The expanding parameters of information technology have created myriad opportunities for business growth. It’s not only easier to harvest the vast quantities of data being generated every day, but with the right experts in place, it’s possible to discern and extract actionable information from it all. Valuable data on customer preferences, effective marketing and promotions, shipping and receiving efficiencies, and other business processes are now discoverable—and can mean getting ahead of the competition while saving time and money.
The secret to informed decision-making in business hinges on the practice of business analytics and the ability to access the valuable data created through the analysis of daily operations. Tapping into the information all this data holds requires a knowledge and understanding of statistics, math, computer science, and economics. It also demands technical competencies in machine learning, reporting technologies, statistics, and coding languages. A business analytics master's degree teaches all those skills.
In this article, we’ll answer the question can I earn a Master of Business Analytics online and address the following:
Business analytics is the practice of utilizing data analysis from past and current business operations and performance to gain insight for future planning to drive better business decisions. Business analysts use their analytical skill set and applicable technologies to inform predictive and prescriptive measures to address causes in business operations and forecast what might happen next.
Business analysts "build analysis models and simulations to create scenarios, understand realities, and predict future states." They process and interpret the large amounts of data generated through business operations and present the findings in visually impactful and descriptive ways to communicate proposed solutions to stakeholders and decision-makers. In doing so, they use a unique combination of technical hard skills (data science, forecasting, budgeting, visual modeling) and personal soft skills (communication, negotiation, organization, critical thinking, problem-solving) to enhance profitability and efficiency in business.
Business analysts can find careers in a number of industries, including marketing analytics, healthcare, management, and supply chain management. Let's look at some of the lucrative positions and job titles that business analysts occupy.
Business analyst managers focus on identifying opportunities for business expansion and special projects. They test existing processes and use data to find solutions and better outcomes to existing problems and help plan for the future. Business analyst managers earn an average salary of $109,513.
Data scientists work across industries to collect, analyze, and report on large data sets to find solutions to business problems and inefficiencies. They typically report to division heads and decision-makers. Data scientists draw an average salary of $118,826.
Management consultants are trained in areas of business, human resources, and organizational management. They analyze data to improve business, and personnel training and identify skill sets and functions lacking in an organization. Management consultants’ average salary is $119,670.
Market research analysts work collaboratively with sales and communications teams to interpret customer and target audience feedback data using automated surveys, focus groups, and other polling tools. Market research analysts earn, on average, $86,528.
Operations research managers oversee the work of teams of research analysts interpreting data findings to make recommendations for business and operational inefficiencies. Operations research managers earn an average annual income of $182,162.
Supply chain directors oversee the negotiation of timing, pricing, and ordering materials for large-scale projects. They plan and run systems in the company as efficiently as possible by managing logistics and inventory processes. Supply chain directors’ average salary is $169,324.
If you intend to make a career in the field of data management, earning a Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) can result in a significant boost in pay. Fortune reports that "Business analysts with just a bachelor’s degree earn about $70,000 as a base salary, on average," while "business analysts in North America who have a master’s or doctorate degree earn 17 percent more than those people in the same roles who hold undergraduate degrees."
While you may not need a master's degree in business analytics to begin your career, you'll need one to move up the ladder in the industry. Many analysts with years of work experience decide to pursue this professional graduate degree to master the latest technologies in data mining, predictive analytics, and data visualization. An MSBA or related degree like a business analytics MBA prepares students for careers in big data and business administration, allowing graduates to earn a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) certification from the International Institute of Business Analysis.
Curriculum varies by program, so you'll need to do some research to find the right one to fit your career goals. Butler University's MS in Data Analytics online program is constructed with two foundational skill courses, five core courses, and four courses set aside for a concentration area. Students take one seven-week course at a time in classes on data mining, advanced analytics, predictive modeling, and data engineering and curation. The Steven's Institute of Technology offers an online MS in Business Information and Analytics (MSBI&A) with a curriculum focused on both "the business implications of Big Data and the technology that makes that data useful".
The credit hours set aside for elective coursework vary by program and can range anywhere from zero to 15 or more. Depending on the duration of the program, Boston University allows for 9 to 12 elective credits, with topics including operations and supply chain analytics, applied data science, consumer insights, and pricing strategy and tactics.
The specializations offered by a particular program may help determine which is right for you. Some programs offered through the school of business have a business and information systems emphasis, while others (perhaps offered through engineering or technology schools) will be more focused on the optimization of technology and its methodologies. Boston University offers concentrations in Data & Methods, Healthcare, and Marketing Analytics. New York Universityhas a long list of specialization options from which students may choose from for a total of nine credits. NYU designs courses in specific areas of focus (statistics, operations, IT, or marketing) to support student areas of interest (finance, retail, entertainment, real estate, cybersecurity).
Typically a business analytics program takes about two years to complete, but many offer both accelerated schedules (one year to 18 months) and part-time options (up to five years). Some programs assign a capstone individual or team project running concurrently with coursework to apply the material to real-world business challenges.
Most programs require a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, proficiency in mathematics and statistics, and a strong STEM background. Fluency in statistical analysis and programming languages critical in business analytics and proficiency in Python, Scala, Java, SQL, and SAS are typically required. You'll also need a solid understanding of data analytical tools and programs like Microsoft Excel and Tableau.
Some schools require GMAT and GRE scores for their graduate programs, but many do not. You'll need to check full admission requirements with each school and clarify application deadlines, financial aid, early application fee waivers, and other specifics for enrollment.
The answer is an unqualified ‘yes.’ Unlike degrees that require significant hands-on training, a business analytics master's is ideal for the online format. Pursuing an online or hybrid MBA or MSBA is now an industry norm, with programs designed to accommodate working professionals.
Online classes can be synchronous or asynchronous—or a combination of both—allowing online students greater flexibility for completing coursework. Earning an online MS or an online MBA in business analytics gives working professionals the ability to pursue the program of their choice while continuing to work full-time. You'll need to research program offerings like core classes, specializations, capstone projects, and electives to find the program that best fits your career goals.
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