Business Intelligence & Analytics

Big Data, Big Choices. Is a Degree in Business Analytics Right for You?

Big Data, Big Choices.  Is a Degree in Business Analytics Right for You?
If you consider yourself good with numbers and enjoy interpreting raw data to formulate decisions, you may want to earn a degree in business analytics. Image from Unsplash
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Noodle Staff February 21, 2018

Looking to pursure a Business Analytics degree? Noodle provides the information necessary to achieve your goals.

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Big data is here and growing at impressive rates. This mass collection can be a gold mine for industries. That is, if they have the right people to sort through it. Our world is being shaped by decisions made with all of this data collection that benefit industries from corporate, healthcare, and so much more. This makes a career in business analytics an appealing choice to consider. However, with all of the options out there and new paths being forged constantly, is it possible to know which road to take?

Continuing your education has never been easier or more beneficial than in today’s world, but with all the different directions, it can be difficult to know which road to take in advancing your career. If you consider yourself good with numbers and enjoy interpreting raw data to formulate decisions from that extraction, you may find earning a degree in business analytics worth it in the long run. There is more than one way to advance your career in data science and analysis, such as online certifications or boot camps so it does pose the question: Is a degree in business analytics right for you?

What is a business analytics degree?

Born out of necessity, the masters of business analytics is an interdisciplinary program that prepares students to enter the field of big data analysis in relationship to business and the increasing expanse of data. It takes the technical aspect of data analysis and pairs it with the management and business insights you would find in a traditional business education. Still a fairly new route in terms of higher education, programs are continually being tailored to ready data professionals.

A degree in analytics opens the door for graduate students who want to pursue data analysis in greater depth. If you choose to study business analytics, you will be trained to evaluate raw data that can be used to benefit a company or other large organization. From this mess of raw data, you will be able to determine useful information from the noise. You will be examining these subsequent figures to develop informed decisions to benefit all internal departments that are needed in a business. Instead of just crunching numbers, you’ll be able to take this data and develop systematic approaches that will benefit the overall health and success of the company.
Business analytics differs from regular data science in that it is used specifically for business and industry.

You may want to seek a business analytics degree instead of an MBA if you are more interested in the quantified aspects of business. Many employers are seeking new talent who not only have the ability to filter through numbers but who can also make the educated decisions in positions such as managerial or upper level roles. This use of big data is especially useful in today’s world with ever growing volumes of information coming in.


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What does studying for a business analytics degree look like?

Many programs which we will discuss further offer programs online, on-campus, or a combination of the two in a hybrid format. Most programs consist of 30 to 40 credit hours that can take about a year to complete. Many online platforms offer more time for those working full-time with an extension up to five years.

Compared to a master of business administration, the coursework for a business analytics degree is shorter. This results in entering the workforce sooner and with less debt. This can be a crucial part in the deciding process to figure out if a business analytics degree is worth it for you. That isn’t to say that a master in business administration and business analytics are direct competitors in the workforce. However, students seeking a higher education may just find themselves at the crossroad with both options available as decisions to make.

Who typically gets a business analytics degree?

Students seeking a business analytics degree can come from varying backgrounds. They may have studied physics, mathematics, engineering, computer science, statistics, economics, ect. The common factor is their strong quantitative backgrounds. A good deal of programming experience is needed too. Even if you have a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, if you have an analytical background, you can choose to further your technical development with a business analytics degree.

Regardless of what field you have studied or what kind of degree you’ve obtained, there are several skills you’ll need to be developing to successfully use your business analytics degree. You’ll need to be able to effectively communicate. Being able to unveil the messages in big data is of no use if you cannot report this back to others in ways they can understand. You also need to have critical thinking skills. With critical thinking, you can take the mess of data and filter through to find the useful information that can be of great benefit. Attention to detail is also needed as you’ll be learning important quantitative techniques that will continue on throughout your coursework, and ultimately your career.

As a technical professional, you may gain the business training needed for management positions by getting your business analytics degree. If you already have the business management skills as a non-technical professional, this program can give you the insight and tools needed to problem solve analytically. Whether you are directly out of school looking for your next step or feel currently stunted in the workforce, going back for a masters in business analytics can give you the well rounded background and educated needed to advance in today’s world.

Having strong skills in both the management side of business as well as technical capability gives you the key to open many doors. You are able to gain the “big picture” of the industry and make decisions with strong discernment. You are also able to act as the liaison between management and the information technologist, tech developers, and system architects. Getting a masters in business analytics can put you into a position of great influence, making you a highly sought after employee.

Which programs are offering a business analytics degree?

With the growing need for big data professionals who are able to respond and appropriately use the ever growing data streams, many colleges and universities have developed programs to train such individuals. After completion, you will be awarded your Masters of Business Analytics degree (MSBA). Here is a condensed list of online MSBA programs and a little bit about each one including their location, coursework format, and length of program.

