When you think US data hubs, you probably think of New York or California. North Carolina, though? Probably not.
And yet, you should: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Tar Heel State has the second-highest annual mean wage for those who work in data and mathematical sciences. Plus, the state is home to Fortune 500 companies like Bank of America, Duke Energy, Nucor, and Lowe’s, all needing skilled data professionals to improve business practices.
If you’re looking to build a career in analytics, you will almost certainly need a graduate degree: studies show that 91 percent of data science professionals hold at least one. Fortunately, North Carolina residents looking to earn a Master of Science in Business Analytics don’t need to go far. The state offers several excellent business analytics programs, from world-famous private institutions to state schools that offer residents discounts.
Whatever your budget or experience level in analytics, there is a good chance North Carolina has what you’re looking for, and at a lower cost than you’ll find in, say, New York or California—a not-insignificant factor for most budget-strapped graduate students.
This article on pursuing an MS business analytics in North Carolina reviews the state’s top programs and discusses:
Business analysts strive to see things that others don’t to create competitive advantages. They interpret data to improve decision-making within a company.
The Master of Science in Business Analytics is a data science degree typically offered through a university’s college of business. It equips graduates to analyze data—even if they don’t gather it themselves. Students in this program learn hard skills like:
Many business analytics programs—which are offered under such titles as Master of Science in Business Analytics, Master of Science in Analytics, or Master of Data Science with a concentration in Business Analytics—are designed for professionals with at least a few years of relevant work experience (although some will admit candidates right out of college or looking to transition careers). Most programs look for applicants with a background in math, business, or statistics (sometimes all three).
Graduates with a master’s in business analytics usually qualify for jobs in data science management. Some titles you may hold include:
There are multiple ways to answer this question, depending on your situation. Unlike social work or teaching, data science is not a field that requires licensure, which means you do not need to worry about your degree transferring across state lines. Still, it may make sense for you to earn your diploma in your home state—and not just to avoid uprooting your life. It can be useful to study where you want to work because many schools require students to complete internships, which frequently lead to jobs after graduation. North Carolina is home to many Fortune 500 companies, which makes it an attractive place to settle.
Alternatively, you may already have a career in NC that you’d like to keep, making it challenging to leave. Companies that offer employer reimbursement programs may require you to work in the office for a set number of hours per week, or for a set number of years after graduation. If you already work in NC and have one of these agreements, it may not make sense to leave the state to pursue your education.
If you do not have any other obligations, it may be worthwhile to travel for your degree. North Carolina has some excellent business analytics programs, but it’s not the only state that does. You may get into a world-renowned school like MIT (Sloan) and decide that there is a higher upside to earning your degree there than at a local university.
Whether you decide to pursue an online or in-person degree also depends on your situation. Many people who choose to earn an analytics master’s are already data science professionals, which means they may be trying to hold a job through school. It can be challenging to complete a full-time graduate program while you’re working.
Online degrees are typically more flexible than in-person degrees. Much, if not all, of the content is delivered asynchronously, meaning it is accessible 24/7. That includes lectures, which in some programs are pre-recorded. Online programs that include live sessions typically meet only once a week, or even less frequently. Online study also obviates the need to commute, park, and deal with all the other hassles of attending classes on-campus.
The benefits of attending an in-person program primarily lie in networking opportunities. You have more chances to interact with professors and other students, which can be beneficial to your career development.
Other than the setting, these degree options are similar. Most in-person and online programs both require students to submit Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores, which is the SAT but for master’s degrees, for admissions and to complete a thesis or capstone project to graduate. Make sure your program is third-party accredited—usually by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Duke is one of the top graduate schools in the country. US News and World Report ranks its computer science program—a good indicator for the school’s proclivity for data science—in the top 25. Its 19-month Master of Science in Quantitative Management: Business Analytics program is “designed for working professionals with strong quantitative backgrounds.”
This online program consists of real-time lectures and team projects in data science and a two-and-a-half-day (optional) in-person leadership intensive.
Courses you can take include:
The University of North Carolina offers an MS in Data Science and Analytics degree. Its program ranks in the top 25 on US News’ computer science list and is open to applicants of all backgrounds. You will focus on developing and applying practical skills like statistics, modeling, and optimization.
Keep in mind that this is not a strictly business analytics degree, though it covers many of the same subjects. The program also addresses more traditional data science topics, including machine learning. The school says that this program can lead to a PhD or function as a “terminal” degree.
According to UNCC, this program “is a unique blend of business acumen, data understanding, exposure to a diverse set of advanced analytics methods, and hands-on experience designed to help students apply learned knowledge on representative business problems.” The school also offers a graduate certificate program for those who prefer not to complete a full degree.
As a “professional science master’s,” this degree is designed specifically to increase graduates’ career prospects. Students must complete either an internship or practicum to finish.
UNCW offers an online degree that “gives you the skills modern organizations need to remain competitive in a rapidly changing marketplace.” Coursework focuses on building predictive and prescriptive analytics skills. It’s is open to both current professionals and those looking to change careers.
The 30-credit-hour program can be completed in a year, though some students take more.
Wake Forest’s 2019 Master of Science in Business Analytics graduating class boasts a 100 percent employment rate (after six months), and average annual compensation of $71,055. The degree program is designed for bachelor’s degree-holders looking to “build a career in analytics.” You must have completed calculus and statistics courses to gain admission.
Corporate partnerships are the hallmark of the Wake Forest degree. The program “has been developed with substantial involvement and feedback from leading organizations.” The school works with big names like Exxon Mobil, Macy’s, and Deloitte, which means students accrue real-world experience during the program.
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