COLLEGE PARK, Md., Dec. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Companies looking for business insights based on data will have a chance to partner with the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business in a new Master of Science in Business Analytics program. "They can inform us what skills they are looking for in graduates, and we can use their input in shaping the curriculum to fit the needs of the contemporary business landscape," said Smith School professor Tunay Tunca, academic director of the 16-month, STEM-certified program that will offer afternoon and evening courses in College Park starting in fall 2017. Applications are currently being accepted. Priority deadlines for merit award consideration are Jan. 10 for international applicants and Feb. 15 for domestic applicants. Industry input will come from members of the Smith School Business Analytics Consortium, which also collaborates with the school's existing Master of Science in Marketing Analytics program and the undergraduate Business Analytics minor. Inaugural consortium members include Deloitte, Maga Design Group, Mattel, KPMG and Unilever. "We have a long track record of recruiting talented practitioners from the Smith School that both provide the skills we need and fit within our culture," Dave Pierce, director of Deloitte Consulting, announced in a Deloitte news release. "Based on that history, we are proud to grow our relationship with the university through the Business Analytics Consortium." Tunca said consortium members will provide consulting projects for students to tackle during their capstone course in the new graduate program. "Companies are really interested in that," he said. Students will prepare for the capstone by focusing on real-world challenges in every course. Tunca said PhD students in math, statistics and computer science know how to work with numbers, but employers want graduates who can frame solutions in business terms and communicate opportunities to nontechnical managers.