35 years ago, Madonna declared that we are living in a material world. Times change. Today's world is a world of zeros and ones: a digital world, of big data. A world requiring those skilled and knowledgeable in business analytics to apply and manage modern data science to solve critical business challenges.
In its Big Data and Analytics Hub Report, IBM estimates that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day—and only 23 percent of organizations have a strategic plan in place to manage it. The depth and breadth of analytics research done by McKinsey is just one example of the critical role that business analytics play in the work world.
A master's degree in business analytics is your ticket into this world of data mining and analysis. The jobs are out there. In the World Economic Forum's most recent Future of Jobs Report, seven of the top ten emerging jobs are high-tech related, with data analysts and scientists in the top position.
In this article, we'll cover:
- Possible fields and career paths for people with a master's in business analytics
- What you will learn in a business analytics program
- How best to prepare for graduate school
- Prerequisites for earning a master's in business analytics
- The top master's programs for business analytics
- The top online master's programs for business analytics
Possible fields and career paths for people with a master's in business analytics
As a data scientist, you can follow a number of career paths, including:
According to Indeed, the average annual income for business intelligence analysts is $89,612. Entry-level data analysts can expect to earn $92,372, based on a 40-hour work week.
What will you learn in a business analytics program?
To be successful in the field of data science, you need to have strong technical skills (e.g., data analysis and programming) and soft skills (such as leadership and communication).
Master's programs strengthen students' knowledge and skills in collecting, organizing, and interpreting data while also enabling students to grow their business and leadership acumen. Your studies will lean heavily into the quantitative skills necessary to analyze data.
Classes to strengthen your data science skills will likely include:
- Applied probability and statistics
- Predictive analytics
- Machine learning
At the same time, you will work in collaborative teams and take soft-skill classes such as:
- Business communications
- Consumer behavior
- Strategic marketing management
You will learn a variety of analytical models and decision-support tools to use in a wide variety of areas, including:
- Product and technology innovations
- Financial services
- Human resource management
If you are deciding whether to earn an MBA or Master of Science in a business analytics program, it's important for you to consider whether you want more of a general overview of the business world or whether your dream job includes a lot of math and data. The MS in business analytics is a great fit for people who want quantitative analysis to be a large component of their work life.
How can you best prepare for graduate school?
For any master's in business analytics program you choose, you want to be sure that you have strong knowledge and skills in the quantitative arena, particularly with computer programming languages, mathematics, and statistics.
You will need a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.
Prerequisites for earning a master's in business analytics
The admission criteria for earning a master's in business analytics vary depending on the program you choose. Most schools do not have any required courses you need to take in order to be admitted to the program, but students are expected to have the math and programming skills needed to be successful in the required coursework. Similarly, while applicants from a variety of backgrounds are considered, those with a bachelor's degree in a quantitative discipline such as sciences, mathematics, engineering, statistics or computer science are typically given preferred consideration.
You must be proficient in English. Most programs require a GRE or GMAT score earned within the past five years, although some schools do not require either test (New York University is one example).
Gaining some work experience may be useful but isn't generally a prerequisite.
What are some of the top schools for earning a master's in business analytics?
Whether you plan to earn your master's in business analytics degree on campus or online, you have many options to choose from. Here are some of the top schools where you can earn a master's in business analytics as the terminal degree. These lists don't include master's degrees awarded as part of a Ph.D. program.
We've included some of the important information—degree type, tuition, graduation requirements, core courses, electives, features, and specializations (when available)—that you will want to consider when choosing the business analytics program that best meets your needs.
On-campus master's in business analytics programs
- Degree: Master of Quantitative Management: Business Analytics (MQM)
- Tuition for 2019-20: $68,200
- Program length: 10 months
- Graduation requirements: Up to 19 courses and a capstone project.
- Core courses: Business Fundamentals; Business Communication; Critical Thinking, Communication, and Collaboration; Navigating Organizations; Applied Probability and Statistics; Data Infrastructure, Data Science for Business; Decision Analytics and Modeling; Data Visualization; Legal and Ethical Issues of Data Analytics.
- Core courses in tracks: Finance Track: Introductory Finance; Intermediate Finance; Derivatives; Fixed Income Securities; Financial Risk Management. Marketing Track: Digital Marketing; Marketing Intelligence; Customer Relationship Management; Pricing. Strategy Track: Empirical Economic Analysis; Operations Analytics; Strategic Management; People Analytics. Forensics Track: Financial Reporting Foundations; Financial Statement Fraud; Managing Operational and Informational Risks; Fraud Analytics
- Electives: There are 18 electives available. Students may take elective courses related to tracks other than the one they have chosen.
- Features: Students all share the same core foundation in data analysis and then specialize in one of four tracks: finance, marketing, forensics, or strategy. Team-based learning provides constant opportunities for collaboration. The program culminates in a six-week capstone project during which teams of students partner with a faculty advisor and an organization to solve a specific program utilizing analytics technique.
