A Curriculum For Decision Makers

The Master of Science in Decision Analysis program prepares graduate students to analyze complex problems and make consequential decisions—those affecting teams, organizations, entire industries, and society at large.

The Master of Science in Decision Analysis program prepares graduate students to analyze complex problems and make consequential decisions—those affecting teams, organizations, entire industries, and society at large. Your academics will focus on quantitative and qualitative research, with findings used to evaluate situations, develop viable options, and structure rational conclusions. The program entails 16 months of coursework, followed by five months of independent study on a Master’s thesis.

Course content focuses on addressing challenges in a variety of disciplines, from business to public policy to the computational and natural sciences. By applying a core set of research, analysis, and decision-making techniques to a range of issues, you hone your skills in multiple contexts, enabling you to transfer those skills to new domains.

This cross-contextual application is central to your development of the Habits of Mind and Foundational Concepts (HCs) that contribute to success in any sector.

Your first four semesters focus on learning and practicing these HCs in five intensive courses. The courses are designed to help you utilize various research and analysis methods, understand and navigate complex systems, and make data-informed decisions. Your final semester is devoted to a five-month thesis project on a relevant topic of your choosing.

Under the guidance of your thesis advisor, you will conduct primary and secondary research, analyze the findings, then use the resulting data to devise a range of viable options and inform a substantial decision. To complete the program you will defend your thesis in front of two members of the Graduate School faculty, including your thesis advisor.

Habits of Mind and Foundational Concepts

HC Pie Still

Curriculum Overview

Curriculum Overview

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Practical Knowledge Courses

The three Practical Knowledge courses are structured to teach you to apply sixty-five HCs across multiple disciplines. Throughout the curriculum, class material focuses on analyses that support making complex decisions with broad impact. Class activities go into depth on a wide variety of cases and problem domains, helping you develop your creative thinking, critical thinking, and effective interaction skills. (24 units)

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Analytical Focus Courses

The Analytical Focus courses help you develop functional skills in data analysis and research design. One course addresses computational and information-based decision-making, using statistical inference, while the other covers independent research methods, involving quantitative, qualitative, and mixed study design, as well as advanced data analysis. (8 units)

Advanced Empirical Analyses

Understand how to use the scientific method to analyze situations and make decisions by framing problems, formulating and testing creative hypotheses, and engaging in informed conjecture. The subject matter used to illustrate this material will typically be drawn from the natural sciences.

Advanced Formal Analyses

Learn how to represent situations mathematically and logically, using concepts in mathematics, probability and statistics, computer science, and logic. The subject matter used to illustrate this material will typically be drawn from a wide range of pivotal real-world problems.

Advanced Complex Systems

Learn how to analyze complex systems, such as economic and social systems. This course dives into why human social systems are so complex, and covers how analysis is vital to effective leadership, debate, and negotiation. The subject matter used to illustrate this material will typically be drawn from the social sciences.

Knowledge: Information-based Decisions

Learn how to extract meaning from data using modern approaches. Discover how to make big strategic decisions with mathematics, statistics, and computer simulation. Technical aspects of the course focus on computational approaches and real-world challenges, drawing cases from the life sciences, public policy and politics, education, and business.

Research Methods

Practice how to design new research studies to collect the qualitative and quantitative data needed to support your decisions. Extend your use of the R language to develop effective data visualizations, descriptive statistics, and regression models

“The MDA classes are really special because of the interesting and diverse group of students that attend them—not only are they from around the world but also experienced professionals from a variety of fields. Minerva’s active-learning method encourages students to share their own experience, which gives texture and substance to the discussion.”

Tomer Perry
Assistant Professor of Social Sciences

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Master’s Thesis

To culminate the MDA program, your Master’s thesis will center on an issue of your choice and include a review of relevant literature, original research, and advanced analysis of the issue. Your work will demonstrate mastery of skills from the coursework through identification, analyzing, and presenting key decisions that must be made to address your topic. You will begin applying class lessons to your topic throughout your coursework, with the last five months of the program dedicated to conducting research and completing your thesis under the tutelage of your thesis advisor. (4 units)

masters program breakdown

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Merit-based Admissions

Minerva’s unique admissions process eliminates unfair biases and, instead, focuses on who you are, how you think, and what you have achieved.

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Advanced Master’s Curriculum

As an MDA student, you will engage with your cohort of diverse professionals in a dynamic virtual classroom environment.

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Affordable Education

The Master of Science in Decision Analysis is both affordable and can be financed with optional student loans.