New business majors at WMU fill need for business professionals

Contact: Cindy Wagner

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Beginning this fall, Western Michigan University will offer new majors in business analytics and business law, addressing growing student interest and increasing industry demand for business professionals in those areas.

The business analytics major is offered through the Department of Business Information Systems, while the business law major is offered through the Department of Finance and Commercial Law.

Business analytics major meets demands

The new business analytics major addresses industry needs related to the escalating opportunities for businesses to collect data. Students who major in business analytics will be prepared to manage and analyze data and adapt to changing technology advances in this area.

"Data-savvy functional specialists are in high demand in business, and analytics skills provide a foundation of success in many business disciplines," says Dr. Kuanchin Chen, professor of business information systems, citing Bureau of Labor Statistics projections that the discipline will grow 19 percent faster than other disciplines in coming years.

"In addition to the promising employment outlook, university accrediting organizations, graduate admission programs and changes in accounting standards also signal the need for more advanced courses in analytics for undergraduate business students," says Dr. Tom Rienzo, master faculty specialist in business information systems.

The new program advances the study of business analytics at WMU, which previously consisted of a minor program. The addition of five required courses rounds out the new major; new courses include programming for data analytics, database for business analytics, big data analytics and business analytics I and II.

New business law offerings

The business law program provides two options for students--an undergraduate business major or an accelerated path to complete law school at WMU's Cooley Law School. The interdisciplinary offerings include courses in foundational and discipline-specific business topics and perspective on legal studies topics from the College of Arts and Sciences first-year law school courses from the law school.

Students who pursue the bachelor's degree will develop important law-related business skills while also studying broad business concepts, addressing a growing need reported by the American Bar Association for programs that train people other than lawyers to provide limited legal services. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in business law provide compliance work and expertise in specific areas such as human resources.

"Students who complete the new undergraduate degree will be uniquely prepared to address issues and trends at the intersection of business and law," says Dr. Norman Hawker, professor of finance and commercial law.

Undergraduate students who opt for an accelerated law degree will be able to attend WMU Cooley Law School and complete their degree in six years. The accelerated law program reduces the time required to earn a juris doctor degree at WMU by about one year, making the degree more affordable.

"There are important interdisciplinary aspects to this new major that will provide business students the opportunity for study in the arts and sciences as well as law," says Dr. Mark Hurwitz, professor of political science.

"Our new business law major saves students time and money while earning a J.D.," says Dr. Devrim Yaman, chair of the department of finance and commercial law. "Students completing the major can pursue careers that require some legal knowledge, such as human resource professionals, compliance auditors and consultants, legal assistants, paralegals, military intelligence officers, state police officers and others."

For more information on either program, contact the Haworth College of Business at (269) 387-5050.