- Degree: MS in Business Analytics and Risk Management
- Tuition for 2019-20: $71,600
- Program length: 12 months
- Graduation requirements: 36 credits
- Core courses: Accounting and Financial Reporting; Business Analytics; Business Communication; Business Leadership and Human Values; Corporate Finance; Information Systems; Marketing Management; Operations Management; Statistical Analysis; Advanced Business Analytics; Data Analytics; Simulation and Strategic Options
- Electives: Students choose two quantitative electives from: Big Data Machine Learning; Continuous Time Finance; Customer Analytics; Data Science and Business Intelligence; Data Visualization; Pricing and Insuring Risk; and Retail Analytics. Students also choose four general elective courses: Business Law; Contracting: Incentive Design and Analytics; Corporate Governance; Crisis Management; Cybersecurity; Enterprise Risk Management Frameworks; Financial Crises and Contagion; Global Supply Chain Management; Managing Complex Projects; and Managing Financial Risk
- Features: Coursework integrates the concepts of analytical tools and many areas of risk management.
- Degree: Master of Business Analytics (MBAn)
- Tuition and fees for 2019-20: $87,740 (Doesn't include personal and living expenses.) This cost includes an analytics capstone project in summer 2020. After a $22,000 offset by the analytics capstone sponsor, the student's tuition is $65,740.
- Program length: 12 months
- Graduation requirements: 111 to 141 units of classwork including the analytics capstone project, which offers a practical application of business analytics problems within a real company.
- Core courses: Machine Learning; Optimization Methods; Analytics Edge; Analytics Software Tools (in R, Python, SQL, and Julia); Communicating with Data Applied Probability and Stochastic Models; Analytics Lab: Action Learning Seminar; From Analytics to Action; Analytics Capstone
- Electives: Students must take a minimum of 27 units and a maximum of 48 units of approved electives. More than 75 elective choices include: Seminar in Corporate Entrepreneurship; Marketing Innovation; Introduction to System Dynamics; Collaborative Data Science in Medicine; Analytics of Finance; and Nonlinear Optimization
- Features: Real-world seven-month analytics capstone project including a guaranteed ten-week summer work experience with a sponsor company; one-week immersion West Coast Data Science Trek, during which students spend a week in Seattle and San Francisco visiting the data science teams at leading technology companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Uber, and LinkedIn; research opportunities with 50+ MIT Operations Research Center affiliated faculty and senior staff.
- Degree: Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA)
- Tuition: The total tuition and fees costs for the 2019-2020 academic year is $50,510.
- Graduation requirements: 33 credit-hours. The full-time program is two semesters (four seven-week modules), which students start in August and complete in May the following year. The part-time program is four semesters (seven seven-week modules) which students start in August and complete in December the following year.
- Core courses: There are two bootcamps held in August that are required for all students: Introduction to Analysis and Excel / VBA Bootcamp. Business Intelligence; Time Series Analysis; Advanced Decision Models; Applied Econometrics; Applied Probability Models; Business Analytics Consulting; Machine Learning in Predictive Analytics; Data Visualization and Communication; Database Design for Business Applications; Decision Models; Managerial Statistics; Managing Your Career; Metrics and Analytics for Business Decisions; Predictive Modeling with Web and Social Media Data; Programming for Analytics; Business Analytics Capstone Internship.
- Electives: Students take four electives during the program. If students perform well in the first semester, it is also possible to take two additional electives (a total of 6) during the program. Possible electives include: Advanced Product Brand Management; Big Data Platforms; Business Intelligence; Consumer Behavior; Customer Insights and Market Intelligence; Data-Driven Marketing; Retailing Analytics
- Features: Students have the option of two program specializations: Business Process Analytics—DB Concepts & Applications or Customer Analytics—Marketing Research & Customer Centric Analytics. Full-time MSBA students gain hands-on experience with companies in the analytics area during the program. In the spring semester, students can either work on an internship with a company from January until May a or enroll in a semester-long capstone project. In the capstone project, a group of students in the Process Analytics specialization designs, builds, and tests an analytics system for a real company.
- Degree: Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) from the UCLA Anderson School of Management
- Tuition and fees for 2019-20: $66,709 (does not include living expenses, transportation costs, parking, books, medical insurance, campus fees or a laptop.)
- Program length: 15 months. For fall 2020, classes begin October 1, 2020 and end December 10, 2021
- Graduation requirements: 48 units of classwork including the Capstone: Applied Analytics Project
- Core courses: Math and Stats for Analytics (Introduction to Machine Learning); R Programming Essentials; SQL and Basic Data Management; Optimization; Business Fundamentals for Analytics; Data Management; Prescriptive Models; Customer Analytics; Competitive Analytics; Industry Seminars; Operations Analytics
- Electives include: Advanced Workshop on Machine Learning; Healthcare Analytics; Entertainment Analytics; Internet Customer Analytics; Fraud Analytics; Data Visualization; Forecasting and Time Series
- Features: Eight to ten-week summer internship supervised by an Anderson faculty member that leads to student's required project; project continues in in the fall. Seven-month capstone project, during which a team of four students partners with a corporate client offering students direct interaction with clients and exposure to potential employers.
