Business Administration

Is an MBA in Business Analytics Worth It?

Is an MBA in Business Analytics Worth It?
What advice would a well-intentioned neighbor offer a young graduate today? “Just one word: data.” Image from Unsplash
Tom Meltzer profile
Tom Meltzer April 12, 2023

Modern businesses seek objective, quantifiable information to drive business decisions. Business analysis represents a primary source of that information.

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In the classic 1967 movie The Graduate, an older neighbor offers young protagonist Benjamin Braddock some brief but fervent advice on his upcoming career. “Just one word: plastics,” the neighbor counsels, adding earnestly, “There’s a great future in plastics.”

What advice would a well-intentioned neighbor offer a young graduate today? “Just one word: data.” Like plastics in the 1960s, data analysis is a rapidly growing field that promises almost limitless integration into nearly every business function. But where plastics was a punchline in The Graduate, a signifier of a square elder’s vision of progress and modernity, data analytics truly is cutting edge. It appears poised to remain so into the indefinite future.

The reason is simple: modern businesses seek objective, quantifiable information to drive business decisions, and data analysis is a rich primary source of that information. Advances in computing have accelerated the capabilities of, and the rush toward, business analytics; the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 11 percent growth in the management analytics job market between now and 2031. That should result in over 100,000 job openings in management analytics every year.

As a business analyst with an MBA, you will mine and analyze business data to predict future trends, identify inefficiencies, and anticipate and solve business challenges in any area where data are available and useful. That includes strategy, operations, marketing, finance, technology, human resources… in fact, it’s hard to think of a function within modern business that doesn’t generate data that, in the right hands, can yield invaluable insights.

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Who gets an MBA in business analytics?

MBAs drawn to business analytics are frequently those who majored in STEM disciplines as undergraduates. Computer science, engineering, mathematics, natural sciences, and statistics feature prominently in class profiles, but business, accounting, and economics majors are also well represented. There are even some liberal arts majors among their ranks.

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“Should I Get A MBA?”

The National Association of Colleges and Employers predicted an average starting salary for 2019 MBA graduates of $84,580—provided those graduates found jobs in computer science, engineering, science, or business. (source)

Students considering an MBA or graduate business degree can choose from varied career paths, including those focused on financial management, data analytics, market research, healthcare management, and operations management. The analytical skills and problem-solving techniques gained from graduate level business degrees are in high demand across business sectors. (source)

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What can you do with an MBA in business analytics?

The field of business analytics covers a prodigious range of functions: any aspect of business that can be quantified and evaluated can benefit from an analyst’s expertise. Almost every area of business meets this qualification, and the opportunities are continually increasing as businesses become more sophisticated about data collection and data usage.

Business analysts:

  • Aggregate and analyze market research
  • Study operations data to improve efficiencies
  • Run analyses on budget and finance data to find savings
  • Estimate future costs across business functions
  • Evaluate data to optimize management practices
  • Contribute insight and analysis to any area in which mathematical models, statistical formulas, and data aggregation are used

They are not isolated to any single sector of the business world: from manufacturing to services to finance to education to government to health care to pharmaceuticals to just about any other business you can think of, business analysts have a significant role to play.

How much can you earn with an MBA in business analytics?

According to Salary.com, a business analytics manager with either an MBA or related master’s degree earns, on average, between $129,000 and $137,500 in salary. Those holding only a bachelor’s earn, on average, about $3,000 per year less.

This calculation, however, almost certainly undersells the value of the degree, which will put you in position for better and higher-paying promotions, bonuses and other perquisites that will not be available to those with terminal bachelor’s degrees. The pay difference may not look huge; however, the advantage a graduate degree confers during the hiring process is.

So, is an MBA in business analytics worth it?

If you have an interest in analytics and the desire and capacity to put in the hard work, this isn’t a difficult call. Business analytics is a growing and lucrative field that offers great opportunities for those with the required skills.

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One question remains:

Which business analytics degree should you pursue? Not all schools offer an MBA in business analytics; some offer an MS in Business Analytics instead, and some offer both. Others offer certificate programs.

According to IBM, more than 40 percent of future data science jobs will require a master’s degree or higher. If you aspire to one of those jobs, a certificate program probably isn’t for you. As for the MBA vs the master’s degree, the MBA will likely provide a more general business education with a more theoretical approach to data analytics, while the master’s will be more narrowly focused on business analytics, with a stronger emphasis on practical applications (don’t worry, though, you’ll still get plenty of theory). Choose accordingly, keeping in mind other crucial factors such as cost, location, and alumni network.

Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com

About the Author

Tom Meltzer began his career in education publishing at The Princeton Review, where he authored more than a dozen titles (including the company's annual best colleges guide and two AP test prep manuals) and produced the musical podcast The Princeton Review Vocab Minute. A graduate of Columbia University (English major), Tom lives in Chapel Hill, NC.

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.

To learn more about our editorial standards, you can click here.


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