbia Business School is doing to help prepare MBA students to embrace data analytics, visit the CBS website.

Kelly Vo
Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and topics related to personal development. She has been working in the MBA space for the past four years in research, interview, and writing roles.