Data Science

What Do You Learn With a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics?

What Do You Learn With a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics?
You can be part of this revolution… if you have the skills, training, and credentials. A Master of Science in Data Analytics program offers all three. Image from Unsplash
Eddie Huffman profile
Eddie Huffman January 25, 2023

The expertise in data analytics you develop through a master's program can help you advance in such diverse fields as machine learning, data visualization, financial analytics, and bioinformatics.

Article continues here

Forbes calls data “the oil of the fourth industrial revolution.” That’s an apt comparison: it’s the power source without which the rest of the revolution is possible.

Data science and analytics have shaken up the worlds of finance, medicine, business, and government, culling useful information from the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every day by 4.66 billion internet users. Data analysts help organizations identify problems and make important decisions about which investments to make, which products to develop, which markets to explore, and which customers to target.

“Gone are the days when traditional financial reporting, such as the profit-and-loss statement, balance sheet, cash flow, and simple variance analysis are enough,” says EY (formerly Ernst & Young), one of the world’s Big Four accounting firms. “Business leaders are now looking for in-depth insights that allow them to connect business activity to long-term value, model scenarios in real-time, and efficiently allocate resources.”

In medicine, data science and artificial intelligence allow medical personnel to focus more on personalized patient care and improved efficiency and profitability. “AI frees up doctors and other healthcare professionals to focus on the patient, where momentarily they are spending 75 percent of their time analyzing data and doing paperwork,” says Patrick Bangert, VP of AI at Samsung SDSA, which specializes in enterprise software solutions. “Patients have to wait four to six weeks, unaware of the results of a biopsy. If those are available instantly the treatment can begin sooner, leading to better outcomes.”

In business, Mastercard teamed up with Google to track retail sales based on transactions. “This shows that Google’s collaboration with financial services players is raising the bar for a new, innovative way of working,” according to the Accenture Banking Blog. “An understanding of the right data sources can drive new product design decisions.”

The U.S. government made a $10 million investment in data storage in 2021 “to consolidate their data analytics infrastructure into a single, flash-based storage system that will support the needs of grand-challenge data science,” according to VAST Data, the creator of the storage platform. The upgraded system should “unlock the secrets hidden within vast reserves of biological, population and health data.”

You can be part of this revolution… if you have the skills, training, and credentials. A Master of Science in Data Analytics program offers all three. What will you learn in a data analytics master’s program? This article answers that question. It also covers the following topics:

  • Why get a master’s degree in data analytics?
  • What will you learn in a data analytics master’s program?
  • Can you get a master’s degree in data analytics online?
  • Master of Science in Data Analytics admissions requirements

Why get a master’s degree in data analytics?

A decade ago, Harvard Business Review called data scientist “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” Ten years on, that assessment still holds, as data science and analytics continue to break new ground and open new career opportunities.

Who hires people with data analytics degrees? A study by Burning Glass, IBM, and the Business Higher Education Forum found the most job openings in:

  • Finance and insurance
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services
  • Information
  • Management of companies and enterprises
  • Manufacturing

Regardless of the field, most data analytics jobs share a few common requirements, according to Talend, a company that provides cloud data integration and integrity solutions for organizations. They include:

  • The ability to tell a story with numbers
  • Some coding experience, particularly with SQL
  • Communication skills and curiosity
  • The ability to effectively sort and clean data

Carl Howe is director of education at RStudio, which provides open-source and enterprise tools for use with the R programming language, a key analytics tool. He spoke to Talend about the importance of getting into the weeds when it comes to data: “One irony of both data science and analytics is that while you need to know a great deal about models and machine learning, you could spend a great deal of your time cleaning real-world data before you analyze it. It’s the old story of ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ You need clean data to work with before you can model it.”

Job prospects in data analytics include:

Not only can a master’s degree in data analytics open career doors, it can also enhance valuable skills that extend beyond your profession. These include problem solving, communication, and leadership, according to SAS, a developer of analytics tools. If you’re intellectually curious, know something about programming, and have strong math skills and an analytical mind, this could be your field.


“I’m Interested in Data Science!”

Data science professionals can use their knowledge and skills in many ways and in almost every industry. You might specialize in business intelligence or robotics or healthcare informatics. There are almost too many options.

90 percent of data scientists hold master’s degrees, and 47 percent hold doctoral degrees. (source)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics sets median data scientist annual pay at just over $100,000. Top-paying sectors include (source):

- Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing ($148,290)
- Semiconductor and other electronic equipment manufacturing ($142,150)
- Specialized information services ($139,600)
- Data processing, hosting, and related services ($126,160)
- Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, payroll services ($124,440)

University and Program Name Learn More

What will you learn in a data analytics master’s program?

We’ve already looked at some of the big-picture lessons you’ll learn while earning a master’s in data analytics, such as problem solving, communication, and telling a story with numbers. Master’s programs offer a mix of hard and soft skills.

At Butler University, for example, students learn “technical skills, like predictive analytics and effective visualization techniques, and enhance their soft skills, like critical reasoning and ethical decision-making, through an interdisciplinary curriculum.”

Let’s take a deeper dive into the broad spectrum of coursework you can expect.

Core curriculum

First, the tech side. In addition to fundamental data analysis classes, expect to take such classes as:

  • Conceptual Foundations of Information and Data
  • Python Programming and Data Management
  • Introduction to Data Mining
  • Advanced Analytics, Predictive Modeling, and Decision Making
  • Programming and Data Structures
  • Applied Machine Learning
  • Database Design and SQL
  • Harvesting, Storing, and Retrieving Data
  • Decision Management Systems
  • Data Management and Data Visualization
  • Predictive Modeling
  • Big Data Analytics

Electives and specializations

If you specialize in business analytics, classes may include:

  • Introduction To Business Analytics
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Supply Chain Analytics
  • Data and Visual Analytics
  • Management Consulting

Some schools offer a health data analytics concentration with courses like:

  • Utilization of Health Data
  • Healthcare Data Literacy and Analytics
  • Information Systems for Healthcare Management
  • Health Services Administration

Other concentrations include statistics, management, artificial intelligence, data engineering, digital retailing, and computational data analytics.

Then there are electives that help deepen your data analytics skills. Sample courses include:

  • Applied Probability Modeling for Data Analytics
  • Bayesian Deep Learning
  • Deep Learning with Big Data
  • Deep Neural Networks
  • Intelligent Systems and Robotics
  • Probability
  • Time Series Analysis and Forecasting

Many schools require completion of a hands-on capstone project, such as working with a team to solve a business problem or creating a technical work proposal.

Master of Science in Data Analytics admissions requirements

Requirements vary from school to school, but the following are common:

  • A minimum GPA from your bachelors’ degree
  • Completion of classes in (or knowledge of) calculus, probability/statistics, basic linear algebra, and a high-level programming language such as Python, a key analytics tool
  • GRE or GMAT scores
  • Resume
  • An essay or interview
  • Two or more letters of recommendation from sources like a recent supervisor or professional colleagues.

Can you get a master’s degree in data analytics online?

Online master’s degree programs abound, offering part-time and full-time options and typically taking two to three years to complete. Here are a few of the many universities where you can obtain a data analytics master’s degree from the comfort of your own hometown:

Questions or feedback? Email

About the Author

Eddie Huffman is the author of John Prine: In Spite of Himself and a forthcoming biography of Doc Watson. He has written for Rolling Stone, the New York Times, Utne Reader, All Music Guide, Goldmine, the Virgin Islands Source, and many other publications.

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. He has been managing editor of the website for over four years.

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