Infusing Analytics with Excel Certification

The world of successful business practice has shifted to include analytics in all facets of operations. To remain a leader in this space, the Maine Business School and Graduate School of Business faculty work to infuse relevant experiences with analytics throughout the curriculum. The Excel Certification is one way to accomplish this initiative.

In 2020, Corey Watson, senior finance and administration manager at the Maine Business School, worked with UMaine and the University of Maine System to complete the process for the MBS to become the first Certiport Certification Center in the state of Maine. This designation allowed the MBS to offer certification exams to its students. 

Tanya Beaulieu, assistant professor of management information systems, developed a new one-credit course, BIS 105. Our faculty members agreed to require it of all undergraduate business students. 

The course uses GMetrix software to guide students in learning five key aspects of Excel operations: worksheets, managing data cells, managing tables, formulas, and charts. Beaulieu and Jennifer Larlee, MBS administrative specialist, leaned in to teach several course sections. About 25% of current MBS undergraduates are Excel certified at the Associates level.

“With a goal of infusing analytics throughout the curriculum, our work with Excel has paved the way for other enriched learning experiences for our BSBA and MBA students,” says Faye Gilbert, executive dean of the Maine Business School. “We are grateful to have a faculty and staff who create opportunities for students as well as for donors who support these strategic initiatives in our programs.”

After the first year of offering the Excel Certification course, Eric Winterhalter, a member of the MBS Advisory Board, provided financial support. These funds helped expand the licenses available to provide opportunities for advanced certifications and the inclusion of MBA students into the program. Students who want to go beyond the basics can enroll in the Excel Expert course, BIS 305.

“Students enjoy learning Excel and value the certification,” Beaulieu says. On average, 76% of MBS students who take the certification exam at the Associates level pass and become Microsoft Excel Certified.

“I was impressed with how much I learned through the videos and modules in BIS 105,” says Kyle Lee, an MBS accounting student. “In accounting, having skills in Excel is critical for success. Formulas and other useful Excel functions make quick work of computations as well as changes in data. My Excel Associate certification is a verifiable document that proves that I am proficient.”