For a comprehensive list of online MSBSA programs, make sure to check out our 2018 guide to online Masters in Business Analytics Programs.

Wake Forest University School of Business__

This online program consists of 36 credits completed over 24 months. At the end of the first term, there is a two-day immersion on campus in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Texas A & M University – College Station

With biweekly live video sessions in the evening, this 36 credit hour master of science in analytics degree takes place over five semesters part time.

University of California – Berkeley

This 27-unit can be completed by attending full time, through an accelerated course, or parttime.

Indiana University – South Bend’s Kelley School of Business__

With the flexibility to finish this 30 credit-hour degree in 15 months to five years, you can obtain the degree you need at a pace that fits comfortably with your lifestyle.

Saint Johns University

Online master of science in business intelligence & analytics
This 30 hour course is completed in two years solely online with no travel to campus.

Northeastern University

This part-time online degree is finished in 18 months.

Quinnipiac University

Their program consists of 33 credit hours and is completed in six semesters, or roughly two years.

Syracuse University

With the completion of 36 credit hours, you can receive your master’s from this establishment in as little as two years online.

Jacksonville University

Totalling in at 35 credit hours, you can complete this master’s in 22 months taking one class at a time or double up to finish faster in as early as 11 months.

Merrimack College

You can complete the needed 32 credit hours for this program in 15 months with this online college.

Villanova University School of Business__

This online program of 36 credit hours can be completed in as little as 20 months.

Notre Dame of Maryland University

This part time program is offered one class at a time which would have you finish this 36 credit hour program in roughly about two years with a little leeway to finish earlier.

La Salle University

This master’s module takes courses 8 weeks in length that you can take at a rate of two courses per semester for a total of 30 credit hours. This should allow you to finish the program in less than two years by attending the spring, summer, and fall semesters.

Southern New Hampshire University

You can complete the needed 36 to 42 credit hours in as little as 15 months with this online master’s.

__Business at American University

Although taking place mostly online, the two capstone meetings in Washington DC take place to give a richer, hands-on experience with companies similar to those they will be working with upon completion. 33 credits can be completely full time or part time over 12 month or 15 months respectively.

University of Maryland – University College

With both completely online and a hybrid option where classes are taken at the campus in Largo, MD, this 36 credit program can be completed in up to five consecutive years.

Iowa State University

Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business Master of Business Analytics. This program meets three times over the 21 month program for 9/30 credit hours at their campus in Ames, IA.

Carnegie Mellon University School of Business__

With four on-campus visits to Pittsburg, PA, this 108 unit online program can be finished in 18 months.

Wittenberg University

This year long program has you attending on campus in Springfield, Ohio three times a month with some classes offered online.

Oklahoma State University – Main Campus

On campus, you will complete 37 credit hours full time over four semesters in Stillwater, OK. An online program is offered for working professionals that includes 33 credit hours.

Boston University

Online Master of Science in Applied Business Analytics Degree. Although they offer blended and on-campus programs, this online program has 40 credit hours that an be completed within 18-24 months.

Arizona State University – Tempe

W. P. Carey Master of Science in Business Analytics. Classes on-campus in Tempe, AZ meet on weekdays for 9 months beginning in August. An online program is available for working professionals beginning in January and spanning for 16 months.

Georgia Institute of Technology – Main Campus

On-campus in Atlanta, GA, this 36 credit hour master’s can be acquired in one year while the 30 credit hour online course can be completed between one and two years.

Picking a program for you is no easy feat, but things to consider include what technical skills you will be prepared with such as business analytics, data visualization, and statistical analysis. You should also ask what business skills they plan overviewing as these will be needed in the workforce.

  • What student support services does the program in question offer?
  • What are the career and job placement success rates?
  • What companies are interested in their graduates?
  • What class formats are offered and will they work with your schedule?
  • What costs can you expect in tuition and fees?
  • What admission requirements are there including GPA and GRE scores?
  • What kind of flexibility is offered with the program?
  • What professional background does the faculty you’ll be learning from possess?
  • What kind of alumni network can you expect upon completion?
  • What ranking or reputation does the business school in question have?
  • Also, what is their accreditation?

These are all things to keep in mind while exploring the options for your master’s in business analysis.

What can I do with a business analytics degree?

Below you’ll find various job titles that people with a business analytics may go into. All are similar and deal with the same kind of work: data. We will be looking at the differences between each title, what they do overall, how many jobs are listed on at the time of this writing, and where these jobs are commonly located although they are mostly listed in highly populated areas and these cities tend to be the same.