Online master's in business analytics programs
- Degree: Master of Science in Applied Business Analytics Degree (MSABA)
- Tuition: $880 per credit ($35,200 to complete program)
- Graduation requirements: 40 credits
- Core courses: Four courses: Business Analytics Foundations; Operations Management: Business Process Fundamentals; Financial Concepts; Quantitative and Qualitative Decision-Making
- Specialization courses: Four courses: Enterprise Risk Analytics; Marketing Analytics; Web Analytics for Business; Data Mining for Business Analytics
- Electives: Two courses, chosen from: Cybercrime; Terrorism; Agile Software Development; IT Security Policies and Procedures; Web Analytics and Mining
- Features: Can be completed in 18 to 24 months; curriculum offers hands-on experience with analytical models and decision-support tools; AACSB accreditation
- Degree: Master of Science in Business Analytics
- Tuition: $1,380 per credit hour
- Graduation requirements: 30 credit hours
- Core courses: Introduction to Business Analytics; Quantitative Analysis; Data Warehousing and Visualization; Operations Management; Simulation and Optimization for Business Analytics; Business Econometrics; Predictive Analytics for Business Strategy; Developing Value Through Business Analytics Applications; Thinking Strategically: Game Theory and Business Strategy; Strategic Marketing Management
- Electives: None
- Features: Program can be completed in 15 months to three years; top ranked online MBA and MS programs, according to US News & World Report
- Degree: Master of Science in Analytics (OMS Analytics)
- Tuition: $275 per credit hour ($9,900 to complete program)
- Graduation requirements: 36 credit hours, 11 courses
- Core courses: Data and Visual Analytics; Data Analytics in Business
- Electives: Two electives in statistics (choices include: Machine Learning/Computational Data Analytics; Design and Analysis of Experiments; Regression Analysis; Bayesian Statistics; Data Mining and Statistical Learning); one elective in operations (choices include: Simulation; Probabilistic Models; Deterministic Optimization); two additional courses in Digital Marketing and Data Analysis for Continuous Improvement; up to three additional electives (choices include: Computational Science and Engineering Algorithms; Web Search and Text Mining; Nonparametric Data Analysis; Simulation; Deterministic Optimization); six hours of applied analytics practicum
- Features: Content is primarily video capture of live (on-campus) classes, supplemented by other videos, discussion boards, and meetings facilitated via web conferencing; three track options (Analytical Tools; Business Analytics; Computational Data Analytics); program can be completed in two-to-three years; SACSCOC accreditation
- Degree: Master's in Business Analytics
- Tuition: $1,644 per credit hour
- Graduation requirements: 30 credit hours to graduate (12 core, 12 advanced, 6 specialization)
- Core courses: Data, Models, and Decisions; Data Mining and Predictive Analytics; Database Management Systems; Decision Analytics
- Advanced courses: Social Media and Web Analytics; Big Data and Artificial Intelligence; Strategy Analytics; Data Processing and Analysis in Python
- Specialization Courses: Intro to Financial Accounting; Corporate Finance; Financial Analytics; Healthcare Operations Management and Marketing; Marketing Management; Consumer Behavior; Advanced Marketing Analytics; Health Informatics and Information Technologies
- Electives: None
- Features: Graduate in as few as 20 months; specializations in finance analytics, marketing analytics, and healthcare analytics offered; curriculum blends synchronous and asynchronous content; accredited by AACSB
- Degree: Master of Professional Studies-Data Analytics/Business Analytics Option
- Tuition: $1,025 per credit hour
- Graduation requirements: 30 credit hours (18 credits required core, 9 credits electives, 3 credits capstone experience)
- Core courses: Foundations of Predictive Analytics; Data Mining; Applied Statistics; Large-Scale Database and Warehouse; Data-Driven Decision Making; Database Design Concepts); Capstone Experience (Design and Implementation of Analytics Systems)
- Electives: Three courses, options include: Principles of Demography; Data, GIS, and Applied Demography; Large-Scale Databases for Real-Time Analytics; Analytics Programming in Python; Enterprise Analytics Strategy; Demographic Techniques; Regression Methods; Applied Time Series Analysis
- Features: Cross-disciplinary approach, featuring faculty from four colleges and four departments; focus on big data and database design processes; all content delivered asynchronously
If you go to bed at night and count data instead of sheep, earning a master's degree in business analytics might be the next step in your career journey. You will be a part of the ongoing data revolution and help utilize big data in the transformation of our personal and professional lives.
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