As program director for MQM, I get asked about how the various academic tracks work—what are the differences and similarities and what that means for students. Here’s a breakdown.

Selecting a Track

When completing the application, applicants are asked to indicate which of the four business analytics tracks—Finance, Marketing, Risk, or Strategy—most interests them. There is the option to include a second alternate track, but only if it is a track they are fully committed to pursuing, and the option to indicate interest in all four tracks if they are open to enrolling in any of them. The applicant will be placed into a particular track if admitted, and we do not allow admitted students to change tracks.

Therefore, track selection is an important part of the admissions process. Some students prefer a track that aligns with their undergraduate major or recent work experience. Others are looking to explore a new area completely and prefer a track that will provide them exposure to an area they want to learn more about.

Our Admissions team encourages applicants to ask themselves what questions they would like to work through during the program and what interests they have. For example, students in the Marketing track will explore how drive customers to a brand. Students in the Finance track should be seeking an innovative and data-driven approach to their work. The Strategy track is the broadest of the four and will focus on big data techniques. Students in the Risk track will use data to identify and improve inefficiencies and identify strategic behavior in company processes. 

Format and Course Load

Although tracks allow students to specialize in one area, the majority of classes in the program are core classes that remain the same for all students regardless of track. During the initial Summer Term, everyone goes through orientation together and takes the same set of core classes. Beginning in Fall Term 1, students take at least one track class for each of the remaining four terms. Typically, there is one track class per term along with two core classes.

Students from one track may choose, contingent on classroom space and scheduling, to take another track’s class as well. This is rare and is only advised if a student has a significant interest in the subject matter. Some track classes have pre-requisites. A common example is that Intermediate Finance requires students to take Introduction to Finance first. This may require a student to plan ahead if they are interested in specific classes. By the end of the program, students will have taken four or five track classes.

Tracks Don’t Silo Students

Tracks don’t mean you’re limited in who you interact with. The vast majority of MQM social events are for all students, regardless of track. When it comes to study teams, at various times they are made up of students from all tracks as well as students within one track. Through this model, students are given the opportunity to work with a variety of classmates during their 10 months in the program. Finally, tracks do not determine job outcomes or restrict a student to pursuing a career in a particular sector or field. However, since they allow students to delve a little deeper into a focus area, those learning experiences can provide an advantage during the career search and job application process. Our career reports contain more information about the types of careers graduates of each track have pursued. For stories on what students have learned in their tracks and how they’ve leveraged that knowledge, check out these blogs: Finance, Marketing, Risk and Strategy.