Management Analyst/Consultant

With faster than average growth, management analysts, also known as management consultants, strive for new ways for higher efficiency. They are advantageous to the company by finding ways to save both time and money for highest profits. At the time of this article, just shy of 100,000 job postings can be found on These are largely with major companies which can locate you to larger cities with New York, NY topping the lists followed shortly by Chicago, IL and Washington DC. The average salary is just over $75k.

Data Analyst

Heavier on the technical side of things, data analysts take in raw data, clean it up, and transform it to numbers that can be used to extrapolate decisions. Data analysts can be found in all realms of industry, but with a business analytics degree, you’d be projecting insights from the data to benefit the company you work for. Job openings now amount to just over 80,000 on indeed and can be found in the three major cities listed before as well as San Francisco, CA and Atlanta, GA. Although salaries depend largely on which companies you work for and what experience you have, the national average lies just above $65k.

Data Scientist

This may be more comfortable to take on as a technical professional who is skillful with software engineering and data wrangling. Compared to data analysts, scientists can expect to program more, develop bigger business models, and are likely to receive a bigger paycheck in relationship to the increased responsibility. The average yearly salary for a data scientist at this time is $120k. Demand at this time is a bit lower with ringing in about 25k job openings across the United States. Companies in need can be found in New York, NY, San Francisco, CA, Seattle, WA, Cambridge and Boston, MA.

Business Intelligence Analyst

Either as a consultant or directly with a company, business intelligence analysts use data to formulate market insights and what the next move and sequence of plays should be for the company’s both short term and long term success. The difference between business intelligence analysts and data scientist or analysts is what data is evaluated. Data analysts use data to make predictions for the future while business intelligence analysts evaluate the data to conclude past trends. They don’t play with probabilities as much and instead seek the concrete evidence to be used as business decision launching pads. Both are crucial to the health of a company. If you are a person who traditionally plays it safe, a career as a business intelligence analyst may be right for you. The job postings for this on are much lower in comparison, coming in around 8k with jobs located in the same areas. The average national salary is $79k/year.

Program and Marketing Managers

This one is a little less tech intensive, but strong research and analytic abilities are still needed. A marketing manager uses SEO techniques to help clients receive larger influxes of web traffic. They also develop advertisement strategies throughout social media and other outlets such as radio, email, and print media. How do you use a business analytics degree as a program or marketing manager? Being able to interpret available data for the company makes choosing which strategie to use effectively with the current business climate. You’ll be better able to determine which avenue to pursue stronger and which to build up for better response. Program managers and marketing managers are in high demand with 370k and 200k openings respectively. The biggest employing locations remain the same as the previous listed positions with also great demand in Houston. The salary for a program or marketing manager also lies around $79k.

Big Data Analytics Specialist

This title is less commonly used tapping in with only 1,436 job postings. They largely perform the same duties as the previously mentioned jobs and that is recognizing trends and opportunities from the data received. This data can be internal from the company’s various influx points or external data such as weather and political climates that may play significantly. These jobs can be found in the high populated locations mentioned before as well as Austin, TX, Los Angeles, CA, and Columbus, OH. Average base pay for this degree is just shy of $50k.

Operations Research Analyst

Another position with a faster than average job outlook, operations research analysts help companies make better decisions based on researching and identifying issues that affect the company’s overall performance. Not only are strong math skills a must have, but you will also need soft skills to work as a team in tackling these complex problems and writing reports to communicate effectively. There are currently 14k jobs postings available and those can be found in the high populated metroplexes as well as Arlington, VA and Fort Meade, MD. Average salary stands around $80k.

Market Research Analyst

A market research analyst helps companies by forecasting what products customers are likely to buy, when they are to buy them, and how they should market the products to effectively maximize these markets. The data comes from surveys, focus groups, and consumer buying patterns to create these marketing plans. Market research analysts can work with a consulting firm or with a company directly. Job postings are just shy of reaching 10k and can be found in Dallas, TX and Pittsburgh, PA in addition to the large cities already mentioned. You can expect an annual salary of about $60k on average.

How much will I earn with a business analytics degree?

We have already mentioned the mean salaries you can expect with common positions graduates obtain with a business analytics degree. Overall, you can expect starting salaries anywhere from $50,000 onwards up to $120,000 at the time of this article. Many of the listed positions can be obtained without the help of a higher education qualification, but that extra degree can really help you move up in the field whether it be on the technical side or the managerial side of things.

So is getting a master’s in business analytics worth it?

That can depend on you and your goals. If you are seeking a meaningful education that can dive you deeper into the world of big data and an expansive, evolving career in data science, this can be a great avenue to take. With the different programs available both on beautiful campuses or online that can be done at varying paces, you are sure to find the right program for you in your current chapter in life. The decision is ultimately and uniquely yours, but this guide can better equip you with the knowledge to make the right choice.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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