A Curriculum for Lifelong, Adaptable Skills

The MDA curriculum comprises three scaffolded academic units completed in the following order:

  • Six practical knowledge courses designed to develop creative thinking, critical thinking, and effective interaction skills.
  • Two analytical courses to enhance your functional skills in data analysis and research design.
  • A master’s thesis, on a topic of your choice, demonstrating mastery of the program’s practical and analytical skills. Other than a one-semester thesis workshop, the master’s thesis does not entail scheduled class time, but instead is completed independently in conjunction with your individual thesis advisor.

While most Minerva MDA students complete the degree on a part time basis over 21 months, longer options are available. The visualizations below show the progression to degree for each completion option. No matter which track you are on, you will complete both required and elective courses, as well as a master’s thesis.

Key Program Features

  • Synchronous online
  • Part-time
  • Small interactive classes
  • Complete in 21 months to 4 years, depending on your needs
  • Attend from anywhere in the world
  • Optional week in person
  • No GMAT or GRE required

Contact us at masters@minerva.edu.

21-month MDA

3-year MDA

4-year MDA

Required Courses

Formal Methods for Analysis and Decision Making

Learn how to represent situations systematically 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.

Decision Making in Complex Social Systems

Use tools and concepts from complexity theory to understand people and groups as complex systems. With this approach, we target the core competency of “effective interaction” with others, including analysis of case studies from a variety of global contexts that consider topics from leadership and negotiation to understanding yourself and your own goals.

Critical Analysis of Consequential Decisions

Synthesize and extend learnings from the core courses by engaging with examples of consequential decision making. Flexibly apply HCs to complex and challenging case studies. Analyze the context of the case, formulate a strategy, consider solutions, and make or judge a decision while adapting as necessary to unexpected challenges.

Frameworks for Evidence-Based Decision Making

Learn to apply advanced problem solving skills and decision making frameworks to complex problems. Use data and evidence to define and characterize complex problems and generate viable solutions while analyzing and mitigating the effect of cognitive biases on the process of decision making.

Applications of Scientific Inquiry

Use the scientific method in interdisciplinary contexts to design research that tests innovative hypotheses and informs decision making. This class focuses on topics in the social and natural sciences that transcend disciplinary boundaries.

Statistical Modeling for 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.

Electives (Select One)

Research Methods Across Contexts

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. Apply your data analysis skills across contexts and hone your ability to analyze and present findings from both qualitative and quantitative data.

Research Methods in Education

Practice designing impactful studies that incorporate traditional educational research methods, transferable scientific methods, and rigorous analysis. Understand the relationship between the results of multiple types of testing, program evaluation, and classroom intervention methods and their real-world implications for educational practice and policy. Apply your data analysis skills to the education context and hone your ability to analyze and present findings from both qualitative and quantitative data.

Minerva’s Master in Decision Analysis (MDA) program is structured in a way that activates your brain to the maximum — all traditional learning techniques such as listening and note-taking, memorizing, or briefly skimming prep materials before class do not work for Minerva seminars which are built as interactive discussions with professors only facilitating, not lecturing.

Alina Ryabova
MDA Class of 2022

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Under the guidance of a Minerva University advisor and an external expert, you will design and carry out an original thesis project that offers novel insights for solving a problem of consequence or for informing a substantial decision. While many students begin working on their thesis early in the program and often address an issue identified in their personal or professional lives, the thesis is completed during the last months of the degree, primarily as an independent study project. Components of a successful thesis include the following:

  • Research and review of relevant literature
  • Original argument
  • Advanced analysis of the issue
  • Demonstrated mastery of coursework skills, including the identification, analysis, and presentation of key decisions to be made
  • Completed thesis of approximately 35 pages, on average
  • Oral defense before a panel of Minerva University Graduate School faculty

Optional In-Person Experiences

For an additional fee, students can attend a one-week intensive immersion program each year to get to know their classmates while exploring a global location such as London, San Francisco, or Seoul. Participating MDA students, along with Minerva’s Certificate in Decision Analysis students, will visit with local leaders in important business sectors and government organizations, tour local cultural landmarks, and discuss key challenges across multiple fields. Students will also live together and have unstructured time available to build their personal and professional networks. Costs and fees associated with attending an immersion option include housing, food, airfare, programming, and local transportation to events, totaling approximately $3,000 USD.

Applications for Fall 2023 are closed. If you would like to be notified about Fall 2024 applications, you can begin the process below.

For any questions, please contact us at masters@minerva.edu